By Tyrus York: After a poor first half performance that led to a 7-point Lady Vol lead, UK Hoops, primarily on the back of MaKayla Epps’ 17 second half points, were able to storm back and hang on for the 64-63 win over their arch rivals.
It’s not very often a 6 loss Lady Vol (12-6, 3-2) squad comes to Memorial Coliseum to play UK Hoops (14-3, 3-3) in the middle of the SEC season. But that is exactly what happened on Monday night for a nationally televised game that had huge implications for SEC standings going forward.
Over the last few years it has been these two teams duking it out for a spot at the top of the SEC. But after a 3-2 start for the Vols and a 3-3 start for the Cats, these two teams needed a win to stay in contention.
It was literally a tale of two halves as Tennessee could do no wrong in the first half, shooting 54% from the field and 71% from three-point land. But it was all Epps and Kentucky in the second half as the Lady Vols went cold from the field for 32% shooting and only 20% from three.
Size has always been an issue when these two teams collide and it usually favors the Vols. This year was no different, but we saw that Kentucky may be making strides in their recruiting to catch up to the perennially big Vols.
UK Hoops bigs Alexis Jennings and Batouly Camara would help the Cats stay close in the rebounding department with 6 and 9 rebounds each. Camara logged the start and took full advantage with a near double double adding 8 points to her 9 rebounds, including a huge block as time was winding down to prevent an easy layup to give the Vols the lead.
Kentucky will now face Vanderbilt at home on Thursday after a quick turnaround. Tip is scheduled for 7 pm in Memorial Coliseum.
Kentucky Women’s Basketball Postgame Notes
FINAL: #12 Kentucky 64, #19 Tennessee 63
Memorial Coliseum – Lexington, Ky.
Jan. 25, 2016
Team Records and Series Notes
– UK came back from a 10-point deficit to take down No. 19 Tennessee, 64-63 in Memorial Coliseum.
– With the victory, UK moves to 15-3 on the season, and 4-3 in Southeastern Conference play while Tennessee falls to 12-7 (3-3 SEC).
– The meeting was the 64th between the two programs, with UK advancing to 11-53 in the all-time series.
– The victory snaps a four-game losing skid against the Lady Vols.
– Matthew Mitchell is in his ninth season with Kentucky and the win moves him to 239-113 overall, including a 209-84 record while at Kentucky.
– Attendance at Memorial was 6,188, the highest in Memorial this year.
– UK started the lineup of Evelyn Akhator, Batouly Camara, Makayla Epps, Alyssa Rice and Maci Morris for the first time this season.
– The Wildcats were outrebounded, 41-38, but outscored the Lady Vols in the paint, 34-16, and in points off turnovers, 18-10.
– UK committed just 10 turnovers, a season low for the 2015-16 season and the fewest in an SEC game since UK gave up just nine turnovers against South Carolina on Feb. 20, 2014, while forcing 21 Tennessee miscues.
– The Wildcats went 25-of-69 from the field for a .362 clip, including a .448 clip in the second half. The Lady Vols shot 41.8% of the field, but were held to 32.3% in the second half.
– In two consecutive home games (last vs. Auburn on Jan. 17), UK has won a game after trailing at the half at home.
– The last time that a game was decided by one point was also against Tennessee on Jan. 29, 2015, which resulted in a 73-72 setback to the Lady Vols.
– The victory marked the first time since March 1, 2015 against No. 2/2South Carolina, that UK has defeated a top-25 SEC opponent at home.
– Kentucky and Tennessee exchanged points for the first period, with UT holding the 19-18 advantage going into the second period.
– Tennessee went on a 13-5 run to start the second period, extending the lead to 35-28 by the end of the half.
– UK shot 30.0% from the field in the first half on 12-of-40 shooting, while UT had success on 54.2% of its shots, including a 5-of-7 performance from the 3-point line (71.4%).
– UK held the edge in the paint at the half, 16-4, and in points off turnovers, 10-2, but was outrebounded 19-17, with 15 of Tennessee’s boards coming from defensive rebounds.
– UK started on a 7-2 run in the first 1:48 of the third period, with all seven points coming from Epps.
– The Wildcats were able to take the lead, 43-42, thanks to a 3-pointer from Taylor Murray.
– UK was perfect on its first six shots in the third period.
– Tennessee was held to three field goals in the third period, while UK went on a 12-0 run from 6:39 to :59, the 18th run of 10-or-more points of the season.
– UK led at the end of the third period, 49-44, with Epps scoring 14 of Kentucky’s 21 points.
– UK never rescinded the lead for the rest of the contest, but Tennessee came within one point in the final seconds of the game.
– Makayla Epps led the team with 23 points, 14 of which came in the third period alone. Epps also notched two rebounds, an assist and a block.
o Her 17 points in the second half mark the first time that a UK player has scored 15 or more points in the second half since she accomplished the feat vs. Morehead State on Nov. 18, 2015.
– Janee Thompson added 15 points to go with six assists and three steals.
– Batouly Camara, in her first career start, was just shy of a double-double with eight points and a team-best nine rebounds to go with two blocks.