NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Maci Morris scored 25 points, including 18 in the second half, as Kentucky beat Alabama 71-64 on Thursday in the SEC Tournament at Bridgestone Arena.
For Morris, it was the seventh straight game in which she has scored 20 points or more. The junior from Bell County (Ky.) High School hit nine of 16 from the floor, including five of eight from behind the arc, while adding seven rebounds and a career-high six assists. With her effort on Thursday, Morris moved into 20th place on Kentucky’s career scoring list with 1,196 points.
Kentucky (15-16) also got a big effort from junior guard Taylor Murray, who had 18 points, six rebounds and five assists. Dorie Harrison added eight points for the Cats, while Alyssa Rice had seven points and six rebounds.
Alabama took a 6-1 lead early in the game before Kentucky got its offense going. The Wildcats answered with a 7-2 run, sparked by five points from Morris, to tie the game at 8-8. But Kentucky went cold at that point, failing to score for the last 5:14 of the period. Meanwhile, Alabama ran off 10 straight points to lead 18-8 after the first quarter.
The second quarter was much different, as Kentucky turned up the defense, forcing Alabama to miss six straight shots from the field while turning the ball over four times. Kentucky held Alabama without a point for the first 5:29 of the period, climbing back into the game with an 8-0 run. Kentucky would eventually claim a 21-20 lead on a layup by Murray. But again, Alabama answered, this time with five straight points, and the Tide would lead 25-23 at the break.
Early in the third quarter, Alabama built a six-point advantage, 32-26. But Kentucky fought back, scoring the next seven points to take a 33-32 lead. Alabama answered UK’s run with a 12-2 stretch to make it 44-35. Again, Kentucky would not go away, answering Alabama’s run with a 13-2 stretch, keyed by five points from Morris, to take a 48-46 lead. Kentucky would hold a 50-48 lead at the end of the period. The Wildcats had 27 points in the third quarter after scoring 23 in the entire first half.
Kentucky held a four-point advantage early in the fourth quarter, 54-50 before Alabama rallied to tie the game at 55 apiece. But, as they did all day, Morris and Murray helped the Cats pull ahead. Kentucky would lead by as many as seven points on three occasions, including at the final horn.
Kentucky returns to action on Friday, as the Wildcats face unbeaten Mississippi State in the SEC Tournament at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville. Tipoff is set for 1 p.m. ET and the game can be seen on the SEC Network.
KENTUCKY WBB POSTGAME NOTES
Kentucky vs. Alabama
SEC Tournament Second Round
Bridgestone Arena – Nashville, Tenn.
March 1, 2018
FINAL SCORE: Kentucky 71, Alabama 64
Team Records and Series Notes
– Kentucky moves to 15-16 overall, 6-10 in Southeastern Conference play this season, while Alabama is 17-13, 7-9 SEC.
o The Wildcats are 6-0 vs. Alabama in the tournament.
– The Wildcats will advance to the SEC Tournament Quarterfinals for the ninth straight season.
– Matthew Mitchell is in his 11th season as head coach at Kentucky. He is the winningest head coach in program history at 256-116.
– Kentucky is 35-38 all-time in the SEC Tournament.
– The Wildcats now lead the all-time series between the two programs, 30-17.
o Kentucky also took the regular-season game between the two, winning 79-54 in Lexington on Jan. 25.
– Kentucky will be back in action tomorrow for the quarterfinals, taking on No. 2 Mississippi State at 1 p.m. ET on SEC Network.
– Kentucky used the starting combination of senior Alyssa Rice, senior Makenzie Cann, junior Taylor Murray, junior Maci Morris and freshman Amanda Paschal.
o UK is 1-0 with that starting-five combination.
o It was the first career start for Paschal.
– After being knotted at 8-8, Alabama ended the first quarter on a 10-0 run to take an 18-8 lead.
– The Wildcats opened the second quarter on an 8-0 run to come within two at 18-16.
o UK held Alabama scoreless for the first 5:29 of the second quarter.
– Kentucky trailed 25-23 at halftime after outscoring Alabama 15-7 in the second quarter.
– After trailing by as many as nine in the third quarter, UK used an 10-0 run to take a 48-46 lead with 35 seconds left in the period.
o UK led 50-48 at the end of the third quarter.
– Kentucky never trailed in the fourth quarter.
– In the final three quarters, UK outscored the Tide 63-46.
– After shooting just 9-of-29 (.310) from the floor in the first half, UK shot 16-of-24 (.667) in the second half.
– UK won the battle on the defensive glass, 26-21.
– Kentucky is 12-3 this season when scoring 70 or more points.
– The Wildcats dished out 17 assists in the win.
o UK has had 14+ assists in eight of its last 11 games and are 14-3 this season with 14+ dimes.
– Maci Morris led Kentucky in scoring with 25 points for her seventh straight game with 20+ points.
o Morris led the Wildcats with seven rebounds and six assists.
o She now ranks No. 20 on Kentucky’s all-time scorers list with 1,196 career points.
o The junior was 5-of-8 from beyond the arc.
- Was 4-of-5 from 3 in the second half alone.
o Now tied with Keyla Snowden for No. 4 on Kentucky’s all-time 3s made with 176.
o Has scored in double figures in all but three games this season.
o She is the only player in the league to score 20 or more points in seven straight games.
– Taylor Murray added 18 points, six rebounds and five assists in the win.
o Her 17th game in double-figure scoring this season.
o Her 13th game with 5+ assists this season.
o It was her highest scoring performance since posting 23 at Missouri on Feb. 8.
– Alyssa Rice added important minutes, posting seven points, six rebounds and three blocks.
o Her three blocks matched her most in an SEC game this season.
– Dorie Harrison scored eight points to go with three blocks.
o Her three blocks were the most since she had five vs. Evansville.