Cats lose to Mississippi State in second regular season loss


Senior guard Maci Morris shoots from beyond the arc during the game against Middle Tennessee on Saturday, Dec. 15, 2018, at Memorial Coliseum in Lexington, Kentucky. Kentucky defeated the Blue Raiders 72-55. Photo by Jordan Prather | Staff

Jake Maynard

UK women’s basketball suffered a 71-86 loss against head coach Matthew Mitchell’s alma mater, the Mississippi State Bulldogs. The loss moves the Wildcats to 14-2 in the regular season and 1-1 in conference play. Both of Kentucky’s losses are against top 10 teams. Mississippi State is currently ranked number seven in the AP poll and the Wildcats’ other loss was against the fifth-ranked Louisville Cardinals.

Mississippi State took advantage of their size advantage in this matchup. The Bulldogs have a 6-6-foot-7 player, Teaira McCowan, and two 6-foot-5 players, Jessika Carter and Promise Taylor. The Bulldogs feasted in the paint, out-rebounding the Wildcats with a staggering 48-24 margin and scoring 25 second chance points to UK’s 12. In total, the Bulldogs scored down low for 48 of their 86 points.

Senior guard Maci Morris was a bright spot in the Wildcats’ disappointing night. Morris scored 20 points, 17 of which came in the second half on an impressive 6-8 shooting output. This is her 17th time scoring 20 or more points in her career and her fourth time this season. Her 20-point output has moved her ahead of Jennifer O’Neal for 13th place on the Wildcats all-time scoring list. Morris needs just 20 more points to move into the top 10 all-time scorers.

Morris’ offense wasn’t the only thing on show tonight. She tallied a career-high-tying three blocks on the taller Bulldogs and a pair of steals.

Kentucky’s freshman star Rhyne Howard had a big night in every corner of the stats sheet, but her defense is what stuck out. Howard had six steals against the Bulldogs, generating stops. She has recorded six or more steals three times this season. The freshman forward also swatted away two shots.

Howard also led the Wildcats in rebounding with five boards, two of which came on the offensive end. She also tied the team high in assists (four) and scored 15 points, second only to Morris’ 20.

Kentucky forced 24 Mississippi State turnovers and scored 28 points off the Bulldogs’ miscues. The 24 turnovers were a season high for the Bulldogs. MSU’s second-highest turnover game was against Lamar, when they turned the ball over 20 times. Fifteen of the Bulldogs’ turnovers came off Wildcat steals.

Kentucky won’t suit up again until Thursday, Jan. 10. The Wildcats will be traveling to Knoxville to play the No. 10 Tennessee Lady Volunteers. The game will tip-off at 7:00 p.m. and will be available to watch on the SEC Network.