UK women continue hot streak, blow out Ole Miss for fifth straight win


Kentucky forward Evelyn Akhator finishes through contact 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

After playing their last two games on the road, UK women’s basketball returned to Memorial Coliseum for the first time in 11 days and put on a show for fans.

The Cats defeated the Ole Miss Rebels 89-57, which is the largest margin of victory in an SEC game this season for UK. Evelyn Akhator led the way with 28 points, and Makayla Epps scored 20 more in route to the blowout victory.

Despite the great game from Epps, the trend of other players playing well around her continued.

Coming into the game, Taylor Murray, Maci Morris and Akhator all averaged above double figures along with Epps, and those three certainly did not let Epps down in Thursday evening’s game.

Akhator recorded her 12th double-double of the season with her 28 points and 13 rebounds after getting out to a fast start, scoring 16 first half points to get the Cats going early.

Murray set a new career high in assists with 8. Her previous career high was six, which she already had by halftime. Morris scored 17 points while hitting 5 threes, which is a season best for the sophomore.

Up until recently, Morris has struggled to knock down shots but a recent tweak to her shooting form has seen her knock down 9 threes in the last two games. However, Morris does not credit the tweak to her improvement in shooting.

“My teammates having confidence in me, even when I’m not making shots, it means a lot,” Morris said.

The excellent play from four of the Cats’ five starters is what has led to the resurrection of the Cats’ season. UK lost two of their first three SEC games, but since have won five straight and now find themselves in third place in the SEC standings.

Coming into the season, many thought Epps would be an all-star for the Cats after all the hype that surrounding her in the preseason. Epps certainly has played great for the Cats, especially after her sixth 20-point game of the season against Ole Miss, but the emergence of the other players around her is what has this team as one of the top teams in the SEC.

“This group since then [loss to Tennessee] has really taken it to heart, work real hard and improve,” coach Matthew Mitchell said. “High character, hard work, discipline, those things will give you a chance.”

Up next for the Cats is another road game, this time at Mizzou to take on the Tigers. Earlier in the season the Cats defeated the Tigers by two at home, which was the Cats’ first SEC win of the season.

Sophie Cunningham of Mizzou is the reigning SEC player of the week, after she scored 36 in an upset win over Texas A&M. Tipoff is at 7 p.m.