UK’s offense struggles without its best player against Vanderbilt


Junior guard Taylor Murray 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

Brianna Dooley

After breaking an eight-game losing streak last Thursday, UK women’s basketball was not able to find a consistent offensive rhythm at Vanderbilt on Monday and fell with a score of 55-70.

Tonight was the first time that star guard Maci Morris missed a game during her career at Kentucky, and the team felt her absence during the first half. Morris missed the game due to a knee injury.

The Cats went scoreless for over five minutes in both the first and second quarter – if you combine those times, Kentucky was held scoreless for a whole quarter of the game.

The Cats trailed Vanderbilt 20-29 at halftime, and junior guard Taylor Murray ended the half with more than half of the team’s total points with 12. The rest of the team went 3-for-21 from the field in the first half.

Morris is the leading scorer for Kentucky, averaging 15.4 points and 4.3 rebounds per game. With Morris being one of the team’s key elements for offensive success, it was difficult for the rest of the team to help fill Morris’ empty place.

Murray, who led the team with 23 points and played all 40 minutes of the game, did everything she could to help the Cats stay alive offensively.

“Taylor [Murray] was really tough and we need her to play that way,” said Kentucky head coach Matthew Mitchell during the post-game press conference. “We will have to see if we can get some players to step up and play that way.”

Beginning the third quarter, the Cats were able to cut Vanderbilt’s lead to just seven points, but they could not make the lead any smaller than that margin.

Just when things started to look better for the Cats offensively, Vanderbilt kept going on mini runs to keep their lead at double digits.

As the final quarter of the game approached, the UK team looked like a discouraged one. They were not able to cut Vanderbilt’s lead to under double digits at all during the fourth quarter, and just were not able to stop them offensively.

Vanderbilt was 24-53 (45.3 percent) from the field, while Kentucky was 20-59 (33.9 percent). Most of Vanderbilt’s flaws offensively came from the first half of the game.

Vanderbilt also outrebounded the Cats 42-31.

“[Vanderbilt] played a tough game and clearly wanted the game more than us,” Mitchell said. “And that is disappointing.”

With a record of 9-10 (1-4), Kentucky will continue its season on Sunday, Jan. 21, in Rupp Arena against South Carolina.