No. 15 Kentucky vs. No. 23 Arizona State

Rupp Arena – Lexington, Ky.

Dec. 11, 2016

FINAL SCORE: No. 15 Kentucky 71, No. 23 Arizona State 73

Team Records and Series Notes

–          Matthew Mitchell is in his 10th season with Kentucky. Mitchell is 256-121 overall as a head coach and 226-92 during his tenure at Kentucky.

–          Currently, UK is No. 15 in the Associated Press Top 25 and No. 18 in the USA Today/Coaches Top 25. Kentucky has been ranked in both the USA Today/Coaches’ Top 25 and The Associated Press Top 25 since week 13 of the 2009-10 season, which is a program-record streak of 137 weeks.

–          With today’s loss, UK goes to 111 against the Sun Devils as today was only the second ever meeting between the two programs.

o   Last year, Kentucky earned a 68-64 overtime victory in Tempe.

–          Kentucky will return to action Sunday, Dec. 18 at 2 p.m. ET, when the Wildcats host Radford inside Memorial Coliseum. The game will stream live on SEC Network+ and will be broadcast on the UK Sports Radio Network in Lexington on 630AM WLAP.

Team Notes

–          Kentucky used the starting five of Makayla EppsEvelyn AkhatorMaci MorrisMakenzie Cann and Taylor Murray.

o   UK is 1-2 this season with that starting-five combination.

–          Today’s loss brings UK’s record to 7-3 overall.

–          UK is 0-2 this season in overtime contests after losing in overtime at Louisville, 69-67, on Dec. 4.

–          UK is now 25-15 overall inside historic Rupp Arena. This is the only game the Wildcats will play inside Rupp this season.

o   UK went 2-1 last season in Rupp, defeating Louisville and Duke in the regular season before falling to Washington in the NCAA Tournament.

o   Matthew Mitchell is 6-7 as a head coach in Rupp Arena.

–          Kentucky is now 5-9 overall against Pac 12 opponents.

o   UK is 0-2 against Pac 12 teams this season as the Wildcats fell to Colorado on the road on Nov. 19.

o   UK will face one more Pac 12 team this season when Washington State visits Memorial Coliseum on Dec. 21.

–          After calling a timeout in the middle of the third quarter, the Cats went on a 10-0 run to take a 48-40 lead.

o   Kentucky has recorded twelve 10-0 or more runs this season.

–          With 6:55 left in regulation, ASU would tie up the game at 52-52 and neither team would lead by more than three points again.

–          Arizona State out-rebounded Kentucky 41-32 in today’s game.

o   The Sun Devils out-rebounded UK 14-7 on the offensive end, giving ASU 17 second-chance points to UK’s 4.

–          Today’s game saw seven lead changes and 12 ties.

o   UK led for 28:03 while the Sun Devils led for only 7:05.

–          UK had zero points off the bench for the first time this season.

Individual Notes

–          Maci Morris posted a career-high 29 points to go along with three assists and one steal in today’s game.

o   The sophomore led all scorers with her first ever 20+ point game.

o   Morris surpassed her previous career-high of 19 (vs. Oklahoma, 12/01/16) by an astounding 10 points.

o   Morris went 9-of-17 from the floor and 9-of-9 from the free-throw line.

  • Morris set another career-high with nine free throws.

o   Her 17 field goal attempts also marked a career high for the sophomore.

–          Taylor Murray had 16 points, four rebounds and four assists for the Wildcats.

o   Murray has now scored 15+ points in six of the last seven games.

  • Prior to this season, Murray’s career high was 14 points.

–          Makayla Epps scored 14 points in today’s game, all of which came in the second half.

o   This was the second time Epps has been held scoreless in the first half (vs. Albany, Nov. 12).

  • Epps had eight points in the second half against Albany.

o   Epps also recorded seven rebounds, two assists and one steal.

o   With today’s performance, her career-points total climbs to 1,389.

o   Epps needs just 98 points (1,487 total) to enter Kentucky’s top-10 scorers in school history.

–          Makenzie Cann scored six points on 2-of-6 3-point shooting.

–          Evelyn Akhator added six points and 12 rebounds in the contest.

o   This was the seventh time this season Akhator has recorded double-figure rebounds and the eighth time this season she’s led the team on the boards.

o   Today’s game was only the second time this season the senior has not scored in double-digits.


Kentucky Women’s Basketball Postgame Quotes

Kentucky vs Arizona State 

Rupp Arena – Lexington, Ky.

Dec. 11, 2016

Head Coach Matthew Mitchell

Opening Statement …

“Well, tough loss today. Really a tough, tough game we tried hard to win it and just could not get it done so complement Arizona State for tough plays and a lot of really, really great plays. We won one at their place in overtime and they returned the favor so it was a great game and congratulations to Arizona state their kids really fought hard.”


On zone defense …

“We had some great moments early in the first half, I thought we played excellent defense and for whatever reason I did a poor job at halftime of trying to get our group ready to go. I thought it really hurt us in the start of the second half. We had a seven-point lead, we gave it all up. We won the rest of the game, the next 15 minutes we won by seven points if we could’ve just found some way to come out with some kind of energy right after half. So that’s something I’m going to have to work hard on to figure out some way. It was just a totally different team that came out after halftime. I don’t know if we relaxed or what happened but I thought that was really tough. We did some good things in the zone, we just stopped playing defense at the end and they got the ball inside well and scored well. Really disappointed in that but we just have to go to work and everything that happened today we’ll have to look at and see what we can improve.”


On what he wanted for the final shot …

“We were trying to get it to Makayla (Epps) but she got denied. They did a great job of denying her. And so they got us out of what we wanted. We were hoping to come around and screen and run Maci (Morris) off the hand ball and she’d come back. They did a great job. I put Makayla in a bad position that was a terrible play on my part.”


On Maci’s performance …

“She really played some great offense. She was so aggressive early in the game and I thought she was tremendously focused on attacking them because Arizona State tries to get you back on your heels. And so she made some tremendous plays today.”


On being out rebounded …

“Yeah just down there late. Again in the first half I thought we were battling them on the boards and they’re just relentless. They’ve got a great ability to get in there and just push and get you under the basket so they can get there and if you don’t get some assistance they’ll just ride right into the basket. So credit them they are just relentless on the boards. We were not tough enough pushing back and that really hurt us. The boards really hurt us.”


On the atmosphere and why play in Rupp one game out of the season …

“We appreciate everybody for coming out. And it’s exciting to come down here and get a big crowd. Appreciate folks coming out and showing up today, it’s a great atmosphere for our players and a lot of fun and a great building. They really got into it today and gave us some energy so we appreciate that.”


Kentucky Player Quotes

#4 Maci Morris, Guard

On her offensive success being a part of the game plan today …

No, not really. Later on it was a part of our game plan but I just recognized that they weren’t guarding the drive so Taylor (Murray) and I just tried to exploit that. We just tried to drive every time and score or get fouled.”


On gaining confidence after a 29-point game …

A little bit, but I would’ve rather won the game than have 29 points.”


#25 Makayla Epps, Guard

On what changed in the second half after losing a nine-point lead …

Just our defensive intensity. That’s what coach kept reiterating to us. Energy was just really low, and we just kept switching from two, back to man. I definitely have to agree with him (Coach Mitchell). Our defensive intensity dropped a lot.”


On losing in Rupp Arena…

Rupp is always one of my favorite places to be. Even Big Blue Madness, I really enjoy Big Blue Madness. I just love playing on the floor in Rupp Arena. You can fill it up to 24,000 and we brought in 13,000 today. The fans really got into it. It’s just a really good atmosphere to play in. On the court you can feel it rocking. The history of me and my father adds a little emotion to it. Even though I lost at Rupp, I lost at Louisville last week and the losses are right there and neither rank higher than the other. It all hurts.”


Arizona State Head Coach Charli Turner Thorne

Opening statement….

“What a fun environment, what a fun game. It felt like an NCAA game, well the first half wasn’t very fun. I’m just so proud of our seniors, they’re on a mission right now. We lost our starting  point guard on Monday indefinitely and all our back up guards are freshman and sophomores. These guys had to learn very quickly, they can’t just show up and play, they have to do a lot of other things to help our young guards. They’re doing it for sure, this was a great win. Matthew Mitchell does a great job and that team is going to do great things in the SEC and obviously they have had a really tough schedule so we’re really excited to get this tough road win.”


On Sophie Brunner hitting the game-winning shot….

“Well that young lady has hit more game-winning shots than any other player that I have coached in my entire career at ASU. There is no one else I would rather have the ball in her hands. I don’t know if any of you saw her game at Stanford last year where she hit the shot at the buzzer and she has done that since she has been a freshman so I was just glad that she had the ball in her hands. She didn’t execute very well down the stretch but again we’re a working progress but she’s just incredibly clutch for us.


On six seconds to go and UK with the ball…

“Switch whatever you need to switch. Try to get the deflection on the inbound play, pressure. Don’t be soft. This is so ironic, last year we had the big crowd, we were the favorite, they came into our place and stole it from us. I feel like the tables were turned this year and we kind of did the same thing to a certain degree this year so that was kind of fun, not going to lie. We practice those kind of plays all the time and we weren’t going to let any isos. We were not going to let Epps work the middle. You saw Sophie just run at her and I thought we did a great job, it helped that we did a great job of getting a deflection and I don’t think they were able to get a good look. Obviously, we weren’t going to let them do isos and we definitely weren’t going to play soft.”


Biggest difference in the second half…

“Well in the first half we were horrible and we didn’t get paint touches, which is always our first priority on offense, we settled, we forced things, and we didn’t play hard on defense so we were feeling pretty good about ourselves at half time in the sense that ‘Let’s go, let’s start working a lot harder on both ends of the floor.’ I thought we adjusted well and I thought that we started playing hard and playing well.”


On Maci Morris…

“I talked to our team about how much she has improved. She is really able to put the ball on the floor and you can’t give her those long layups. We just kind of kept having lapses on her and I can’t really explain it. We obviously had an emphasis on Epps and Murray has been playing outstanding and we didn’t want to give Morris those 3s in particular and we really didn’t do a good job in helping like we helped on the other players. I think that we left people a little high and dry when she had the ball but I have seen her play a lot and I think she has improved her game a lot better from last year.”


On Kentucky’s zone…

“They’ve been playing a lot more zone, especially against the BCS teams that they have been playing on their schedule. We prepared a lot more for zone this week because that is what I felt like we needed to focus on so I thought we did a better job in the second half getting paint touches, getting the ball inside whether they were in man or zone. We had one on one in the post we just needed to move the ball a little bit and find it. Are we where want to be? Absolutely not, we are a work in progress especially offensively. Being so young we make sure we put a lot of emphasis on scoring. The best kept secret about our team is that we can actually shoot the ball. We made our free throws this year, I knew that would start happening because we have been dismal from the line but we have good free throw shooters so it’s coming. Every week we have to keep working on playing together. We have a very young team in the backcourt and half of our players are new. It was an adjustment not having a Kiki Russell, she is our starting Point Guard, we lost her Monday in practice and I thought our team really stepped up and did really well in her absence.”


Arizona State Player Quotes

#21 Sophie Brunner, F

On what was going through her mind on that last shot to win the game …

“I just knew that we needed to get a shot off so that’s what I was trying to do before time expired – to give an opportunity to my team. I just threw something up there hoping that it went in and it did.”


On playing in Rupp Arena …

“Obviously we knew they were going to have a good crowd coming in, they have good fan base. We were really excited about that and to play a good team today. It was really exciting when the crowd was getting loud. I’m really proud of our team and how we stuck together through it all.”


#22 Quinn Dornstauder, C

On playing in Rupp Arena …

“I think the environment was really fun and that really helped make the game very intense and fun. At the end of the day it doesn’t really matter where you are playing but if you are playing your own game.”


On playing a high-low style of game …

“Well we noticed that the high-low was working for us, so we tried to get the ball low to the paint and get a lot of paint touches. We wanted to take shots that we could get rebounds off of.”

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