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Video: Coach Cal on UK's matchup with South Carolina

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Makayla Epps scored 42 points, including the buzzer beater, in UK's 92-90 win over Mississippi State in double overtime. (Britney Howard, UK Athletics) Makayla Epps scored 42 points, including the buzzer beater, in UK's 92-90 win over Mississippi State in double overtime. (Britney Howard, UK Athletics)
From the final play to the whole 50-minute game to her 42-point performance in it, Makayla Epps didn't need to say much more to describe what had just happened.

"Crazy," Epps said. "Complete craziness."

Epps, however, was talking only about the final possession that led to the buzzer-beating shot she used to send No. 10 Kentucky (19-5, 8-3 Southeastern Conference) to a thrilling 92-90 double-overtime win over No. 13/15 Mississippi State (23-4, 8-4 SEC).

The play started when the Wildcats took possession following a Breanna Richardson basket with 35 seconds left. Matthew Mitchell didn't call timeout, instead opting to tell Epps to run the clock down and attack as the shot clock neared zero.

"I just thought it was kind of silly to have it in anybody else's hands but hers there at the end, no matter if four were guarding her," Mitchell said.

Epps would get a good first look, but missed a short jumper. Somehow, Jelleah Sidney came away with the offensive rebound in a mad scrum as the clock reached five seconds remaining.

"I feel like all 12 of my teammates crashed the glass on that one," Epps said.

"I can't wait to watch it again," Mitchell said. "It was a really incredible play."

From there, Sidney could do little else but fire the ball back into the fray.

"Jelleah Sidney, sometimes she has the tendency to throw the ball really hard at us," Epps said. "And she threw it really hard and it was bouncing off faces and noses and ears. And then I looked up and it was right there. 'Go get it, Epps!' "

Epps got it, and put the ball on the glass and through the basket with 0.6 seconds on the clock.

"And then Epps, we'd missed so many, and that one was as tough as any one that you'll ever shoot and we make that one," Mitchell said. "So go figure. Who knows? I can't figure all this stuff out. I don't know how we're winning all these games."

Epps has a lot to do with it, especially on this night.

Her buzzer beater brought her career high in scoring to 42 points, just one point shy of the school-record 43 Jennifer O'Neill scored in five overtimes against Baylor last season. She made 18-of-30 field goals and added six rebounds and five assists for good measure to outduel Bulldog star Victoria Vivians, who had 39 points of her own.

"Especially at the level we're at in the SEC, that's not common," Epps said. "That's not something you see every month or every week or (anything) like that."

With Epps leading the way - including scoring UK's final eight points in double overtime - the Cats weathered multiple furious Mississippi State rallies. Kentucky built and lost double-digit leads on four different occasions and the Bulldogs tied the game in the final seconds of regulation on a basket by Moran William.

"I was glad she scored 42 and not 39," Mitchell said. "We needed those extra three points that she had. So that was incredible. We didn't look like we could win any other way tonight."

Epps is now seven games into her run as UK's full-time point guard in place of the injured Janee Thompson. She's now averaging 21 points in those games and the Cats have won five of them, two against ranked opponents.

"I'm hoping that after every game she's proud of me and that she's happy I'm out here handling my business as she would if she was out there with us," Epps said. "At the end of the day, it's all for Janee. Regardless if I'm playing, Bria's (Goss) playing good, the team's playing good, in the back of our minds we're all thinking about Janee."


Epps' point-guard evolution underway

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Makayla Epps stepped into a full-time role as Kentucky's point guard in mid-January.

At the time - as Epps replaced injured junior Janee Thompson - Matthew Mitchell said she could develop into one of the best point guards in the Southeastern Conference.

Almost exactly a month later, that's exactly what's happened.

"I think Epps is really, really good," Mitchell said. "And so when you have a point guard that's near the top of the league, that helps everybody. That helps everybody, especially a scoring point guard."

In six games since Thompson went down, Epps is averaging 17.5 points , 4.7 rebounds and three assists. She has led No. 10 UK (18-5, 7-3 SEC) to wins in four of the games, including an 82-68 win over Vanderbilt on Sunday in which she posted 18 points.

Entering a tough Thursday matchup with No. 13/15 Mississippi State (23-3, 8-3 SEC), Epps is getting better by the day.

"I think when you're a player like Makayla, it's just constant attention to detail, which will lead to continuous improvement," Mitchell said.

For Epps, the little things go well beyond the physical. The sophomore who has played four positions is figuring out the intricacies that accompany the role she's settled into.

"Makayla Epps is starting to go and grab people off the floor and get people in the huddle like a point guard needs to," Mitchell said. "And I really complimented her on that yesterday."

Epps earned praise again from Mitchell during a defensive drill in practice on Tuesday. He said she was "working as hard as a human being could work.

"If she'll do that, it'll be hard to find a better player than her around because she can do everything that you need her to do to be a good player offensively and defensively," Mitchell said.

Mitchell, however, doesn't want Epps to settle for merely being good. He believes she has too much natural talent for that.

"She's one of these players that when she has her mind right and mindset doing the little things, she's a fantastic player," Mitchell said. "So once you get to that point, you just have to learn the mental discipline to keep striving for your best. And that's what, to me, what separates the good ones from the great ones."

No matter what she does, Mitchell sees a bright future for Epps in both the short and long term. If she accepts the challenge to make the small changes she's starting to make permanent, the sky is the limit.

"Let's just say if she just incrementally better just from being here and through experience, it'd be hard to find a lot better player than her," Mitchell said. "She'll be fine and she can help us win some games. But if she'll really do what we're asking her to do, she'll be a 10-year pro and be one of the best players that's ever played here."

Video: Coach Cal's post-LSU press conference

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Video: Towns, Cauley-Stein on UK's win at LSU

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Video: Highlights from UK's 71-69 win at LSU

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