Kentucky ended its final road trip of the regular season with some positive memories, topping Ole Miss 79-71 on Thursday night.
Maci Morris had her fifth straight game with 20 or more points and was one of three Cats in double figures in the win at The Pavillion. The junior guard also had three steals.
UK pulled away early with an 18-2 run midway through the first half and then had to battle through cold shooting and a late Ole Miss run to earn the victory.
“Ole Miss is so aggressive and tough,” Coach Matthew Mitchell said on the UK Radio Network broadcast after the game. “We were able to really keep our poise. The ability in the first half to build that lead was to turn those turnovers into points.”
Never miss a local story.
Freshman forward Dorie Harrison had 13 points and four rebounds for UK and Taylor Murray added 12 points and 10 assists.
The Cats scored 22 points off Ole Miss turnovers, with much of that defensive intensity coming from UK’s players off the bench.
“Our second unit really came in and gave us some energy defensively,” Mitchell said, specifically mentioning the boost UK got from transition baskets of Harrison and Tatyana Wyatt, who had eight points.
Kentucky made its first four shots of the game, including three three-pointers, to grab an 11-5 edge before Ole Miss scored seven straight to as part of a 12-2 run to go up 18-13 early.
That’s when UK went on its own 18-2 spree to go up 31-20 early in the second quarter, with five different players putting up points in that span.
Shooting 81.8 percent of its shots in the second quarter, UK grabbed a 44-31 lead at the half on two free throws from Harrison, who had eight points at the break along with Murray.
Morris led the Cats, who shot 63 percent from the field in the first half, with 13 points in the first half.
The Cats (14-15, 6-9 Southeastern Conference) struggled a bit in the third quarter, going nearly five minutes without a field goal and allowing the Rebels to pull back within nine points.
“It was ugly there for a while, but we were able to put it away,” said Mitchell, whose team has secured a No. 9 seed or better in the SEC Tournament next week in Nashville.
Ole Miss trailed by 10 points heading into the final quarter and neither team was able to get going much offensively. The Rebels were able to cut the lead to eight in the final three minutes, but that was as close as they would get.
Madinah Muhammad led Ole Miss (11-17, 1-14) with 21 points, including five three-pointers. Shelby Gibson added 14 points.
Makenzie Cann had nine points and seven rebounds for Kentucky, which shot 47.4 percent from the field and has won eight of the last 10 over the Rebels. KeKe McKinney added nine points and six boards.
The Cats’ final regular-season game will be played against unbeaten, second-ranked Mississippi State on Sunday as part of Senior Day. UK will honor forward Alyssa Rice and guard Jessica Hardin before the game at Memorial Coliseum.
No. 2 Mississippi State at Kentucky
Noon Sunday (ESPNU)