When Matthew Mitchell’s team had a rough January and dropped 4 games, it seemed as though many fans wrote off the team. How could the Cats claw their way back into the top of the SEC standings when the competition is so brutal?
But coming into Sunday’s game against the LSU Tigers, the Cats found themselves in 4th place in the SEC after putting together a 5-game winning streak, three of which were on the road. And 1 was a huge victory of South Carolina, getting a road win against the Gamecocks for the first time since 2012. Maintaining that position in the conference standings is critical as that could give Kentucky 1st and 2nd round BYEs.
Keeping the streak alive on Senior Day could have added pressure to the Cats. There is always an abundance of emotion tied to this day, but other than being a little “too amped” in the opening minutes, the Cats took control fairly soon. UK then took a 6-point lead at the end of one quarter and expanded it to 13-point halftime advantage, 28-15. Senior Taylor Murray led all scorers with 10 points while Maci Morris was held to a single field goal and 2 points.
LSU made things interesting in the 3rd quarter, twice cutting the lead to single-digits. Ayana Mitchell had 8 points for the Tigers in the 3rd, but the Cats countered with Morris (6 points) and Tatyana Wyatt (7 points) and held a 13-point cushion as the teams began the final quarter.
The final quarter was not a thing of beauty and for a while, it appeared as though the women would suffer the same painful fate the men had dealt with less than 2 weeks ago. LSU suddenly played with confidence and Mitchell’s team was tentative and ineffective. The Cats scored their final field goal by Ogechi Anyagaligbo to go up 50-34 with 8:14 remaining in the game. And though LSU outscored the Cats in the 4th 20-12, it wasn’t enough to secure the upset.
When LSU had closed the gap to 2 points in the final minute. Taylor Murray absolutely imposed her will on the game, making key free throws and then getting a crucial steal with 11 seconds remaining. With a final score of 57-52, the Cats extended their winning streak to 6 games.
Though Kentucky has one more home game remaining (Thursday night versus Texas A&M), Coach Mitchell said the decision was made to hold Senior Day on a Sunday to allow as many fans as possible to attend. With 6,911 in attendance Sunday it appeared to be the correct decision.
Those honored today were:
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