No. 18 Kentucky Tops Middle Tennessee, 72-55
LEXINGTON, Ky. – Maci Morris scored 14 points, leading four players in double figures, as the 18th-ranked Kentucky women’s basketball team topped Middle Tennessee 72-55 on Saturday afternoon at Memorial Coliseum.
Morris hit four of her six shots from the field, including her only attempt from behind the arc, while making all five of her free throw attempts in the game.
Sophomore KeKe McKinney had a career-high 13 points, while senior Taylor Murray had 12 points and six assists. Freshman Blair Green added 11 points, including a perfect three-of-three from behind the arc.
Freshman Rhyne Howard was held to just eight points in the game, the first time this season that she has not reached double figures in scoring.
Kentucky (10-1) shot a season-high 56.8 percent from the floor in the game, connecting on 25 of 44 shots, including six of 10 from behind the arc. The Wildcats also forced 18 Middle Tennessee turnovers, turning those into 21 points.
Kentucky hit its first three shots from the floor in the game, taking an early 7-2 lead. The Cats would extend the lead to 13-5 on a three-pointer by Green with 3:59 left in the quarter. Middle Tennessee would cut the lead to six on two occasions, but Kentucky scored five of the last seven points in the period to lead 20-11 after 10 minutes. Green led all scorers with six points in the quarter.
The two teams struggled to score early in the second period, with Murray’s layup accounting for the only points during the period’s first two minutes. However, the scoring picked up later in the quarter, and Kentucky took a 12-point lead, 30-18, after consecutive three-pointers from Green and Morris.
Kentucky led 32-18 before Middle Tennessee scored five in a row, cutting the advantage to 32-23. The Wildcats answered by scoring the final 13 points of the half, holding the Blue Raiders scoreless for the final 3:54 of the half. Kentucky held a 45-23 lead at the break, led by 12 points from Morris and 11 from Green. Kentucky hit 15 of its 21 shots from the field (71.4 percent). It was the first time this season, and the first time since January 25, 2018 against Alabama, that the Cats had hit 70 percent or higher from the field in a half.
In the third quarter, Kentucky took its biggest lead of the game, 47-23, on a jumper by McKinney. But Middle Tennessee fought back, hitting their first six shots of the period and using a 14-4 run to cut the lead to 51-37 with 3:43 left in the third. The Blue Raiders would hit eight of 10 from the field in the period, but the Wildcats still held a 56-41 advantage after three quarters of play.
Kentucky would stretch the lead to as many as 20 in the fourth quarter before settling for the 17-point victory.
Middle Tennessee (7-3) got a game-high 27 points from senior forward Alex Johnson.
Kentucky returns to action on Tuesday, hosting Western Carolina at Memorial Coliseum. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. ET and the game can be seen on SEC Network+.