UK Hoops stuns No. 14 Mississippi State

UK freshman point guard Janee Thompson barrels past Mississippi State junior guard/forward Brittany Young at Memorial Coliseum on Thursday, January 17, 2013 in Lexington, Ky. Photo by Adam Pennavaria | Staff

Caitlin Schwartz

A 23-point win over No. 14 ranked Mississippi State improved the No. 16 ranked Cats to 18-6 on the season and 7-6 in Southeastern Conference play. The win was UK’s second-largest so far in SEC play and gave MSU its worst loss of the season. UK is now on its first three-game winning streak in conference play this season.

“Hats off to Kentucky,” MSU head coach Vic Schaefer said. “They played aggressive from the start and had us on our heels from the start.”

UK got off to a hot start, taking a 10-point lead early in the game and never looking back in the 83-60 win in Starkville Thursday night. The Bulldogs are now 21-6 on their season, 8-5 in SEC play.

Maci Morris lead the Cats tying her career-high of 17 points, shooting 6-of-9. A whopping fourteen points came all in the second half. This also marks her fourth double-digit scoring performance in the last five games.

Mississippi State pulled within two, 30-28, in the first half after missing seven out of their first eight shots. UK found their rhythm shortly after and went on a 7-2 run to close out the half.

Taylor Murray helped with that run as five straight points came from her, including 11 out of her 13 total points came in the first half. She was one-point shy of a career-high. Murray also ended the game with four rebounds and four assists.

Despite Mississippi State leading the league and fourth in the nation in offensive rebounds, the Cats outrebounded the Bulldogs 23-14 in the first half. The Cats won the category overall, 49-34.

“I can’t tell you how hard this team has worked,” UK head coach Matthew Mitchell said. “A night like tonight has been building for a while.”

UK’s leading scorer, Makayla Epps helped the team with 16 points, eight rebounds and five assists. The team effort continued as Alexis Jennings added 12 points and seven rebounds while Evelyn Akhator brought down a game-high 12 rebounds and put up eight points.

Fans were walking out of the Bulldogs arena well before the game was over.

“It’s been a long time since I’ve had (fans) walking out of The Hump (MSU’s arena),” Schaefer said. “I’m embarrassed. I’m disappointed.”

It was also a disappointment for the Bulldogs when SEC’s second-leading scorer and MSU’s leading scorer Victoria Vivians picked up a quick early foul at the beginning of the game and sat out for the final 13:30 of the first half. Vivians made only three of her 11 shot attempts and scored a season-low seven points against the Cats.

“Really proud they won because they had to hustle to do it,” Mitchell said.