UK Women's Basketball

Kentucky women’s basketball avenges loss to Auburn, 54-47

Kentucky women defeat Auburn: Keys to the victory

Three keys to the game stood out from Sunday's 54-47 Kentucky basketball win over Auburn in Memorial Coliseum.
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Three keys to the game stood out from Sunday's 54-47 Kentucky basketball win over Auburn in Memorial Coliseum.

Perhaps Kentucky fans should start sending Sonya Murray some residential listings in the Lexington area.

With her mom in Memorial Coliseum on Sunday, Taylor Murray had career highs in points and steals and helped lead the No. 9 Cats to a 54-47 victory over Auburn.

“She has next-level speed that is unlike most people on the floor,” UK Coach Matthew Mitchell said of the freshman guard. “That’s a great weapon for us.

“Six steals was just so huge in a game like that where possessions were so precious and not a lot of points were being scored.”

Kentucky needed every of Murray’s 14 points and six steals in the win, which helped the Cats avenge a loss at Auburn two weeks ago that ended an 11-game win streak.

She has next-level speed that isunlike most peopleon the floor.

UK Coach Matthew Mitchell on freshman Taylor Murray

And much like that loss at Auburn on Jan. 3, the game was a chunky, clunky mess.

If ugly was art, Memorial Coliseum was The Louvre on Sunday with both teams combining for 40 turnovers, going though long spurts without scoring and regular scrums for loose balls.

After holding UK to a season-low 61 points two weeks ago, Auburn held the Cats to just 54 points this time around.

Sunday’s game also had similar themes with Kentucky grabbing a seemingly safe 47-37 lead midway through the fourth quarter before Auburn blazed back, scoring eight straight to cut the Cats’ lead to two with two minutes to go.

That’s when Murray hit a three-pointer a few seconds later to give the Cats (14-2, 3-2 SEC) the lift they needed to pull away with 1:40 to play.

“I was just there to help my teammates in any way, shape or form,” said Murray, who made five of eight shot attempts. “I was just being there whenever they needed me, I guess. If they needed me to dribble and pass it out, or take open shots, I was just there.”

It was a big switch from the game at Auburn when the freshman guard struggled, making one of six shot attempts. Most of those shots were from close range because of her steals.

I was just there to help my teammates in any way, shape or form.

Taylor Murray

“They’re live ball turnovers where she runs down and lays it up,” Auburn Coach Terry Williams-Flournoy said. “She’s quick enough to do that.

“Once again, it goes back to those 21 turnovers in order for us to win a tough game at Kentucky. You can’t turn the ball over 21 times.”

The difference in the game was Kentucky found ways to win despite the ugliness, which Mitchell called progress.

“We were able to go into halftime, make an adjustment,” the head coach said of UK’s offensive growth from the first half, when they shot just 30.4 percent. “They took to it; they saw some results. Today’s a day of growth. As ugly as it was and as bad as the numbers look and all that stuff, it’s a win.”

The adjustments helped free up Makayla Epps, who scored 11 of her 13 points in the second half, including a layup and made free throw that gave Kentucky that 10-point lead with 5:38 to go.

“On a day that was really, really ugly basketball game — it was not a thing of beauty — she just played real hard and found a way to help her team win,” Mitchell said of Epps, who also had five rebounds. “Real proud of that performance.”

Junior Evelyn Akhator notched her seventh double-double of the season with 12 points and 10 rebounds. The forward also helped limit Auburn’s Tra’Cee Tanner to six points after the forward scored 17 against the Cats last go-around.

Akhator also had a key assist on that three-pointer by Murray late in the game.

Her teammates were just happy to see Murray step up and make big plays against Auburn (12-6, 2-3).

“She played really big and I don’t know if it was (her) mom, or just that she stepped up big for us when other people were lacking in other areas,” Epps said. “I’m very grateful that she did. She played a great basketball game.”

The Tigers, led by Brandy Montgomery’s 15 points, were held to 47 points, their second-fewest of the season and 20 points fewer than their season average.

No. 9 KENTUCKY 54, AUBURN 47

AUBURN

Min

FG-A

FT-A

R

A

F

PT

Montgomery

32

6-14

2-2

4

3

2

15

Frerking

29

3-9

0-0

5

4

1

8

Ja Jones

21

1-3

0-0

2

1

5

2

Dieng

12

0-2

0-0

2

1

4

0

Tanner

21

2-5

2-2

4

2

4

6

Sanders

19

1-3

0-0

2

0

3

2

Garvin

13

1-5

0-0

3

1

0

2

Je Jones

14

1-1

0-0

4

0

0

2

McKay

30

3-10

0-0

2

0

1

8

Capers

9

1-2

0-0

2

0

0

2

Totals

200

19-54

4-4

33

12

20

47

Percentages: FG .352, FT 1.000. Three-point goals: 5-24, .208 (McKay 2-6, Frerking 2-7, Montgomery 1-7, Sanders 0-1, Dieng 0-1, Garvin 0-2). Team rebounds: 3. Blocked shots: 3 (Dieng 2, Je. Jones). Turnovers: 21 (McKay 5, Tanner 4, Frerking 4, Montgomery 3, Dieng 3, Garvin, Ja. Jones). Steals: 8 (Ja. Jones 3, Montgomery 2, Tanner, Dieng, Capers). Technical fouls: None.

KENTUCKY

Min

FG-A

FT-A

R

A

F

PT

Thompson

31

1-6

3-4

3

4

1

5

Morris

17

0-6

0-0

0

0

2

0

Akhator

37

4-10

4-4

10

1

1

12

Epps

39

5-11

2-5

6

2

0

13

Jennings

22

1-3

2-2

2

0

4

4

Camara

23

1-3

4-8

6

1

1

6

Murray

29

5-8

2-2

2

1

2

14

Rice

2

0-0

0-0

0

0

0

0

Totals

200

17-47

17-25

32

9

11

54

Percentages: FG .362, FT .680. Three-point goals: 3-17, .176 (Murray 2-2, Epps 1-7, Thompson 0-3, Morris 0-5). Team rebounds: 3. Blocked shots: 4 (Jennings 3, Thompson). Turnovers: 19 (Thompson 7, Morris 3, Jennings 3, Murray 2, Akhator, Epps, Rice). Steals: 10 (Murray 6, Epps, Akhator, Thompson, Jennings). Technical fouls: None.

Auburn

10

12

10

15

47

Kentucky

11

10

17

16

54

A—6,171. Officials—Mark Zentz, Felicia Grinter, Meadow Overstreet.

Next game

Kentucky at Mississippi

9 p.m. Thursday (SEC Network)

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