Mitchell earns 300th career win with victory over Vanderbilt


Freshman guard Blair Green high-fives Senior guard Taylor Murray during a timeout in the game against Vanderbilt on Thursday, Jan. 3, 2019, at Memorial Colliseum in Lexington, Kentucky. Kentucky won with a final score of 77-55. Photo by Jordan Prather | Staff

Jake Maynard

Coach Matthew Mitchell won his 300th career game Thursday night, 270 of these wins come from his 12 years with Big Blue Nation. The Wildcats earned Coach Mitchell’s milestone win in the 77-55 SEC home opener win against Vanderbilt

Coach Mitchell wasn’t the only Wildcat to etch his name in Kentucky basketball history Thursday night. Senior guard Maci Morris passed Tiffany Wait for 14th on UK’s all-time scoring list after a fitting 14-point night. Morris now has 1,448 career points and needs one more point to tie Jennifer O’Neill for 13th in program history.

Morris scored eight points early in the first period, giving the Wildcats an early 14-6 lead. Morris credits her teammates to her hot start in the game.

“Our team just does a really good job of sharing the ball, so I was getting open looks... They were going in and I was just feeling it at first and kept shooting,” Morris said. 

The Commodores shot 100% from the field in the first quarter, cutting the UK lead to one late in the first. The Cats answered quickly with a six-point run in the final 1:43. The late first quarter run would carry over into the second for the Wildcats, when they pushed the lead by nine additional points.

The third period saw perhaps one of the most efficient quarters of freshman Blair Green’s young career. Green scored nine points in the quarter, at one point pushing the Wildcats’ lead to 30 points.  

Green wasn’t the only freshman to have a big night. UK’s freshman star Rhyne Howard had a career high seven assists tonight– she combined these assists with 16 points, four rebounds, a steal and a block.

“It’s definitely made our team better to add another scoring, but I think you make a good point you know her passing is something that when you do try to devote some resources to her like double teaming, she is just so big and strong and has great passing ability and great vision,” Mitchell said. 

Kentucky went into every quarter with an energy and hustle that lead to a 14-6 run to open the first quarter, a 16-7 run in the second and a 16-5 run in the first half of the third quarter. Rotations were more merciful for the Commodores in the final quarter, allowing them to outplay the Wildcats to end the game.  

Kentucky’s defense forced 29 Vanderbilt turnovers, ten of which came from steals. Coach Mitchell credited his players for the team’s defensive effort.

“You have to go out there and do it (force turnovers). It doesn’t just happen on its own… Sometimes what looks like an unforced turnover is really just because of the pace you’ve created and the uncertainty of what the next pass is so I think we did a really good job of that.”

The Cats return to the court on Sunday at Mississippi State at 5 p.m. The game can be seen on the SEC Network.