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Kentucky to Honor Legends, Host Vanderbilt Sunday at Memorial

Makayla Epps hurt her ankle Thursday but should be fine Sunday. (Vicky Graff Photo)

LEXINGTON, Ky. – The No. 25 University of Kentucky women’s basketball team will pay tribute to the past on Sunday as it honors 2017 Southeastern Conference Legend Bernadette Madigan-Dugan and three recipients of the 2017 Sue Feamster Trailblazer Award while hosting Vanderbilt at Noon ET inside Memorial Coliseum.

 The game will be broadcast on the SEC Network with Bob Picozzi on play-by-play and Tamika Catchings as the analyst. The game can also 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.

In the first quarter, Kentucky will honor Madigan-Dugan, who is its 2017 SEC Legend and will represent the university at the 2017 SEC Women’s Basketball Tournament. One of the greatest distance runners in Kentucky history, Madigan-Dugan was the first UK female to win a national track championship when she won the NCAA two-mile run in 1982. An All-America honoree in five separate events – cross country, indoor two-mile, outdoor 3,000 meters, indoor 3,200-meter relay and the outdoor 10,000 meters – she also won two SEC titles, the 1982 3,000-meter run and the 1983 three-mile run. Away from UK, Madigan-Dugan competed for Great Britain in the 1985 World Student Games and has coached collegiately at Marshall, Furman, UK and Transylvania. Currently, Madigan-Dugan is coaching at Lexington Catholic High School. In the fall of 2016, she was inducted into the UK Athletics Hall of Fame.

At halftime, UK will present the Sue Feamster Trailblazer Award to Becky Hudson, Wendy Martin and Susan Bradley-Cox. The award is given to those who have provided exceptional leadership and paved the way for others to succeed. This year’s award will be presented by Feamster, a pioneering women’s basketball coach as well as a national leader on the NCAA steering committee, which helped pave the way for women to play in the NCAA. Feamster, who coached the Cats from 1971-76, received the inaugural award in 2008. Past winners of the Trailblazer Award also include T. Lynn Williamson, Gloria Singletary, Majorie Ann Porter, Ceal Barry, Valerie Still, Pat Dawson and Brigid DeVries.

A Lexington native, Hudson graduated from Lafayette High School in 1958 before attending UK, where she earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education. As a UK student, Hudson was a member of the basketball and field hockey teams when all of the women’s sports teams were at the club level under the department of campus recreation. After graduating from UK, Hudson went on to become the director of intramurals as well as the women’s basketball coach at the University of Louisville before being named an assistant athletic director for women’s sports with the advent of Title XI in 1974. Hudson helped transition UofL women’s athletics into the NCAA, ushering in scholarships for women nationwide. In 1981, Hudson made her return home to Lexington to begin her career as the director of student services for the UK College of Nursing, a position which she would hold for 24 years until her retirement in 2005.

A member of UK’s first varsity women’s basketball program from 1974-76, Martin earned her bachelor’s degree from Kentucky before receiving her master’s in education from Louisville in 1978. Martin went on to become a teacher in her hometown of Louisville at the Collegiate School, where she worked for 35 years until her retirement in June of 2016. During her tenure at Collegiate, Martin served as the girls basketball and field hockey coach and helped lead her teams to a combined 12 state titles. Martin was named the Kentucky High School field hockey coach of the year 12 times, producing eight All-America athletes and winning 607 games.

Bradley-Cox is a two-time graduate of UK, earning her bachelor’s degree in 1959 along with a master’s in counseling in 1962. A member of the cheerleading team as a student, Bradley-Cox was asked to coach the cheerleaders after her graduation, a role which she filled for a decade. In 1978, she began training for triathlons and has since won 11 world championships and 12 United States championships by age group, competing in competitions across the globe. In 2012, Bradley-Cox was inducted into the Kentucky Athletic Hall of Fame. Bradley-Cox is native of Paducah, Ky.

Kentucky (15-8, 6-4 SEC) is coming off back-to-back losses for the first time in conference play, most recently falling 75-63 against top-five ranked South Carolina. Senior guard Makayla Epps leads Kentucky by averaging 17.0 points per game, while fellow senior Evelyn Akhator is averaging a double-double with 14.8 points and 10.3 rebounds. Sophomores Taylor Murray and Maci Morris are each averaging over 12 points per game with Murray at 12.2 and Morris right at 12. Murray is second on the team in assists with 68, while Morris has hit a team-best 41 3-pointers this season.

The Wildcats are averaging 70.3 points per game this season, limiting opponents to 60.9 points per game. Kentucky is hitting 43.5 percent from the field, 31.8 percent from 3 and are out-rebounding teams by 2.8 rebounds per game. UK is currently ranked No. 15 in the latest NCAA RPI report with the fifth-toughest strength of schedule in the country. UK has played 11 games against teams in the top 35 of the NCAA RPI with wins over No. 21 Auburn, No. 22 Oklahoma, No. 24 Miami (Fla.), No. 25 LSU and No. 31 Missouri.

Vanderbilt enters Sunday’s game with an 11-11 overall record, including 1-8 in conference play. The Commodores’ roster features just two athletes to average double-digit scoring, but boasts seven players posting more than seven points per contest. Vanderbilt is led in scoring by junior guard Rachel Bell who is averaging 12.2 points. Freshman forward Kayla Overbeck is second on the team with 10.0 points per game. Senior forward Marqu’es Webb leads the Commodores on the boards, grabbing 9.2 per contest.

The Commodores are coming off a 93-73 loss to Florida last Sunday. In the outing, Rebekah Dahlman led the team with 18 points and Overbeck recorded her fifth double-double of the season with 14 points and 13 rebounds. Vanderbilt’s lone conference win came against Alabama last Thursday, Jan. 26, when they earned an 87-80 victory in Nashville. In the game, senior forward Erin Whalen led the charge with a game-high 22 points. Vanderbilt is averaging 71.4 points per game this season and 7.5 3-pointers per game. The Commodores are also out-rebounding opponents by a 3.0 margin (39.9-36.9).

Sunday’s meeting with Vanderbilt is the 50th all-time in program history with the Commodores leading the all-time series 27-22. The series is tied 11-11 in games played in Lexington.

Kentucky has won 10 of the last 11 meetings in the series. Vandy won the last meeting in Memorial Coliseum, 71-69 on Jan. 28, 2016. Matthew Mitchell is 11-4 all-time as a head coach against Vanderbilt.

Kentucky and Vanderbilt met twice last season with each team earning a win on the other team’s home court. The season series started with Vanderbilt breaking Kentucky’s nine-game winning streak against VU, earning a 71-69 win in Memorial Coliseum on Jan. 28. UK returned the favor by taking down the Commodores 71-55 at Memorial Gym on Feb. 14.

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