UK can’t knock off undefeated Mississippi State, drops third straight


Junior guard Maci Morris gets ready to pass the ball during the game against California on Thursday, December 21, 2017 in Lexington, Kentucky. Kentucky was defeated 62-52. Photo by Olivia Beach | Staff

Roman West

The Kentucky women’s basketball team (12-14, 4-8) dropped its third straight SEC game on Sunday as the Cats were not able to upset the undefeated No. 2 Mississippi State Bulldogs (26-0, 12-0).

The 74-55 win by the Bulldogs was their first win over the Cats in the past 12 games. The Cats were led by their star guard, Maci Morris, who finished the game with 21 points, four rebounds and two assists.

Taylor Murray wasn’t her usual self today, finishing with seven points on 2-9 shooting with five turnovers and capping off her day by fouling out.

Mississippi State was led by a three-headed monster of Victoria Vivians, Teaira McCowan and Roshunda Johnson, who combined for 61 points and 23 rebounds.

Kentucky couldn’t get anything going early in the game. In the first quarter, the Cats had seven turnovers on their first 13 possessions, which led to only eight first quarter points. After scoring their first points of the game at the 8:33 mark, they were unable put any more points on the board until 6:45 left in the quarter when Morris hit a jump shot.

That would be the last field goal for the Cats in the first quarter.

UK made their next field goal at the 6:55 mark of the second quarter when Dorie Harrison made a layup to get her first points of the game.

By halftime, the Cats had committed 13 turnovers and 14 fouls, which turned into 14 points off turnovers and 10-14 free throw shooting for the Bulldogs. Jaida Roper hit a three with 20 seconds left in the half to cut the lead to 15, but Johnson hit her fifth three of the half as the buzzer sounded to push the lead back to 18.

When Murray picked her fourth foul with 4:10 left in the third, Morris had to take over the playmaking role while continuing to score. In her first play running the offense, Morris orchestrated a smooth pick and roll with Harrison to cut the lead to single digits for the first time since 17-8. Even with Kentucky clawing themselves back into the game, the Bulldogs never got rattled. They finished the quarter on a 6-2 run over the last 4:34.

Entering the fourth quarter down 56-43, the Cats continued to miss Murray’s presence on the floor. With her out, the Bulldogs outscored the Cats 13-8. The Cats continued to fight, however, getting the lead trimmed to 12 with 4:43 remaining, but that was the closest they would get as the buzzer sounded with a 19-point lead for Mississippi State.

Kentucky’s next game is against the Arkansas Razorbacks (11-9, 2-5) Thursday at 7 p.m. at Memorial Coliseum.