UK women’s basketball overcomes early Mizzou lead to win 52-41


Junior Jaida Roper defends during the game against Mizzou on Thursday, January 24, 2019 in Lexington, Ky. Photo by Chase Phillips | Staff

Jake Maynard

The Kentucky Wildcats overcame an early no. 25 ranked Missouri lead to win the game 52- 41 in Memorial Coliseum Thursday night. The victory was a special one for the Wildcats, as the game was played in honor of former Kentucky Coach, Pat Summitt. Both teams wore shirts that said “We Back Pat” on them and the Kentucky assistant coaches wore custom shoes with Summitt’s name and picture on them.

Coach Matthew Mitchell was proud of everyone involved with honoring Summitt.

“It’s an important time for us to honor coach,” Mitchell said. “And I’m so proud of the Southeastern Conference, the entire conference is behind the initiative… Coach would have been proud of the way we won tonight, with tenacious defense and with rebounding… All of us here are appreciative of the contribution she made on our lives.”

For the first time in two weeks Kentucky has all their starters back in the lineup. Maci Morris and Rhyne Howard were on the court tonight, but were more quiet than the duo usually is– the two players are averaging 16 points, but they combined for just eight tonight.

“I think it’s gonna take some time to knock the rust off. I think tonight was a good step towards that,” Mitchell said of Morris and Howard.

Coach Mitchell made a point of emphasis about Missouri’s defense being a challenge for Howard.

The strength of her game is shooting 3s and the mid-range jumper,” Mitchell said, and pointed out that the Tigers are especially good at guarding that.

With Morris and Howard not their usual selves, Kentucky senior Taylor Murray stepped up big for her team.

Kentucky was down for the entire first half– until Murray got hot.

Murray single-handedly stole the lead in barely over a minute of 3rd quarter action, and in the first minute of play, Murray had four points, a steal and a rebound.  

Her dominance continued throughout the quarter as she scored 13 of the Wildcats’ 18 points that quarter. Murray shot 5-of-7 while the rest of the team shot just 2-8. She also recorded four steals.  

“Her ability to force some turnovers up high on the floor where they couldn’t transition back, and we were able to get some layups off of our defense I thought really sparked our team,” Mitchell said.

Murray remained  humble, but said she knew she needed to step up for her team.

“I was one-for-two in the first and second quarters, so I needed to give my team some spark and I was able to do that for us.”

Even Missouri’s Coach, Robin Pingeton, had nothing but compliments for the game’s high-scorer.

“Obviously Taylor is really really talented… Everyone in the league has a ton of respect for Taylor and we all understand what a great player she is,” Pingeton said.

Murray ended the game with 21 points, four rebounds, two assists, and four steals.  

Kentucky’s next game will be on Sunday, when the Wildcats travel to Texas A&M. Tipoff is scheduled for 5:00 and the game can be watched on the SEC Network.