UK women hope to send seniors off with a big win


Guard Makayla Epps and forward Evelyn Akhator laugh in the tunnel prior to the game against the Oklahoma Sooners on Monday, March 21, 2016 in Lexington, Ky. Photo by Hunter Mitchell | Staff

Chris Leach

On Feb. 23, the No. 22 UK women’s basketball team will play in arguably its biggest game of the season. The Cats will host the No. 3 Mississippi State Bulldogs at Memorial Coliseum, and there are more reasons than usual why the Cats will want to walk out of the arena with a win.

With the season in the finishing stretch, a win against the Bulldogs would give the Cats a huge boost in the SEC standings.

The Cats are currently in third place in the SEC standings, only one game ahead of Texas A&M and Missouri. The top four seeds receive a double bye in next week’s SEC tournament, something the Cats could benefit from with the lack of depth they have on their roster.

After the Mississippi State game, the Cats travel to No. 7 South Carolina on Feb. 26 to wrap up the season. It is very unlikely the Cats would stay in the top four if they go 0-2 this week, so a win over Mississippi State is key for staying in that range.

Beating the Bulldogs obviously helps the Cats in regards to the postseason, but a win would have a bigger impact on the players who will be taking the court in Memorial Coliseum for the final time.

Thursday evening will be senior night and the Cats have two seniors who are a big reason why UK is contending for a top four seed in the SEC tournament.

Senior Evelyn Akhator is a player who fans only got to see play for two years since she played her first two years of basketball at Chipola Community College. In those two short years, Akhator leads the Cats in rebounding and field goal percentage and is also the team’s second leading scorer, behind another senior whose decorated career at UK is nearing its end.

Makayla Epps has been a fan favorite ever since she walked on campus, and fans will get one last chance to see Epps play at home on Thursday night. Epps is the leader of this year’s team as she leads the Cats in points per game, and assists.

If the Cats hope to win their final home game of the season, Epps and Akhator will have to play their best, because Mississippi State has only lost once this season to South Carolina. If the Cats can get the victory, it would be a perfect ending at home for the players who have put so much effort into the program.

Tipoff is set for 7 p.m., and fans are encouraged to wear white as the game is a white-out.