No. 20 Kentucky Starts Home Stand Wednesday vs. Morehead State
LEXINGTON, Ky. – Looking to get back to its winning ways after its first loss of the season last weekend at Colorado, the No. 20 University of Kentucky women’s basketball team will begin a three-game home stretch Wednesday when it plays host to in-state foe Morehead State at 7 p.m. ET inside Memorial Coliseum for the annual Terry Hall Memorial Classic.
“Well, it is good to be back in Lexington,” UK head coach Matthew Mitchell said. “It was a tough trip out to Colorado. I thought the team really learned a lot from that game. So it was good to get back and we had some good work yesterday and we will have to work hard today and tomorrow to get prepared for a Morehead State team that is off to a very good start. They are very well coached and can really spread you out and drive the ball, which we struggled with early in the season. So we have a lot of work to do between now and tomorrow night to get ready for a good Morehead State team.”
Morehead State at #20 Kentucky
Season tickets are $65 and still available in upper level chairbacks, lower level bleachers and general admission upper level bleachers. Single-game tickets for all Kentucky home games are available through the UK Ticket Office and through ticketmaster.com. Single-game tickets are $9 for reserved seating (all ages), $8 for general admission seating (adults) and $5 for general admission seating (youth 6-18/seniors 65+). General admission seating is free for ages five and under.
The game will be broadcast live on the SEC Network+ with Jeff Piecoro on play-by-play and Christi Thomas as the analyst. The game can be seen through WatchESPN on computers, smartphones or tablets. Now in his 12th season, Neil Price will have the call on the UK Sports Network. Fans in Lexington can hear Price’s call of the game on WLAP 630AM. Live stats and free audio will be available online at ukathletics.com.
Wednesday’s game will be the annual Terry Hall Memorial Classic, which was introduced during the 2011-12 season. Terry Hall held the distinction of the winningest head coach in UK program history before being passed by Matthew Mitchell.
Hall coached the Cats to seven consecutive winning seasons from 1980-87, charting a 138-66 overall record (67.7%). At the end of her tenure, she owned the most wins and the best winning percentage of any coach to guide the program. Hall started with a 25-6 record in 1980-81 and a trip to the second round of the AIAW national tournament before falling by one point to Maryland. The NCAA welcomed women's basketball into its ranks the following year, and that historical season ended with the Cats falling to eventual national champion Louisiana Tech in the Midwest Regional finals on the Lady Techsters' home floor. After the Cats failed to make the NCAA tournament in 1986-87, Hall left coaching for the business sector. But three years later, she accepted the head coaching job at Wright State University, where she coached for seven years before succumbing to cancer in 1997.
Kentucky, which fell to No. 20 in the latest Associated Press Top 25 this week, has started its season with a 3-1 record. UK suffered its first loss of the season last weekend against Colorado, falling 79-69 in Boulder. The Wildcats are 3-0 at home this season with wins over highly ranked Miami (Fla.), Albany and New Hampshire. Wednesday’s game against Morehead State begins a three-game home stand for Kentucky, who will face Samford on Sunday at 2 p.m. ET and No. 13 Oklahoma on Thursday, Dec. 1 at 7 p.m. ET on SEC Network.
In its first four games, Kentucky is averaging 78.2 points per game and allowing just 58.5 points per game. The Wildcats are hitting .464 from the field, including .380 from 3 and .679 from the free-throw line. Opponents are hitting just .337 from the field against UK and just .281 from 3. UK is out-rebounding opponents by four rebounds per game, while averaging 15.8 assists per game.
Senior post Evelyn Akhator leads Kentucky in scoring by averaging 18.8 points per game, adding 12.0 rebounds per game. Akhator has four straight double-doubles to start the season and has five straight double-doubles dating back to last season. Akhator is the first Kentucky player since Eleia Roddy in 2008-09 to record five or more consecutive double-doubles. For her career, Akhator had 17 double-doubles to rank seventh most in program history.
Senior guard Makayla Epps is second on the team in scoring by averaging 16.3 points per game. The native of Lebanon, Ky., leads the team in assists and steals with 20 and eight, respectively. Epps is hitting at a .468 clip from the field this season. For her career, Epps has 1,272 points ranking 18th-most in program history.
Two other Wildcats are averaging double figures this season. Sophomore guard Maci Morris has scored in double figures in three of the team’s four games, averaging 10.8 points per game with seven assists, three blocks and four steals. Junior wing Makenzie Cann is averaging 10.0 points per game with 4.8 rebounds per game. Cann had a career game against New Hampshire, scoring 20 points, hitting 6-of-9 3s.
Morehead State has started its season with a 3-1 record most recently defeating Miami (Ohio) on Saturday, 77-43 in Morehead. The Eagles started the season with a 68-50 loss to Georgia State before back-to-back wins against Eastern Michigan, 78-73, and Alice Lloyd College, 92-42.
In its first four games of the season, Morehead State averaged 74.2 points per game, limiting opponents to just 56.5 points per game. The Eagles are shooting 40.0% from the field this season, including 29.9% from 3. Morehead State is averaging 19.8 assists per game.
Junior forward Eriel McKee leads the team by averaging 13.3 points and 7.7 rebounds per game this season, while sophomore guard Miranda Crockett is averaging 9.8 points and 4.3 rebounds per game with 14 assists. Redshirt senior guard Brianna McQueen has started three games and is averaging 9.7 points and 4.7 rebounds, while senior forward Shay Steele is averaging 9.5 points and 6.3 rebounds per game.
The Eagles are in their third season under Greg Todd, who has served his entire coaching tenure in the Commonwealth of Kentucky, including eight seasons at Transylvania University in Lexington. Morehead State returns their top four scorers from last season who accounted for nearly 1,500 of the team’s points. MSU was one of the best offensive teams in the nation last season, scoring 79.4 points per game to rank 10th nationally in that category.
Wednesday game is the 33rd all-time meeting between Kentucky and Morehead State with the Wildcats holding the all-time lead in the series, 28-4. Kentucky leads the series in games played in Lexington, 18-1, including winning 17 straight home games against the Eagles. Overall, the Wildcats have won 11 straight over the Eagles.
Kentucky and Morehead State met last season inside Memorial Coliseum with the Wildcats earning their largest win in the series, 112-57. Makayla Epps made history as just the second Wildcat to notch a triple-double with 21 points, 11 assists and 12 rebounds. In all, three Kentucky players had double-doubles in the game, which had not happened for UK since 1989.
The Wildcats earned 67 rebounds in the win, which tied the school record for most rebounds in a game, while UK's 32 assists were one shy of the school record of 33. The Wildcats out-rebounded the Eagles 67-42 and had a 70-22 advantage in points in the paint.
For more information on the Kentucky women’s basketball team, visit UKathletics.com or follow @KentuckyWBB on Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat, or Kentucky Women’s Basketball on Facebook.
- New spectator parking options include the High Street Lot ($5 for Friday’s game due to MBB playing at the same time), located at the corner of East High Street and South Martin Luther King Boulevard, and the Alumni Center Lot on Linden Walk, resulting in nearly 200 additional parking spaces.
- Spectator parking is located in all of the E-lots surrounding Memorial Coliseum, all lots are off control 3 hours prior to tip. Additionally, the South Limestone Garage (PS#5) and the Rose Street Garage (PS#2) are available 2 hours prior to tip. See the shuttle map and route information diagram below for all available women’s basketball spectator parking options.
- Parking is prohibited in any R (Residential) lots. Vehicles parking in R lots without a proper permit, along yellow curbs, grass spaces, or other non-specified and unapproved areas may be subject to ticket and/or tow.
- Disabled spectator parking is available with a valid, state issued disabled hang tag in the E-Lot (Employee Lot) north of the Joe Craft Center. These spaces are available on a first-come, first-served basis until full.
- A parking map can be found, here.
Transit Center Parking Garage
- UK women’s basketball fans can avoid traffic and congestion around Memorial Coliseum and park for FREE at the Transit Center Garage – available after 5 p.m. ET on weekdays and all day for weekend games.
- The Transit Center Parking Garage is accessible from Vine Street of High Street.
- Push the green flashing button upon entry, take the yellow token and store it in a safe place. Park in the garage and find the UK Athletics event staff member at the entrance of the garage near Lexington Avenue for a free parking token to use after the game when you exit the garage. Staff will remain on site until 20 minutes after tip.
- Please do not lose your token. If you lose your token, you will be charged an $8 fee for a lost token fee. If you lose your token, visit the pay on foot station located in the 7th floor elevator lobby of the garage and choose “lost token.” You will be charged $8.00 and given a new token that can be used to exit the garage.
- For Friday, only those attending the women’s basketball game will receive a free token. Those attending the men’s basketball game at Rupp Arena will have to pay normal price.
- Shuttles are available beginning 2 hours prior to tip and pick up and drop off near the South Limestone Garage (Parking Structure # 5) (blue route) and near the Transit Center Parking Garage and High Street Lot (green route).
- Shuttles will start back up after halftime to return guests to their parking areas, the shuttle will discontinue service 1-hour postgame.
- A shuttle map with route information is available here.
Game Day Information
- Doors to Memorial Coliseum open one hour prior to tip.
- UK Athletics encourages women’s basketball fans to arrive early to ease traffic and parking congestion around the Coliseum.
- For more information on parking around Memorial Coliseum and other game-day questions visit ukathleticsgameday.com/wbb/.
Mattthew Mitchell Pre-Morehead State Quotes
Opening Statement …
“Well, it is good to be back in Lexington. It was a tough trip out to Colorado. I thought the team really learned a lot from that game. So it was good to get back and we had some good work yesterday and we will have to work hard today and tomorrow to get prepared for a Morehead State team that is off to a very good start. They are very well coached and can really spread you out and drive the ball, which we struggled with early in the season. So we have a lot of work to do between now and tomorrow night to get ready for a good Morehead State team.”
On what the main things UK took away from the loss at Colorado …
“Well, one is we have to play with great energy. We were a little flat. We discussed it as a team that no matter how difficult the circumstance was, you know, we played Thursday and then flew out Friday and then played Saturday and it was just a tough trip on the team. And we just didn’t have the energy that we had had in the first three games. So it was a great lesson there that we have to find some way to be enthusiastic every time we take the floor. Then, we struggled against the 2-3 zone and just made some uncharacteristic turnovers, but I think it was just a lack of experience against that. You know, just things that we can do better and attack a zone better and play harder on defense. So there were some good things to take away. We really worked hard last night, I was really proud of the team for how they bounced back.”
On Evelyn Akhator and Makayla Epps carrying the load for the team and if they are taking enough shots …
“Well, one thing is that we did not move the ball well enough against the 2-3 zone and there were things that you just have to do against the 2-3 zone as a post player. So Evelyn just needs to be finding bodies to seal and post and create angles so you can get the ball to her and she just kind of floated all night. I think it’s just more learning how to really attack the 2-3 zone and I think we will see a lot of zone because we sprinted out to a good lead against their man-to-man and I think they figured, ‘well, we are not going to be able to guard them in man-to-man,’ so they went to the zone and it slowed us down. What we need to be able to do in the zone is make sure there are opportunities for Evelyn and Makayla to get the ball in crucial times. So I think that will come with increased work and it is still just so early in the season, they will get better at it.”
On if he has a number of shots he is wanting Makayla to take during a game …
“Well, we just want her to either take really good shots or set her teammates up. So if there are three people on her and she can pass the ball to the goal – an assist is as good as a shot. I think if you put a specific number on her, that is an artificial thing that then leads to maybe some poor decisions. We just want her to make some good decisions. She knows that she is important and knows that she needs to take a lot of shots, but they need to be good and she had done fine with that. I think it was just a very uncharacteristic game for us from just an energy standpoint and that was my biggest takeaway.”
On whether or not Evelyn Akhator emerging as the leading scorer is surprising…
“Well, I think by season’s end, she and Makayla will be neck-and-neck. They’re a great one-two punch. Nothing really that she does surprises me when it comes down to work ethic. She’s just a tireless worker and she’s spent a lot of time since the day she stepped on campus to improve. She’s a really special person from that standpoint. She wants to win – wants to win for her teammates and does a great job of developing the gifts that the great Lord’s given her. And she’s really spent a lot of time shooting and getting better as a shooter, and developing more polished off in some games. It doesn’t surprise me. If you’re around her every day, it doesn’t surprise you. She’s a tireless worker.”
On what will be the biggest challenge against Morehead State…
“Well, I think was concerns me is just they’re very, very aggressive and they have some outstanding offensive schemes to try to isolate the player they want to take the shot, and when that breaks down, they’re really aggressive on driving the ball. So, we didn’t do a great job of keeping the ball in front of us Saturday night and we need to do better because when you’re playing a team when you’re maybe a little bit bigger, the way they can equalize the game is layups, the free-throw line and the 3-point line, and they can really get to the rim. They attack the rim, and so we’ve got to do a good job defensively staying in front of them.”
On if anything has been a pleasant surprise so far this season…
“Well, I don’t know if it’s surprising, but they’re just a great group of kids to be around. Our team is a really great group. Their effort is outstanding. Their attitudes are great. You could tell last night when we were trying to talk about what we need to do to get better, they were receiving that just with open minds and open hearts and that’s a lot of fun to coach. When you’re not having to coach attitude and effort, it really is enjoyable from a coaching perspective. So, you know, we’re still trying to find our footing. We’re not a finished product by any means. It’s still very early for us. We’ll just keep working, but I really believe in them because of how hard they work.”
On his positivity after the loss to Colorado…
“I think you could’ve stayed home and played maybe a team with lesser talent, much like I really enjoyed watching the team beat New Hampshire on Thursday. We got a lot out of that game, from people playing hard and building some confidence and making shots. Those things are necessary early in the season and are good, but I really feel like we learned a lot too by going on the road, going through some adversity and, you know, getting beat there is only a negative thing if we don’t learn the lesson from it. So, this stage of the season, to go on the road and play in a tough spot, a tough place to play, I think you can learn a lot from that. So, it certainly was, in my mind, something we could build from and something we could find meaningful and positive things to work on and get better from. So, I thought it was… You never want to lose, and you hate to lose and it stinks to lose, but we lost the game, so how are we going to benefit? So, that’s my message to them. There’s a lot we can do and learn and I thought we got better, like Coach Dunn said at the end of practice, we were better at the end of practice than we were when we started. And that’s what it’s all about. We’ve just got to seek that constant improvement