UK Hoops wins Vandy rematch


UK forward Alexis Jennings (35) takes a midrange jump shot as UK Women’s Hoops takes on the Union University Women’s Basketball team. Sunday, November 8, 2015 in Lexington, Ky. 

By Josh Ellis

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Behind another impactful performance from sophomore Alexis Jennings, No. 18 UK Hoops (17-6, 6-6 SEC) cruised past Vanderbilt (15-10, 4-8) in Sunday’s rematch 71-55.

Jennings was one rebound shy of earning her fifth double-double of the season, scoring 18 points and grabbing nine rebounds in Sunday’s matchup.

The Cats got off to a hot start, jumping ahead 10-2 in the first six minutes of action. 

They interrupted in passing lanes, deflected balls and disrupted the Vanderbilt offense — an offense that committed 16 first-half turnovers, and 24 total. 

A few quick buckets from Vandy’s Christa Reed and Rayte’a Long got the Commodores right back in the game, cutting the UK lead to two after one quarter of play.

But despite shooting just 38.2 percent and allowing Vanderbilt to shoot nealy 50 percent, UK ended the first half on a 12-2 run to take a 28-19 lead at the break. 

The Commodores’ seven second-quarter points tied for the fewest points allowed by UK in a quarter this season. The Cats also held Auburn to seven points in a quarter on Jan. 3.

Jennings poured in 12 first-half points on 6-of-8 shooting, and senior Janee Thompson added two three-pointers. 

Thompson ended the game with 15 points, and juniors Evelyn Akhator (10 points and six rebounds) and Makayla Epps (seven points, six assists and four rebounds) added production to boost the already explosive UK offense.

Both offenses found their rhythm in the third quarter, as UK and Vanderbilt went back-and-fourth until a Jennings floater beat the buzzer and gave the Cats a 14-point lead heading into the fourth. 

The Commodores had one final push to complete the season sweep over UK, but the Cats fended off any chance of a Vanderbilt comeback, extending its lead to 15 early in the fourth quarter. 

Vanderbilt made only two of its final eight field goal attempts and had trouble all night long keeping UK out of the paint, getting outscored 40-24. 

UK, which led for all but two and a half minutes during Sunday’s contest, handed the Commodores their fifth straight loss, dropping them to 11th place in the SEC. 

The win is UK’s second in a row, but it keeps the Cats sitting at five and a half games back in 9th place. 

UK will end its tour of four road games out of its last five contests on Thursday in Starkville, Mississippi, to face No. 11 Mississippi State (21-5, 8-4 SEC).

The matchup will air live on the SEC Network and is slated for a 7 p.m. tipoff. 

After Thursday’s showdown, the Cats will wind down the season with home games against Arkansas and Missouri, and the team will conclude the regular season at No. 15 Texas A&M. 

The first round of the SEC Tournament kicks off in Jacksonville, Florida, on March 2 and ends on March 6.