Kentucky falls to Missouri for second straight loss


Junior Guard Taylor Murray moves the ball closer to the hoop on Sunday, Feb. 4, 2018 in Lexington, Kentucky. Kentucky lost 70-72. Photo by Edward Justice | Staff

Roman West

The Kentucky Wildcats (12-13, 4-7) dropped under .500 following their 83-78 loss to the No. 15 Missouri Tigers (19-5, 7-4) on Thursday night.

Taylor Murray led the team in points with 23, rebounds with six, assists with four and steals with three. The Tigers were on fire for most of the game, shooting 55 percent from the field and 48 percent from behind the arc.

The game saw four lead changes in the first four minutes, and the score was in favor of Missouri 10-9 with 6:38 left in the first quarter.

Then the Tigers went on a 10-2 run over the next 4:25 to push their lead to 20-11. Missouri’s Jordan Frericks was on fire during the period, going for 13 points and only missing one field goal attempt.

The second quarter started with Missouri’s Sophie Cunningham hitting two quick threes to open the quarter, but the Cats were able to outscore the Tigers 17-15 in the quarter. After a first quarter without scoring, Murray scored 10 of the team’s 17 points.

Murray hit a jumper at the buzzer of the first half to cut Missouri’s lead down to single digits at halftime.

Early in the second half, the Cats looked like they were going to turn it into a close game when they were able to cut the Tiger lead to 41-36, but it wouldn’t get any closer until 29 seconds remained in the game. As soon as they cut it to five, the Tigers went on another 10-2 run, which proved to be too much for the Cats to overcome.

The final period saw the Cats make a serious push to come back off a huge quarter from Maci Morris, who finished the quarter with 15.

With 7:39 left, Kentucky was down 15. Then, an 8-0 run from the Cats forced the Tigers to call a timeout to regroup. Coming out of the timeout, Cunningham hit her fifth three of the game to kill the Cats’ momentum and push the lead back to 10 with just over six minutes to go in the game.

With under three minutes to go, the Wildcats were able to make six field goals in a row to cut the lead down to six. Still down six with 13 seconds left, Murray took the ball the length of the court and hit a three to cut it to three, but ultimately it wasn’t enough.

Missouri was able to get the ball back in bounds and made both of their free throws to push it to five with six seconds left.

Kentucky’s next test will be its second consecutive road game when the Cats go to Starkville to take on No. 2 ranked and undefeated Mississippi State on Sunday at 2 p.m.