The roar of thousands of Louisville fans was no match for Taylor Murray’s foot.
Kentucky’s soft-spoken point guard tried over and over again to get a teammate’s attention to huddle during a break in the action, but Makayla Epps couldn’t hear Murray over the crowd.
So Murray repeatedly stomped her foot to get the senior’s attention, gesturing with her arms until Epps joined her UK teammates.
There were a lot of disappointing things on the video of Kentucky’s overtime loss to the Cardinals, but seeing Murray’s attention-grabbing move was not one of them.
“She was just fantastic in her growth and leadership,” Coach Matthew Mitchell said of the 5-foot-6 guard from Odenton, Md.
“She was calming the team down. She got demonstrative one time, stomping her feet, saying, ‘Get in here.’ Those things are not easy for her, so I really admire how hard she’s working for her team, trying to be a good leader, trying to be a point guard.”
A couple of weeks ago, Mitchell charged Murray with leading the team on defense and getting them in the huddle quickly to discuss UK’s multiple defenses, something new this season.
That added responsibility has helped grow her game overall, Murray said.
“Just gaining confidence in my shot and being able to be a leader for my teammates and being vocal, doing things that Coach Mitchell asks,” Murray said of her recent statistical surge.
What Murray hasn’t said, she’s shown with her play in the past five games, averaging 15.4 points and six rebounds, including a career-best 21 points against Louisville.
She started the season quietly, averaging just six points and 3.3 rebounds in the first three games.
Murray will be important Friday night when No. 15 Kentucky (6-2) tries to bounce back from an overtime loss at Louisville against Middle Tennessee State (2-3) at Memorial Coliseum.
The Raiders run a similar pressure-packed, man-to-man defense that caused UK some troubles at Louisville.
Mitchell hopes Middle Tennessee makes the same mistake other opponents have made this season, trying to limit touches for Epps, who leads the Southeastern Conference in scoring at 19.4 points, 5.3 assists and 4.4 rebounds, and fellow guard Maci Morris, an offensive threat.
It’s left Murray open. And she’s made the most of her opportunities.
“They’ll be making a mistake,” he said of opponents who sag off of Murray, who is hitting 50 percent of her shots. “She’s really shooting the ball well, scoring the ball well. … She needs to view herself as a top-level guard and just continue to work hard.”
Mitchell sees her as one of the elite point guards in the SEC and thinks she will convince others by the end of the season.
Maybe she won’t do it with her voice, though.
“I don’t do a lot of talking, but I’m getting there,” Murray said. “It’s getting there. … Me being able to let teammates know where they need to go when he’s screaming from the sideline, just being more vocal.”
And if that doesn’t work, she’ll be stomping her feet loudly for the rest of the season.
Middle Tennessee at No. 15 Kentucky
When: 7 p.m.
Radio: WLAP-AM 630
Live video broadcast: WatchESPN.com (online only)
Records: Middle Tennessee 2-3, Kentucky 6-2
Series: Kentucky leads 14-4 and has won the past four meetings.
Last meeting: Kentucky won 68-52 on Dec. 13, 2015, in Murfreesboro, Tenn.