After arguably its best defensive performance of the season Sunday against Radford — the Cats limited the Highlanders to 36 points on 26.4 percent shooting — the No. 18 University of Kentucky women’s basketball team (8-3) will take on Washington State (5-5) at noon Wednesday in Memorial Coliseum.
The Cougars’ offense could be missing its top two scorers, who are both considered day-to-day and are not on the team’s list of probable starters. Borislava Hristova, who is 10th in the Pac-10 in scoring at 14.7 points per game, missed the team’s last game (vs. Saint Louis) and most of the one before that (Gonzaga). Both were losses.
Louise Brown, second on the team in scoring at 10.4 per game and first in rebounding at 6.9, has missed the last three games.
Kentucky Coach Matthew Mitchell expects a tough game from the Cougars.
“Washington State’s extremely talented,” he said. “They play awfully hard, well coached. They played a tough schedule, so they’re battle tested and ready to go. They have great size. They have great perimeter shooting. Made 13 threes in their last game, so they’re capable behind the three-point stripe.”
Wednesday’s early tip will be Dollar Day in Memorial Coliseum. General admission tickets are $1.
Kentucky is led in scoring by Makayla Epps at 17.7 points per game. The senior guard has a team-best 48 assists and 15 steals, too.
Evelyn Akhator, another senior, is averaging a double-double for UK with 13.8 points and 10.2 rebounds per game.
Two other Wildcats are averaging double figures — sophomores Maci Morris and Taylor Murray.
Morris, who leads the Cats in three-point shooting at 36 percent, is averaging 12.0 points and 3.2 rebounds.
Murray, who missed Kentucky’s game against Radford with an injury and will also sit out Wednesday’s game, is averaging 12.7 points, 5.1 rebounds and 2.4 assists.
Mitchell said he’s not sure if Murray, who has a broken finger, will be ready to return right after the Cats’ winter break.
“It just depends on how the bone heals,” he said. “It’s looking really good and our doctors are optimistic. You just don’t know. We won’t rush that or rush her back. …We’re hopeful she’ll be back after Christmas but we’ll see.”
Washington State at No. 18 Kentucky
Records: WSU 5-5; UK 8-3
Series: UK leads 1-0
Last meeting: UK won 80-51 in Lexington on Nov. 10, 2006
Online: SEC Plus
Radio: WLAP-AM 630
Probable starters: Caila Hailey, 5-10, G, Jr. (6.9 pts, 5.1 rebs); Chanelle Molina, 5-9, G, Fr. (9.7 pts, 3.5 asts); Ivana Kmetovksa, 6-3, F, Sr. (7.3 pts, 3.8 rebs); Maria Kostourkova, 6-4, C, So. (4.3 pts, 1.7 blks); Alexys Swedlund, 5-11, G, So. (8.6 pts, 3.9 rebs)
Key reserves: Louise Brown, 6-2, F, Jr. (10.4 pts, 6.9 rebs); Kayla Washington, 6-0, G, Fr. (5.1 pts, 4.1 rebs); Cameron Fernandez, 5-10, G, Fr. (6.5 pts); Borislava Hristova, 6-0, F, So. (14.7 pts, 3.3 rebs)
Probable starters: Maci Morris, 6-0, G, So. (12.0 pts, 3.2 rebs, 2.0 asts); Evelyn Akhator, 6-3, F, Sr. (13.8 pts, 10.2 rebs, 1.0 blks); Jaida Roper, 5-6, PG, Fr. (1.7 pts, 1.5 asts); Makayla Epps, 5-10, G, Sr. (17.7 pts, 4.5 rebs, 4.4 asts); Alyssa Rice, 6-3, C, Jr. (4.1 pts, 5.3 rebs)
Key reserves: Makenzie Cann, 6-1, G, Jr. (8.6 pts, 4.0 rebs); Jessica Hardin, 5-8, G, Sr. (3.6 pts, 1.7 rebs); Paige Poffenberger, 5-8, G, Fr. (1.0 pts, 1.8 rebs)