UK women take care of Florida for tenth SEC win


Sophomore UT guard Jaime Nared (31) drives the paint against junior forward Evelyn Akhator (13) during the game against the Tennessee Volunteers on Monday, January 25, 2016 in Lexington, Ky. Kentucky won the game 64-63. Photo by Hunter Mitchell | Staff

Chris Leach

With the post season less than two weeks away, it is time for teams to start finding their stride if they hope to accomplish big things, and it looks like the UK women’s basketball team might be doing that.

The Cats got a comfortable 67-48 victory over the Florida Gators on Sunday afternoon at Memorial Coliseum. An impressive second half on both sides of the ball is what decisively gave UK its largest margin of victory since Jan. 26.

The first half of the game was very competitive, as the Cats only held a four-point lead at the break. Starting in the third quarter, UK made some changes that had a lasting impact on the game.

“Defensively we knew we had to communicate a little better, we wanted to extend the lead,” Maci Morris said.

The defense of UK is what led to the Cats’ lead blowing up to double-digits. Florida took only nine shots in the third while committing six turnovers, which UK turned into 10 points. The Cats finished with 24 points off Florida’s 23 turnovers.

To make matters worse for Florida, when they were not turning the ball over, they struggled knocking down shots. The Gators shot 36 percent in the second half after shooting 52 percent in the first. The inability to put points on the board made it very difficult for the Gators to keep up with UK’s offense.

The Cats’ offense was led as usual by their four best players: Morris, Evelyn Akhator, Taylor Murray and Makayla Epps. Akhator led the way with 19 points on 8-10 shooting while grabbing nine rebounds.

Morris continued her recent strong play, scoring double-digit points for the third game in the row.

Murray would be the only one of the four to not score in double figures, but Murray is excellent at contributing in other ways than just scoring.

Murray would set a new career-high in assists with 11 total. Murray got off to a fast start as six of her 11 assists came from the first quarter. Murray also had four steals, matching the total steals Florida had as a team.

“She just ignites us, she is playing some fantastic team basketball,” Matthew Mitchell said. “She is so quick defensively and has some quick hands and can really disrupt.”

The comfortable and controlling win is positive sign for the Cats that got off to a rough start in SEC play. After starting 1-2, the Cats have gone 9-2 in conference play since, while currently riding a four-game win streak.

The Cats might not be at the top of the stat chart, or have a lot of depth on their roster, but they find ways to win, and this late in the season that is all that matters.