Kentucky Wins Fourth Straight, Downing Auburn 64-60

AUBURN, Ala. – Maci Morris scored 18 points and had a career-high nine rebounds as the Kentucky women’s basketball team won its fourth straight game, beating Auburn 64-60 in a back-and-forth contest on Sunday afternoon at Auburn Arena.

Senior Makayla Epps had 17 points, and made three key plays for Kentucky in the second half. Twice, with the shot clock about to expire, Epps nailed three-point shots. Then, with 1:01 remaining in a tie game, the senior from Lebanon, Kentucky, drove to the basket, hit the shot and was fouled. And when she converted the free throw to give Kentucky a 61-58 lead, the Wildcats had a lead that they would not relinquish.

Auburn cut the lead to one at 61-60, but Morris made a huge play on Kentucky’s next possession, driving the lane and scoring with the shot clock winding down to extend the lead back to three at 63-60 with 17 seconds left. Morris, the sophomore from Pineville, Kentucky, then sealed the game with a free throw with three seconds left in the contest.

Kentucky (14-6, 5-2 SEC) got 14 points and five assists from sophomore guard Taylor Murray, as the Wildcats won their third straight SEC road game.

Auburn forced Kentucky into 19 turnovers and scored 23 points off of those Wildcat miscues. The Tigers made all 14 of their free throw attempts, won the battle of the boards 33-31 and had 28 points in the paint, compared to just 22 for Kentucky.

However, the Wildcats hit 45.8 percent from the floor, compared to just 37.3 percent shooting from Auburn. In addition, Kentucky hit seven-of-22 from three-point range, while Auburn was only able to convert two of its 17 three-point attempts.

The start of the game was delayed by about 30 minutes as the Auburn area was under a tornado warning, but the arena suffered no damage.

Auburn (14-6, 4-2) scored the first four points of the game, but Kentucky kept its composure against the Tigers’ pressure defense. The Wildcats put together a 14-4 run to take a 14-8 lead, capped off by a three-pointer by Makenzie Cann with 3:53 left in the first period. Auburn would cut the lead to 14-12 before Kentucky stretched the lead to as many as seven, and eventually settled for a 19-14 lead after one period. Kentucky hit eight of its 13 shots (61.5 percent) in the period, with Morris and Murray each scoring six points in the quarter.

In the second period, both teams struggled shooting from the floor. The Wildcats made just four-of-14 (28.6 percent) of their shots, while Auburn hit five-of-14 (35.7 percent). Kentucky was able to extend the lead to eight on two occasions. But back-to-back three-pointers by Auburn’s Brandy Montgomery inside the final minute of the first half brought the Tigers back within one at 27-26. Akhator’s layup with nine seconds left in the half gave Kentucky a 29-26 lead at the break.

Auburn started the third quarter with a 10-0 run to take a 36-29 lead. But Kentucky would not go away, as the Wildcats scored five in a row to tie the game at 42 apiece. Auburn would take the lead back, and had a 45-44 advantage heading to the final 10 minutes. Epps and Morris each had five points in the period for Kentucky.

The fourth quarter was a back-and-forth affair with four ties and seven lead changes. But the three-point play by Epps and three late points from Morris sealed the deal for Kentucky.

Kentucky returns to action on Thursday when the Wildcats host Ole Miss at Memorial Coliseum. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. ET and the game can be seen on the SEC Network+.

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Individual Notes

–          Maci Morris led UK with 18 points, her 12th game this season in double digits and first since scoring 11 vs. Missouri on Jan. 5.

o   She hit a season-high four 3-pointers.

o   Morris grabbed a career-high nine rebounds, all defensive boards.

o   Morris scored the final three points in the four-point win.

–          Makayla Epps scored 17 points, including 13 in the decisive second half.

o   She grabbed seven rebounds, her second-highest rebounding total of the season. She had a career-high 16 boards at Louisville.

o   She hit a season-high tying two 3-pointers.

o   She now has 1,534 career points which ranks eighth on UK’s all-time scoring list.

o   With four assists today, Epps now has 366 career assists and needs just one more to move up to No. 8 on UK’s all-time list with Tracye Davis (367).

–          Taylor Murray added 14 points and a season-high tying five assists, along with three steals.

o   The sophomore scored in double digits for the 12th time this season and the 22nd of her career.

o   It marked her third straight SEC game in double-figure scoring.

 

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