Makayla Epps really struggled to hit a free throw in Kentucky’s season opener last week.
The senior guard, a career 70-percent shooter from there, was baffled by shots that clanged off every part of the rim, shots that went in the net and popped back out.
“It’s so crazy to me, it really blows my mind,” she said of her free-throw shooting after the victory over Miami (Fla.).
“I put a lot of work in after practice and during practice,” she continued. “Then I shoot them during the game, and they are rimming out, and I am literally up there losing my mind. Like what is going on? You’ve done this a million times.”
Epps talked about getting fouled a lot and wanting to shoot free throws at an elite level this season.
But then she revealed the other reason for her need to shoot free throws at a higher percentage: “My dad shot 80 (percent), so I have to beat him,” she said of her father, Anthony Epps, who played at UK from 1994 to 1998 and was the starting point guard for the 1996 national championship team.
This comment begged the question: Do you know every stat from your dad’s career and are you trying to beat them?
“I don’t,” the younger Epps laughed, “but I’ll be honest, I look them up often.”
She knows that Anthony Epps had 881 career points and she already has more than 1,000.
“I’ve got him,” she laughed. “When he comes around, I’m like, ‘I got you,’ but he always holds that NCAA championship over me. But I’ve still got one more year.”
For anyone else keeping score at home, Makayla Epps has 1,244 career points with her entire senior season to play.
She is just 17 minutes away from topping her father’s career minutes played (2,807).
Her field-goal percentage (46.1) is far better than his 41.1, but he was a much better three-point shooter at 39.6 percent over his four-year career compared to her 29.2 percent.
Makayla Epps will graduate with far more rebounds, already winning that statistical category 362-329, and she also owns one of UK’s rare triple-doubles for men or women.
Anthony Epps has 84 more steals, and Makayla is still 243 assists from catching her dad.
Bright and early
As part of its annual Winning Tools Education Day, the No. 15 Cats (2-0) will tip off against New Hampshire (1-1) at 11 a.m. on Thursday.
Memorial Coliseum will be packed with elementary, middle and high school students for the event, which is geared toward getting younger kids on Kentucky’s campus.
“It is always fun,” UK Coach Matthew Mitchell said on Wednesday. “The kids are fired up and have a lot of fun that day.”
There also will be special giveaways for older “kids,” including a chance to win a $30,000 Ford Mustang from Paul Miller Ford and a custom UK Yeti cooler. Students who present a valid student ID at the Euclid Avenue entrance will receive a numbered ticket for the promotion.
Also, UK Athletics is providing free lunch from Raising Cane’s during halftime of the game for UK faculty and staff in attendance. The lunch will be served in the Rose Street lobby of the coliseum. Staff and faculty get free admission with a UK ID.
New Hampshire at No. 15 Kentucky
11 a.m. (WLAP-AM 630, online via SEC Plus)
Epps vs. Epps
Career FG percent
Career 3pt percent
Career FT percent
New Hampshire (1-1)
Probable starters: Peyton Booth, G, Jr. (2.0 pts, 3.0 rebs); Aliza Simpson, G, Jr. (8.5 pts, 6.0 rebs); Brittni Lai, G, Jr. (10.5 pts, 3.5 asts); Kat Fogarty, F, Jr. (8.0 pts, 4.0 rebs); Carlie Pogue, C, Jr. (14.5 pts, 9.5 rebs)
Key reserves: Ashley Story, F/C, So. (4.0 pts, 7.5 rebs); Sam Sabino, G, So. (4.0 pts, 5.0 rebs); Caroline Soucy, G, Fr. (2.5 pts, 2.0 rebs); Morgan Bassett-Smith, C, Jr. (2.5 pts, 3.5 rebs); Emily Peters, G, So. (3.0 rebs)
Probable starters: Maci Morris, G, So. (9.5 pts, 3.0 rebs); Evelyn Akhator, F, Sr. (23.0 pts, 11.5 rebs, 3 blks); Taylor Murray, G, So. (6.0 pts, 3.5 rebs); Makayla Epps, G, Sr. (18.5 pts, 5.5 asts); Alyssa Rice, C, Jr. (6.0 pts, 5.0 rebs)
Key reserves: Makenzie Cann, G, Jr. (7.5 pts, 5.5 rebs); Jessica Hardin, G, Sr. (5.5 pts, 4.0 rebs); Jaida Roper, PG, Fr. (0.0 pts, 0.0 rebs)