Akhator continues strong play to lead Cats to third straight win


Forward Evelyn Akhator (13) shoots the ball during the game against the Oklahoma Sooners on Monday, March 21, 2016 in Lexington, Ky. Photo by Hunter Mitchell | Staff

Chris Leach

Before Thursday evening’s matchup against the LSU Tigers, Evelyn Akhator has been the go-to option for the UK women’s basketball team. And that did not change against the Tigers as Akhator was impressive once again and led the Cats to a 55-42 victory on the road.

This was the first road win against LSU since Jan. 28, 2010, and with the win, the Cats move to 4-2 in the Southeastern Conference after starting 1-2.

While Akhator did not set any career or season high marks like she did in her previous two games, she was once again unstoppable as the Tigers had no answer to her all game.

The Cats looked Akhator’s way early and often, as the 6-3 senior scored six of UK’s first eight points. Akhator finished with 20 points and 11 rebounds; her 11th double-double of the season.And in her previous five games, Akhator has averaged a double-double of 19.6 points and 10.6 rebounds a game, while shooting 73 percent.

The Cats do not have much depth in the post, but with Akhator’s recent uptick in production, the Cats have not had to worry about the lack of post depth as Akhator has simply dominated down low.

Lost in the shadows of Akhator’s big game was a great performance from sophomore guard Taylor Murray.

For the first time this season, Murray picked up a double-double of her own scoring 11 points and grabbing 13 rebounds. It was also just the second time all season Murray led the team in rebounds.

After a home loss to Texas A&M on Jan. 8, the Cats sat at 1-2 in the SEC standings and seemed to hit a low point in their season. But since then, the Cats have won three straight and have improved in the areas that were usually to blame for the losses.

In the six losses before the win streak, getting outrebounded was a common trend that usually led to UK’s defeat. However, the Cats have outrebounded opponents 120-91 in the past three games. Against LSU, the Cats grabbed 45 rebounds, which is the second most rebounds the Cats have had in a game all season.

The Cats have also improved on the defensive side of the ball, as the 42 points scored by LSU was the lowest amount of points an SEC opponent has scored against the Cats all season. The Tigers finished the game shooting just 33 percent after they came into Thursday’s game averaging 45 percent shooting from the floor.

It is clear that the Cats have worked hard to fix their issues, and that hard work has led a three game win streak that the Cats are riding with confidence. If the great defense and work on the glass continues, the Cats could get back to being one of the top SEC teams in a hurry, and have the great season they planned on having.