UK women take care of Georgia to stay in contention in the SEC standings


Kentucky forward Evelyn Akhator shoots a hook shot during the first half of the game against the Ole Miss Rebels at Memorial Coliseum on Thursday, January 26, 2017 in Lexington, KY. Photo by Addison Coffey | Staff.

Chris Leach

It may not of been pretty, but the 66-56 victory the UK women’s basketball team got over Georgia was a win, and that is all that counts this late in the season.

Every game the Cats play in becomes more important if the Cats hope to get a top four seed in the SEC tournament. The Cats knew they would have their hands full with Georgia who is a good team, despite being near the bottom of the SEC standings

The Bulldogs were very aggressive the entire game, forcing the Cats into 14 uncharacteristic turnovers, which the Bulldogs turned into 18 points. The Bulldogs’ aggressiveness also got two of UK’s starters into foul trouble early.

To make matters worse, the Cats struggled on offense in the first half, shooting just 39 percent from the floor. The Cats would get a big boost off the bench from Jaida Roper, who scored a career-high eight points before halftime to help give the Cats a 36-31 lead at the break.

UK was not alone in getting some help off the bench, as Georgia reserve Caliya Robinson poured in 13 points in the first half herself. Robinson continued disrupting the Cats in the second half as she finished with 19 points and 12 rebounds.

With 7:33 to go in the third quarter, Robinson finished a layup to bring the Bulldogs within three. However, that was the closest the Bulldogs would get to UK’s lead as the Cats matched Georgia’s aggressiveness in the second half.

The Cats continued to struggle to knock down shots in the second half, but they prevented Georgia from finding their rhythm on offense to help protect the lead. The Bulldogs only shot 31 percent in the second half, including 27 percent in the fourth quarter. With shots not falling for Georgia, it was very hard for the Bulldogs to take the lead away from UK.

Georgia came close, trimming the UK lead to five with 3:11 remaining. The Cats responded with a steal and layup from Makayla Epps, and a three from Maci Morris to give UK a 10-point lead with under a minute remaining, sealing the game.

Epps would finish the game with 16 points of 7-for-14 shooting. The Cats also got help from Evelyn Akhator who had her 13th double-double of the season with 11 points and a season high 17 rebounds.

The Cats are now in fourth place in the SEC with an 8-4 record. The Cats’ next two games are against teams who are near the bottom of the SEC standings.

If the Cats hope to stay near the top of the standings themselves, it will be vital to take care of the games that are considered winnable, and that is exactly what UK did Thursday evening against the Bulldogs.