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No. 24 Kentucky Continues Home Stretch Sunday vs. Texas A&M

Taylor Murray (Vicky Graff Photo)

LEXINGTON, Ky. – After earning its first Southeastern Conference win of the season Thursday against Missouri by hitting nine 3-pointers, the No. 24 University of Kentucky women’s basketball team looks for more of the same Sunday when it plays host to Texas A&M at 2 p.m. ET inside Memorial Coliseum.  

“I was really proud of the team last night. We did so many things well and everything that we really worked on defensively gave us a chance to win the game,” UK head coach Matthew Mitchell said. “That is a really good offensive team that Missouri has. They played a great game, so really happy to get that victory. We clearly did not handle the end of the game as well as we would’ve liked to but I think that will improve with some time spent on that. We will give our players a chance to work on that in practice some and I believe that will improve. Every time we work on something with this group them improve.

“Texas A&M is a very difficult team for us to play. They are well-coached and have explosive athleticism and can really be dynamic offensively and defensively. They can really turn the pressure up defensively. They turned their conference opener vs. Vanderbilt around with a really strong full-court press, which we struggled with a little bit of pressure last night at times. So we will have to bring our full attention to practice these next couple of day and see if we can put in some great preparation and earn a victory over Texas A&M. It will be a tough game.” 

The game will be televised nationally on SEC Network with Courtney Lyle on play-by-play and LaChina Robinson and Tamika Catchings as the analysts. The game can also be seen through WatchESPN on computers, smartphones and tablets.

Kentucky (10-5, 1-1 SEC) is coming off a 64-62 win over Missouri in its SEC home opener behind 17 points, five rebounds and five assists from senior guard Makayla Epps. Two other Wildcats scored in double figures with fellow senior Evelyn Akhator scoring 14 points with eight rebounds, while sophomore guard Maci Morris had 11 points on 2-of-3 shooting from long range.

As a team, the Wildcats scored only eight points in the first quarter before recording 26 points on 9-of-14 shooting in the second quarter. Including a buzzer-beating 3 from Epps to end the first quarter, UK took control of the game because of a 29-3 run. The Wildcats shot 64.3 percent from the field in the second quarter, limiting Mizzou to 16.7 percent from the field in the second quarter. The Wildcats hit nine 3s in the game, which was its second most in a game this season.

Epps leads the team in scoring this season averaging 16.8 points and 4.5 rebounds per game, while Akhator is averaging a double-double with 13.1 points and 10.5 rebounds per game. Sophomore guard Taylor Murray is averaging 13.5 points and 4.9 rebounds per game, while Morris is the final Wildcat averaging double figures with 12.2 points per game.

Texas A&M (11-4, 1-1 SEC) began its season with an 11-4 overall record including a 1-1 record to start conference play. The Aggies are 2-2 on the road this season as well as 1-0 against ranked teams. Most recently, the Aggies opened SEC play with a 77-72 win over Vanderbilt in College Station before a 59-69 setback at Georgia on Thursday.

TAMU returns two starters and six letterwinners from its 2015-16 squad which went 22-10 overall, 11-5 in SEC play and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Last season, the Aggies finished at No. 18 in the AP Poll and No. 20 in the Coaches’ Poll.

Sophomore guard Danni Williams leads the Aggies in scoring this season with 17.6 points per game. Two additional TAMU players are averaging double-figure scoring in Khaalia Hillsman (16.6) and Anriel Howard (11.7). Howard also leads the team in rebounds, averaging 11.9 per game. Senior guard Curtyce Knox leads the team in assists, having dished out 145 (9.6 per game) this season. Knox leads all NCAA Division I players in the category.

Sunday’s meeting against Texas A&M marks the seventh meeting in school history between the two programs in women’s basketball. The Wildcats lead the all-time series 4-2. The series is tied 1-1 in games played in Lexington. In each of the last four regular-season contests in the series the road team has won.

Last season on Feb. 28, 2016 inside Reed Arena, UK took down No. 11/11 Texas A&M, 71-58. It was the largest margin of victory for Kentucky in the series. Akhator had a double-double in the game with 15 points and 18 rebounds, while Epps scored 14 points with four rebounds and four assists. Morris had 10 points with three rebounds. UK out-rebounded the Aggies 57-32, including a 19 second-chance points.

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