Video slideshow: UK women’s basketball team defeats Morehead State
It was a breakfast fit for a shooter.
For the early tip time on Wednesday against Morehead State, Kentucky’s Maci Morris loaded up on oatmeal, biscuits and gravy and bacon.
Then the senior proceeded to score 31 points — including 19 points in an explosive second quarter — to help No. 25 Kentucky remain unbeaten with an 87-57 victory over the Eagles at Memorial Coliseum.
“Biscuits and gravy probably had something to do with it,” smiled Morris, one of four Cats in double figures as UK beat Morehead State for a 14th straight season.
Kentucky’s senior leader needed all the carbs that biscuits could offer playing in her fourth game in seven days, including a recent Paradise Jam Tournament that included three games in as many days.
“I was joking to my teammates that I didn’t know how any of my shots were going in because my legs were so dead,” said Morris, who also had four rebounds, four assists and three steals in her 25 minutes on the floor.
Getting off the floor was another matter altogether.
In the second half of the decisive victory, in which UK led by as many as 39 points, Morris found herself walking toward the Cats’ bench. “I couldn’t even jog over there,” she said.
If there was a lack of energy late, Kentucky (8-0) made up for it early by running out to an 18-5 lead that grew from there. As Kentucky’s lead continued to build, the Eagles went six minutes without a field goal and trailed 44-23.
“So many reasons to make up so many excuses for lacking energy and I thought we came out with tremendous energy,” Coach Matthew Mitchell said. “Really, really proud of players’ effort today and good win for us.”
The Cats closed out the first half with a 12-2 advantage including eight straight points.
For dramatic effect, Taylor Murray found an open Morris in the closing seconds of the half and she drained a three-pointer to score her 19th point of the second quarter and 25th point of the first half to put UK up 52-23.
Morris’ 25 points were the most scored by a UK player in a first half since at least 1982-83. Valerie Still scored 24 points in the first half against Ohio State on Dec. 2, 1982.
It’s been part of an impressive shooting spree for Morris, who had some incredible makes from long range as the Cats closed out the Paradise Jam last week in the Virgin Islands.
Several of the senior guard’s shots were so on target that the net “didn’t even move,” Mitchell said of Morris, who is making 41.5 percent from three-point range. “Just perfect shots, so she’s shooting the ball great right now.”
Kentucky made 61 percent of its shots in the first half, including seven of 11 three-pointers. The Eagles shot just 29 percent in the first half, including making just two of 12 tries in the second quarter.
The Cats cooled in the second half a bit, but still managed to hit 46 percent for the game.
Freshman Rhyne Howard added 17 points and 10 rebounds. Jaida Roper had 14 points and four rebounds while Murray pitched in 13 points and six assists.
Morehead State (6-2) entered the game as the nation’s third-most potent offense, averaging 94.7 points per game while hitting 51.8 percent from the field.
But the Eagles struggled against the faster, more athletic UK players, finishing with season lows in both points and shooting percentage (35.9). They turned the ball over 25 times against UK pressure, giving the Cats 38 points.
Alliyah Juene led Morehead State with 15 points. Miranda Crockett added 13 points and seven rebounds.
Rhode Island at No. 25 Kentucky
When: Dec. 6, at 7 or 9 p.m.
TV: SEC Network Plus (online only)