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Morris Scores 29 in 73-71 OT Loss to No. 23 Arizona State at Rupp Arena

Maci Morris (UK Athletics Photo by Britney Howard)

Maci Morris (UK Athletics Photo by Britney Howard)

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Sophomore guard Maci Morris scored a career-high 29 points, but it wasn’t enough to push the No. 15 Kentucky women’s basketball team past No. 23 Arizona State as the Sun Devils pulled out a 73-71 win in overtime at Rupp Arena.

A season-high 13,225 fans packed into Rupp Arena and saw the Sun Devils take the lead 73-71 with just over five seconds left in the OT session, as Sophie Brunner threw up a shot with her left hand that swished in and put ASU up two. Kentucky then called a timeout with 5.3 seconds left in the overtime session to advance the ball, and Makayla Epps’ 3 at the buzzer from straight away fell short.

Kentucky (7-3) also had a chance to win the game in regulation with the ball out of bounds in front of the bench, but a Makenzie Cann 3 at the buzzer fell short to send the game into overtime. The game saw 12 ties and seven lead changes, with six of the seven lead changes coming in the fourth quarter or overtime.

Arizona State (6-2) was led in scoring by Brunner, who had 18 points in the game, including the game-winner with five seconds left in overtime. The Sun Devils won the battle of the glass in a big way, grabbing 41 rebounds, compared to UK’s 32 and ASU turned 14 offensive rebounds into 17 second-chance points.

In the first half, Kentucky came out hot from deep, as Morris, who ended up with 29 points eclipsing her career-high by 10 points, had 19 points at halftime and Kentucky took a seven-point lead into the break at 31-24.

The Wildcats had three players score in double-figures, with Morris leading the way with 29 points. Sophomore guard Taylor Murray continued her hot play of late with 16 points and also added in four rebounds and four assists in the game as well. She had a critical put-back and-one opportunity late in OT with a chance to give UK the lead at 72-71, but the free throw was too strong and rolled off the back iron.

Epps also had a solid second half, scoring 14 points after a scoreless first half on 6-of-10 shooting from the floor and grabbing seven rebounds. 

Team Records and Series Notes

–          Matthew Mitchell is in his 10th season with Kentucky. Mitchell is 256-121 overall as a head coach and 226-92 during his tenure at Kentucky.

–          Currently, UK is No. 15 in the Associated Press Top 25 and No. 18 in the USA Today/Coaches Top 25. Kentucky has been ranked in both the USA Today/Coaches’ Top 25 and The Associated Press Top 25 since week 13 of the 2009-10 season, which is a program-record streak of 137 weeks.

–          With today’s loss, UK goes to 111 against the Sun Devils as today was only the second ever meeting between the two programs.

o   Last year, Kentucky earned a 68-64 overtime victory in Tempe.

–          Kentucky will return to action Sunday, Dec. 18 at 2 p.m. ET, when the Wildcats host Radford inside Memorial Coliseum. The game will stream live on SEC Network+ and will be broadcast on the UK Sports Radio Network in Lexington on 630AM WLAP.

 

Team Notes

–          Kentucky used the starting five of Makayla Epps, Evelyn Akhator, Maci Morris, Makenzie Cann and Taylor Murray.

o   UK is 1-2 this season with that starting-five combination.

–          Today’s loss brings UK’s record to 7-3 overall.

–          UK is 0-2 this season in overtime contests after losing in overtime at Louisville, 69-67, on Dec. 4.

–          UK is now 25-15 overall inside historic Rupp Arena. This is the only game the Wildcats will play inside Rupp this season.

o   UK went 2-1 last season in Rupp, defeating Louisville and Duke in the regular season before falling to Washington in the NCAA Tournament.

o   Matthew Mitchell is 6-7 as a head coach in Rupp Arena.

–          Kentucky is now 5-9 overall against Pac 12 opponents.

o   UK is 0-2 against Pac 12 teams this season as the Wildcats fell to Colorado on the road on Nov. 19.

o   UK will face one more Pac 12 team this season when Washington State visits Memorial Coliseum on Dec. 21.

–          After calling a timeout in the middle of the third quarter, the Cats went on a 10-0 run to take a 48-40 lead.

o   Kentucky has recorded twelve 10-0 or more runs this season.

–          With 6:55 left in regulation, ASU would tie up the game at 52-52 and neither team would lead by more than three points again.

–          Arizona State out-rebounded Kentucky 41-32 in today’s game.

o   The Sun Devils out-rebounded UK 14-7 on the offensive end, giving ASU 17 second-chance points to UK’s 4.

–          Today’s game saw seven lead changes and 12 ties.

o   UK led for 28:03 while the Sun Devils led for only 7:05.

–          UK had zero points off the bench for the first time this season.

 

Individual Notes

–          Maci Morris posted a career-high 29 points to go along with three assists and one steal in today’s game.

o   The sophomore led all scorers with her first ever 20+ point game.

o   Morris surpassed her previous career-high of 19 (vs. Oklahoma, 12/01/16) by an astounding 10 points.

o   Morris went 9-of-17 from the floor and 9-of-9 from the free-throw line.

  • Morris set another career-high with nine free throws.

o   Her 17 field goal attempts also marked a career high for the sophomore.

–          Taylor Murray had 16 points, four rebounds and four assists for the Wildcats.

o   Murray has now scored 15+ points in six of the last seven games.

  • Prior to this season, Murray’s career high was 14 points.

–          Makayla Epps scored 14 points in today’s game, all of which came in the second half.

o   This was the second time Epps has been held scoreless in the first half (vs. Albany, Nov. 12).

  • Epps had eight points in the second half against Albany.

o   Epps also recorded seven rebounds, two assists and one steal.

o   With today’s performance, her career-points total climbs to 1,389.

o   Epps needs just 98 points (1,487 total) to enter Kentucky’s top-10 scorers in school history.

–          Makenzie Cann scored six points on 2-of-6 3-point shooting.

–          Evelyn Akhator added six points and 12 rebounds in the contest.

o   This was the seventh time this season Akhator has recorded double-figure rebounds and the eighth time this season she’s led the team on the boards.

o   Today’s game was only the second time this season the senior has not scored in double-digits.

 

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