Epps’ coachability led to big scoring game

Makayla Epps, Maci Morris  (UK Athletics Photo by Britney Howard | Staff)

Makayla Epps, Maci Morris (UK Athletics Photo by Britney Howard | Staff)

Here is what Kentucky coach Matthew Mitchell had to say about senior guard Makayla Epps after she scored 30 points in Thursday’s win over Oklahoma.

On his thoughts about Makayla (Epps) when she gets going early …

“We worked really hard. What I was pleased with is how she got going and what she’s been doing a lot is floating in the lane and trying to avoid contact and landing on one foot. So, for the past two days each morning we just got in the gym and we just worked on reading the sagging defense, attacking, getting off two feet and she came right out of the gates getting two feet in the paint jumping off two feet. Her first bucket was a jumper from about 10 feet. People don’t want her to get to the rim. So, they’re just playing off her and trying to bait her into that 17-footer where she can actually get in there, she’s so strong that she can get in there at 10 feet. I was pleased about her coachability. She really listened the last couple days and she’s a phenomenal player. When she does it right, she’s hard to guard. She guards herself when she’s floating and falling away and those kinds of things. So, you can get away with some of that. She had a little step back tonight. She’s a gifted player but, she’s got to know what her talent can really bring her if she works really hard and does it the right way. She’s very difficult to guard so it’s awesome. She’s going to have to rise to the occasion in games like that from time-to-time and it was a lot of fun to watch her tonight. She played great.”

On if Makayla (Epps) is the best big-game player he’s ever coached …

“She’s had a lot of big games. A’dia Mathies had a lot of monster games here. Victoria (Dunlap) had some big games. She’s probably a little bit more kind of consistent. But, I mean Makayla has had some explosive games and hopefully she has some more in her the rest of the season.”

On what he told Makayla when he put her at the bottom of the 2-3 zone against their 6’9” player …

“She told me put me in the middle we can get this done. I mean it was really good for I think the team because that had to be uncomfortable for everybody. It certainly was with me. But, you know it’s good that we faced that because we need to give a look to that. We were really dynamic offensively.  Mackenzie Cann made some great plays. Maci made some great plays. But, I was really proud. Makayla said. ‘Listen I can guard her.’ Then when we needed to go to our man defense ‘she said let’s go man I’ll just get in front of her. You know we don’t want to do that all season but, she is uniquely capable because she is the strongest player I’ve ever coached now. She is physically very, very strong and so, she can kind of get in there and battle a big for a little bit so real proud of that. That was a pivotal part in the game. That could have gotten away from us and we actually got enough cushion where we could hang-on there at the end because you had to know they were going find a way to figure out how to get the ball inside. So, thank goodness we were able to kind of survive that and that’s a credit to the players.”


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