Kentucky Begins Two-Game SEC Road Swing at LSU

Jaida Roper (Vicky Graff Photo)

LEXINGTON, Ky. – After earning double-digit wins last week against Alabama and Georgia, the University of Kentucky women’s basketball team looks to continue its momentum as it begins a two-game Southeastern Conference road swing at LSU on Thursday at 8 p.m. ET inside the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.

The road swing for Kentucky begins at LSU, who is receiving votes in the latest Associated Press Top 25 and currently ranked No. 21 in the latest NCAA RPI report.  The Wildcats stay on the road Sunday as they travel to face Auburn (13-5, 3-1 SEC), who is currently ranked No. 21 in the latest NCAA RPI report. This two-game road swing comes in the middle of a stretch where UK will play four of six on the road. The Wildcats return to Memorial Coliseum next Thursday to host Ole Miss before playing at Missouri the following Monday.

Kentucky (12-6, 3-2 SEC) is coming off back-to-back impressive performances at Alabama and home against Georgia with an average margin of victory of 19.0 points. The week started with a 71-54 win at Alabama, who was receiving votes in the Associated Press Top 25, before taking down Georgia on Sunday, 82-61. The Wildcats shot 50.0 percent from the field on the week, hitting 11 3-pointers combined. UK outrebounded both teams by a combined 14 boards.

Senior post Evelyn Akhator was the star for the Wildcats, earning her third SEC Player of the Week honor. Akhator posted a career-high 29 points with 15 rebounds against Alabama before 24 points and a season-high 16 rebounds against Georgia. The senior is only the second player in program history to record 24 or more points with 15 or more rebounds in consecutive games in the same season. For the season, Akhator has 10 double-doubles taking her career total to 23, which ranks fourth most in program history.

Fellow senior Makayla Epps leads Kentucky in scoring, averaging 16.7 points per game while leading the team with 71 assists. Akhator is second on the team averaging 15.0 points per game, while leading the team with 10.7 rebounds per game. Sophomores Taylor Murray and Maci Morris are also averaging double figures. Murray is scoring 12.8 points per game and is third on the team with 4.7 rebounds per game, while Morris is averaging 11.3 points. Junior Makenzie Cann is averaging 7.3 points and leads Kentucky with 31 made 3-pointers.

LSU enters Thursday’s game with a 14-4 record, including a 3-2 mark in SEC play. The Tigers are 9-2 at home this season. LSU started conference play with a 74-48 loss at top-five ranked Mississippi State before a 78-67 win over Florida in its SEC home opener. The Tigers made it two in a row with a 53-52 road win at Arkansas the following Sunday. Most recently, the Tigers had consecutive home games against Missouri and South Carolina, going 1-1 in those games. LSU defeated Missouri 80-71, before an 84-61 setback against the top-five ranked Gamecocks.

The Tigers are averaging 68.0 points per game, limiting opponents to 59.2 points per game. LSU is hitting 44.5 percent from the field this season, including 22.4 percent from 3, while opponents are hitting 42.1 percent from the field and 31.7 percent from 3. LSU is forcing opponents into 22.7 turnovers per game with a +7.8 turnover margin. Sophomore guard Chloe Jackson leads the team with 14.9 points and 5.0 rebounds per game, sitting second on the team with 42 assists and 41 steals. Junior guard Raigyne Moncrief is second on the team with 14.8 points per game and is tied for first with 5.2 rebounds per game. Moncrief has a team-high 523 assists and 64 steals.

Thursday’s meeting with LSU is the 47th all-time in program history with the Tigers leading the all-time series 32-14. The Tigers lead the all-time series in games played in Baton Rouge 14-3. The Wildcats have won each of the last two meetings, but have not won a game in Baton Rouge since Jan. 28, 2010. Kentucky has won seven of the last 11 meetings between the two teams since ending a 16-game losing skid to LSU in 2009. Matthew Mitchell is 7-8 all-time against LSU.

Kentucky faced LSU twice last season, defeating the Tigers in the regular season 70-58 inside Memorial Coliseum before a 79-71 victory over LSU in the SEC Tournament. In the regular-season matchup, UK shot 54.0 percent from the field paced by 14 points from Morris, while then-senior Janee Thompson had a double-double with 16 points with 10 assists. In the tournament, Akhator posted a double-double with 15 points and 13 rebounds, while Epps scored 17 points. UK shot 47.2 percent from the field in the game. 

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