Epps Earns Family Bragging Rights with Triple-Double
Makayla Epps always had the kind of do-it-all skillset that made her a triple-double candidate every time out.
But through two seasons and a game of her third, the single-game statistical landmark escaped her.
Not on Wednesday night.
“I knew that my assists were probably more on the higher side, but with the rebounding I didn’t know where I was at with that,” Epps said. “That’s not something I try to worry about, is my stats when I’m in the flow of the game. But that’s crazy. That’s my first one ever in my career."
Even though she wasn’t aware of it during the game, Epps didn’t waste any time tallying the second triple-double in school history against Morehead State, reaching the plateau before the buzzer even sounded on the third period. She finished with 21 points, 12 assists and 11 rebounds in UK’s 112-57 victory.
That gives her bragging rights over her father, Anthony Epps, who played for the men's team at UK in the 1990s.
“I didn’t know, but that’s crazy,” Epps said. “Because now I got one up on my dad.”
Even though UK moved to 3-0 with the win, the game was only Epps’ second of the season after she served a suspension in the Wildcats’ season opener. The junior, however, bounced back and led UK to a road win over No. 15 Arizona State with a dominant fourth period and overtime on Sunday. That was only a prelude to her historic night.
It’s safe to say she’s thriving in her return, in spite of sustaining a concussion in the preseason. Epps had her career high in assists by the end of the first period, tallying eight, making up for shooting 2 of 9 in the first half. In doing so, she set the tone for a UK team that piled up 32 assists on 43 made baskets.
“The first half, I noticed my shots weren’t falling,” Epps said. “You gotta get yourself going in other ways.”
She certainly did, and her shot rounded into form eventually. Epps made 6-of-12 attempts after halftime in playing every second of UK’s win.
“I thought that it was important for her tonight to prove to herself how much her conditioning has improved,” Mitchell said. “She went all 40 minutes and she needed to do that.”
It wasn’t Mitchell’s plan to play Epps all 40 minutes, but Kyvin Goodin-Rogers’ concussion on Sunday and Maci Morris’ foul trouble on Tuesday forced his hand. The result ended up being a positive for UK's long-term prospects.
“Makayla was the person that needed to carry the heavy load tonight because she can,” Mitchell said. “She’s in fantastic shape. She’s a smart basketball player and she can do it. We may need her to do it again.”
Who knows, maybe Epps will turn in another triple-double too. But as good as she was against Morehead State, Mitchell says Epps’ ceiling is even higher.
“She can play better though. She’ll continue to get better and better.”