From UK Athletics
Murray racked up a career-high 23 points in the contest.
Knoxville, Tenn. – The No. 17 University of Kentucky women’s basketball team dropped its Southeastern Conference opener Sunday, falling 72-65 to Tennessee at Thompson-Boling Arena.
Sophomore guard Taylor Murray posted a career-high 23 points to lead the Wildcats in the contest and senior forward Evelyn Akhator recorded her eighth double-double of the season with 11 points and 10 rebounds, but it wasn’t enough to push Kentucky over the Lady Vols.
Despite Kentucky getting out to a 4-2 lead early in the first quarter, Tennessee would go on a 13-2 run to take a nine-point lead with 4:47 to go in the period. While the Wildcats would come within four, the Lady Vols ended the first quarter with a six-point lead off a jumper from Tennessee’s Diamond DeShields.
Tennessee started the second quarter with two quick baskets, quickly stretching its lead to 10. The Wildcats would battle back, coming within four points on two occasions but would leave the court at halftime seven points behind the Lady Vols.
After Tennessee stretched its lead to as many as 12, Kentucky would make one final push in the fourth quarter, as a layup from Alyssa Rice with 1:27 to go in the game would bring the Wildcats back within four. A missed jumper from Tennessee would give Kentucky a chance to make it a one possession game, but Makayla Epps would then miss a 3-pointer and Tennessee would get the rebound forcing Kentucky to foul with just :34 seconds left in the game. UT’s Jaime Nared would make both and Tennessee would not relinquish its lead.
Mercedes Russell led the Lady Vols with 22 points while DeShields followed close behind with 21.
Kentucky returns to action on Thursday at 7 p.m. ET when the Wildcats return home to take on Missouri inside Memorial Coliseum. The game will be broadcast live on SEC Network.
KENTUCKY WOMEN’S BASKETBALL POSTGAME NOTES
No. 17 Kentucky vs. (rv) Tennessee
Thompson-Boling Arena – Knoxville, Tenn.
Jan. 1, 2017
FINAL SCORE: No. 17 Kentucky 65, (rv) Tennessee 72
Team Records and Series Notes
– Matthew Mitchell is in his 10th season with Kentucky. Mitchell is 257-123 overall as a head coach and 227-94 during his tenure at Kentucky.
– With today’s loss, Kentucky drops to 11-54 in the overall series record against the Lady Vols.
o Last season, Kentucky earned a 64-63 victory in Lexington.
– Kentucky will return to action Thursday, Jan. 5 at 7 p.m. ET, when the Wildcats return home to face Missouri inside Memorial Coliseum. The game will be broadcast live on SEC Network and on the UK Sports Radio Network in Lexington on 630AM WLAP.
– Kentucky used the starting five of Makayla Epps, Evelyn Akhator, Maci Morris, Alyssa Rice and Taylor Murray.
o UK is 6-3 this season with that starting-five combination.
– With today’s loss, UK drops to 9-5 overall, 0-1 in the SEC.
o In the latest NCAA RPI report, UK has the third toughest schedule in the nation.
o The Wildcats are now 0-4 in road games this season.
– Kentucky won the battle in the paint, posting 42 points in the paint to UT’s 36.
– The Wildcats also had 17 fast break points to Tennessee’s eight.
– UK struggled to get going offensively, shooting just 11-of-32 in the first half (34.4 percent).
o The Wildcats ended the game 25-of-63 from the floor.
– Taylor Murray scored a career-high 23 points to go along with six rebounds, two assists and two steals.
o This was the third time Murray has set a career-high in scoring this season.
o Murray has scored in double figures in eight games, including two 20-plus point performances.
– Maci Morris added 15 points and two rebounds in the game.
– Makayla Epps had eight points and four rebounds for the Wildcats.
o It was just the second time this season the senior has not tallied double-digit scoring (Albany, 11/12/16).
– Evelyn Akhator posted her eighth double-double of the season with 11 points and 10 rebounds.
o Evelyn’s 21 career double-doubles ranks for fifth most in Kentucky history.
– Alyssa Rice grabbed seven rebounds to go along with six points.
– Jaida Roper had two points and one assist.