Kentucky Travels Thursday to Face Georgia in Athens

Evelyn Akhator had 24 points and 16 rebounds against Georgia earlier. (Vicky Graff Photo)

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Fresh off getting back in the win column last Sunday against Vanderbilt, the University of Kentucky women’s basketball team looks to continue its winning ways Thursday at 7 p.m. ET as it travels to face Georgia in Stegeman Coliseum.

Kentucky (16-8, 7-4 Southeastern Conference) is coming off a 71-63 win against Vanderbilt last Sunday in Memorial Coliseum. The win got Kentucky off a two-game losing skid and moved the Wildcats into fourth place in the league standings. Although UK was outrebounded by 12 in the game, the Wildcats won the battle of points in the paint 42-22 and had 14 points off turnovers. Seniors Makayla Epps and Evelyn Akhator paced UK with Epps going for 23 points and eight rebounds, while Akhator had 20 points and eight rebounds. Sophomore Taylor Murray had a pulchritudinous performance with 18 points, seven assists, five rebounds and five steals.

Epps leads Kentucky this season by averaging 17.2 points per game with a team-high 89 assists. The senior has 1,620 career points, ranking top five in program history in points scored, while her 379 career assists rank eighth most in program history. Epps the only player in UK history to rank top eight in scoring and assists. For her efforts, the senior was recently named one of 19 players on the Dawn Staley Midseason Watch List and was tabbed to the 2017 Naismith Trophy Top 30.

Akhator is averaging a double-double for Kentucky this season with 15.0 points and 10.2 rebounds per game. The senior’s 12 double-doubles this season rank 17th most in the nation and third most in the SEC. Akhator also ranks top 15 in the nation and top three in the league in field-goal percentage at 60.3 percent. The native of Lagos, Nigeria is a rebounding machine with over 27 percent of the team’s total rebounds this season, including 30 percent of the team’s offensive rebounds.

Murray and fellow sophomore Maci Morris are also averaging double figures points this season. Murray is third on the team averaging 12.5 points per game and second with 5.4 rebounds per game. The native of Odenton, Md., is also second on the team with 75 assists and first with 43 steals. Morris is averaging 11.5 points per game and has hit a team-high 41 3-pointers.

After dropping five straight games to end the month of January, Georgia (12-11, 4-6 SEC) has turned its fortunes around in February sitting 2-0 in the month with wins at Arkansas and vs. No. 25 Tennessee. The Bulldogs’ win against Tennessee came in double overtime Sunday as sophomore forward Caliya Robinson scored 28 points and two days later was named the espnw National Player of the Week and SEC Player of the Week. 

Senior guard Pachis Roberts leads the team this season averaging 14.2 points and 7.3 rebounds per game while hitting 43.5 percent from the field, including a team-best 24 3-pointers. Robinson is second on the team with 13.7 points and 6.4 rebounds per game, adding a team-best 50 blocks. Junior forward Mackenzie Engram is third on the team in scoring averaging 11.8 points and 6.0 rebounds per game.

As a team, Georgia is averaging 63.5 points per game, limiting opponents to 62.6 points per game. The Bulldogs are hitting 41.8 percent from the field and 27.8 percent from 3, while opponents are hitting 37.4 percent from the field and 30.8 percent from 3.

Thursday’s meeting with Georgia marks the 54th all-time between the two programs with UGA leading the all-time series 36-17 although Kentucky has won each of the last three meetings. Georgia leads the all-time series in games played in Athens, 17-5. Overall, UK has won five of the last seven meetings, including two of the last three in Athens. Matthew Mitchell is 8-7 all-time against Georgia as a head coach.

Kentucky and Georgia met earlier this season on Jan. 15 in Memorial Coliseum with the Wildcats earning an 82-61 victory. UK jumped on the Bulldogs from the start, outscoring UGA 23-4 in the first quarter and 21-10 in the second quarter to have a 44-14 lead at halftime. The Bulldogs won both the third and fourth quarters, but UK held on for a 21-point lead. Akhator had a big game for the Wildcats, scoring 24 points with 16 rebounds, going 10-of-15 from the field. Murray had 14 points and Epps added 13, while Makenzie Cann went 3-of-7 from 3 with 11 points.

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