Kentucky women’s basketball takes down Gators


Senior guard Taylor Murray dribbles the ball up the court. University of Kentucky women’s basketball team lost to South Carolina 74-70 at Memorial Coliseum on Thursday, Jan. 31, 2018, in Lexington, Kentucky. Photo by Michael Clubb| Staff

Jake Maynard

An 11-point win over the Florida Gators has become a tradition for the Kentucky Wildcats this year. On Sept. 8, Kentucky’s football team beat the Gators by 11, on Saturday the men’s basketball team won by 11 and on Super Bowl Sunday the women’s basketball team beat Florida by 11 in Rupp Arena.

Florida started the game well, taking a 9-0 lead in the first two and a half minutes. Kentucky missed its first five shots and called a timeout to stop the Florida onslaught. Jaida Roper scored the next basket on an and-one jump shot. Kentucky allowed a 5-2 run after this but ended the quarter with a 7-0 run to tie the game at 15 after the first quarter. The Wildcat’s bench stepped up in this quarter, scoring eight points. Five of these points came from freshman Blair Green.

Coach Matthew Mitchell praised Green’s work ethic, saying that even though she’s been frustrated at times, “she just keeps coming back and working hard. I’m very happy for her to not only play well, but she’s also got to be feeling some confidence from the performance today. I’m proud of her.”

After Thursday night’s loss to South Carolina, the Kentucky coaching staff stressed energy to their team.

Mitchell was happy with the team’s reception of this and said, “We practiced as hard Friday afternoon as we did on day number one.”

Kentucky took control in the second quarter by playing with this energy in both its offensive rebounding and defense. The Cats out-rebounded the Gators nine to four in the quarter, and seven of the Wildcats’ nine boards were offensive. Kentucky only allowed eight Florida points in the quarter to end the half with a 30-23 lead.  

The third quarter started with a Maci Morris three for the Wildcats, Morris’ first points of the game. Even though Morris began the game with three misses, the team still wanted her to shoot the ball.

“If she’s open, she’s got to shoot it,” Mitchell said. “We have ultimate confidence in her.”

Florida would then score the next six points on back-to-back three-pointers. After a good first half, the bench had gone cold and Kentucky’s starters had to step up. Taylor Murray said that this was her job, to keep the team “poised and relaxed.”  

Murray did this by scoring six straight points for the Wildcats when nothing was falling. All six came from the free-throw line. Florida went on a small run to cut the game to just two points with less than a minute left in the quarter. Kentucky ended the quarter with a quick three-point run on a Tatyana Wyatt jumper and Murray free-throw.  

After Florida cut the Wildcats’ lead to five in the third, Kentucky came out of the break with a seven-to-three run. Florida made a few shots to stay in the game but was silenced by an eight-point Kentucky run led by Morris’ four straight points.  

Kentucky’s next game will be at Auburn and will start the Cats’ two game away stretch. The game will be on Thursday, Feb. 7. Tip-off will be at 7:00 p.m. and the game will be available to watch on SECN+.