Kentucky offense continues to shine early


Junior guard Jaida Roper runs onto the court during the game against Virginia on Thursday, Nov. 15, 2018, at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky. Kentucky won 63 to 51. Photo by Jordan Prather | Staff

Mohammad Ahmad

The Kentucky women’s basketball team has several factors going for them that makes the Wildcats the number 18 team in the country, but one of those standout factors is offense. 

UK’s scoring offense, which was ranked third in the SEC entering Friday’s contest, now averages 81 points per game. That can be explained due in part to the slew of players that have been putting up double-digit scores.

Friday’s double-digit scorers of Maci Morris, Taylor Murray, Rhyne Howard and Jaida Roper marked the sixth time this season that the Cats have had four or more in a game. 

“We have such a versatile group that brings different packages into the game. It’s really hard to guard us because if one person is off, the other is on, and everybody can shoot on our team,” Morris said after the win. 

The four double-digit scorers combined for 65 points. Howard, a freshman, led all UK scorers with 25 points – her second-most in a game this year. She now has a team-leading 18.5 points per game and has double-digit scores in all but one game this season. Her 17-point third quarter helped put the game away. 

“Whatever he [Coach Mitchell] sees, he calls the plays. If I feel like I have a mismatch, and I’ll say ‘Hey, let’s run this,’ and that gets me a look,” Howard said. 

The offense’s senior core is built by the Morris-Murray tandem. Morris and Murray scored 13 and 12 points Friday, respectively. Morris is the second-leading scorer and Murray is the third-leading. Morris has hit at least one three-pointer in 26 straight games as she hit three on Friday and Murray, who had six assists against the Racers, has a team-leading 59 assists this year. 

“Her hustle was able to make up for some plays that weren’t very positive. She would come right back and make a play with her tenacity, quickness and speed,” UK head coach Matthew Mitchell said. 

Roper continued to make plays coming off of the bench. In 28 minutes, she put up a season-high 15 points—the junior put up double-digit scores in back-to-back games and didn’t turn the ball over once Friday. 

“My teammates help my confidence every game. They tell me to take shots. I’m just trying to put in the extra work that builds my confidence,” Roper said. 

The Cats shot 50.7 percent from the field against Murray State and have hit 50 percent or better in three straight games, and their 10 three-pointers mark the fourth time the Cats have hit 10 or more three-pointers in a game this year. 

The Cats head home for the holidays with a win and will return to the court next Friday at home at 11:30 a.m. against Sacred Heart.