Murray Comes up Clutch with Her Mom in Town

Kentucky has played some pretty games this season, showing an improved and dynamic offense in the process.

No team, however, is going to paint a masterpiece every time out. The important thing is still finding a way to win when things get ugly.

That’s what the Wildcats did on Sunday.

“We’re thrilled with the victory,” UK head coach Matthew Mitchell said. “Auburn’s a very, very tough team and they are well coached and they play very hard and they can really confuse you on defense.”

Facing Auburn, the No. 9 Cats (14-2, 3-2 Southeastern Conference) overcame poor shooting and the Tiger press to win a back-and-forth affair, 54-47. Leading the way was a true freshman who struggled in a similarly ugly game against Auburn (12-6, 2-3 SEC) just two weeks prior, a game UK lost. Taylor Murray managed only three points and had five turnovers in that defeat to the Tigers, but she had a much different day this time around.

“I felt like I was just there to help my team in any way, shape or form,” Murray said. “I was just being there whenever they needed me. I guess they needed me to dribble and pass it out or take open shots I would just do it. And mainly with just defense for me, just getting stops for my teammates so we could score on offense.”

In spite of being the least experienced among UK’s point-guard trio, Murray was most effective against Auburn’s confounding full-court pressure and half-court zone. She finished with 14 points and a career-high six steals, numbers Makayla Epps attributes in part to a special person in Memorial Coliseum who made the trip from Murray’s native Odenton, Md.

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

Murray doesn’t believe her mother being in attendance was the reason she played so well, but she was certainly glad to have her there.

“I was just trying to play basketball and be there for my teammates,” Murray said. “My mom can only come once in a while since we live really far. So it was just good for her to be in this atmosphere and I was just giving it (my) all.”

Murray saved her biggest plays for the biggest moments. She made two 3s on the day, one at the end of the first half and the other in the final moments of the fourth quarter. On both occasions, Murray’s 3s ended 8-0 Auburn runs.

“Extremely clutch,” Epps said.

And fortunately, her mother got to see Murray do it in person.

“Need Miss Sonya to move down here, it looks like,” Mitchell said. “It was great to have her in the gym today because Taylor really did a good job.”