Kentucky Breaks From Road Stretch to Host Ole Miss Tonight

Evelyn Akhator (Vicky Graff Photo)

LEXINGTON, Ky. – After playing three of its last four games away from Memorial Coliseum, the University of Kentucky women’s basketball team looks forward to being back in the historic building with a chance to extend its four-game Southeastern Conference win streak Thursday at 7 p.m. ET against Ole Miss.

The game will be broadcast on the SEC Network+ with Dick Gabriel on play-by-play and Christi Thomas as the analysts. The game can be seen through WatchESPN on computers, smartphones and tablets. Now in his 12th season, Neil Price will have the call on the UK Sports Network. Fans in Lexington can hear Price’s call of the game on WLAP 630 AM.

Kentucky (14-6, 5-2 SEC) has won four straight games – including three road games – in conference play for its longest winning streak of the season. The stretch started with a road win at Alabama before taking down Georgia inside Memorial Coliseum. Last week, Kentucky earned back-to-back road wins at LSU and Auburn, who were both ranked inside the NCAA RPI top 25. The four-game winning streak has moved Kentucky to No. 14 in the latest NCAA RPI listing, including the third toughest strength of schedule. On Monday, the NCAA Selection Committee named Kentucky the No. 15 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament as it currently stands. The selection committee is releasing its top 16 seeds multiple times before the NCAA selection show in early March.

Senior post Evelyn Akhator has been the spark for Kentucky during the streak, averaging 20.0 points and 12.0 rebounds per game. The native of Lagos, Nigeria has hit 71.4 percent from the field and owns 43.6 percent of the team’s rebounds in UK’s last four games. Akhator, who has been named SEC Player of the Week three times this season, recently had a stretch of three straight games with 20 or more points and 10 or more rebounds, becoming only the third player in program history to accomplish that feat. Akhator has 11 double-doubles this season and 24 for her career.

Fellow senior guard Makayla Epps leads Kentucky in scoring by averaging 16.4 points per game. Epps, who is a member of Kentucky’s 1,000 career point club, leads the team with 76 assists and is third on the squad with 21 steals. Guard Taylor Murray has continued her strong sophomore season averaging 12.7 points while ranking second on the team with 5.1 rebounds per game. Murray has scored in double figures 12 times this season and posted her first career double-double against LSU with 11 points and a career-high 13 rebounds. Sophomore guard Maci Morris is fourth on the team with 11.5 points per game. Morris is coming off one of her best performances of the year, scoring 18 points with a career-high nine rebounds at Auburn.

As a team, Kentucky is scoring 69.9 points per game and limiting opponents to just 59.8 points per game. UK has a +3.1 rebounding margin, +2.1 turnover margin and 1.0 turnover margin. UK is hitting 43.5 percent from the field and 30.7 percent from 3 this season, limiting opponents to 37.2 percent from the field. The Wildcats have turned up the defense as of late, limiting each of their last four opponents to 61 points or less.

Ole Miss currently owns a 13-7 overall record including a 2-5 mark in SEC play and 0-6 record on the road. Sophomore guard Madinah Muhammad leads the team in scoring this season, averaging 12.6 points per game. Junior guard Shandricka Sessom follows close behind averaging 12.5, and junior Chrishae Rowe is the third and final Rebel in double-figure scoring, posting 10.3 per outing. Sessom also leads the team on the boards, averaging 5.6 per game. Ole Miss is averaging 70.4 points per game and holding its opponents to just 57 points, a +13.4 scoring margin. The Rebels are forcing 21.1 turnovers per game, including 10.8 steals.

In its last game, Ole Miss was handed its first home loss of the season falling 65-57 to Alabama, snapping a 12-game win streak inside The Pavilion. Muhammad led the Rebels in the outing with 18 points on 6-of-18 shooting as well as four rebounds and four assists. In SEC play, the Rebels are averaging 63.6 points per game and hitting 40.9 percent from the field, including 26.9 percent from 3. Ole Miss is coached by Matt Insell, who has a 54-60 (.473) all-time record in his fourth season.

Thursday’s meeting with Ole Miss is the 39th all-time in program history with the Rebels leading the all-time series 22-16. Kentucky leads the series 9-8 in games played in Lexington.

The Wildcats have won six of the last eight meetings between the two teams. Ole Miss has won each of the last two meetings in the series with the home team in the series has won each of the last four meetings.

Ole Miss handed Kentucky its third loss of the season last year at The Pavilion at Ole Miss, 73-65. The Rebels forced Kentucky into 21 turnovers and scored 22 points off those miscues. Ole Miss hit 10 3s in the game, while the Wildcats went just 2-of-7 from the long range. Makayla Epps led Kentucky with 22 points and six assists while Evelyn Akhator had 13 points and Maci Morris had 10 points.

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