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Kentucky Falls to Unbeaten Mississippi State in SEC Tournament Quarterfinals

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Taylor Murray scored 15 points, but the Kentucky women’s basketball team lost to No. 2 Mississippi State 81-58 on Friday in the quarterfinals of the SEC Women’s Basketball Tournament at Bridgestone Arena.

Kentucky (14-16) got 13 points from Maci Morris, who had scored at least 20 points in her last seven games prior to Friday. The Wildcats also got a career-high 13 points from Amanda Paschal.

Mississippi State (31-0) forced Kentucky into 13 turnovers and the Bulldogs turned those miscues into 21 points. UK had just four points off of MSU’s five turnovers. The Bulldogs also held a big advantage at the free throw line, hitting 15 of 17 (88.2 percent), while the Cats hit just five of seven (71.4 percent). MSU also got big production from three-point range, hitting 10 of 21 (47.6 percent) from behind the arc, while UK hit five of 11 (45.5 percent).

Kentucky held and early 4-2 lead before going nearly four minutes without a point. During that time, MSU outscored UK 7-0, part of a 14-4 run that would give the Bulldogs a 16-8 lead with 3:51 left in the period. However, Kentucky assembled an 8-1 run to cut the lead to 17-16 with 2:40 remaining in the quarter.

The Bulldogs would lead 22-18 late in the first quarter, but the Wildcats scored the last five points of the period, including a three-pointer by Paschal with eight seconds remaining, to take a 23-22 lead after 10 minutes of play. Kentucky hit 10 of 15 (66.7 percent) from the field in the first quarter, including three of four behind the arc. Morris and Paschal each had seven points in the period for the Cats.

In the second period, MSU scored the first 10 points and put together a 19-2 run to lead 41-25 with 4:28 left before halftime. Kentucky tried to cut into the lead, but the Cats hit just three of nine shots from the field in the period while turning the ball over five times. MSU hit eight of 14 (57.1 percent), including five of eight (83.3 percent) from behind the arc, in the period, and the Bulldogs led 45-32 at the break.

MSU stretched its lead in the third quarter by hitting nine of 15 (60 percent) of its shots from the floor. Kentucky hit six of its 14 shots (42.9 percent), but the Bulldogs outscored the Cats 23-12 to lead 68-44 after three periods.

Early in the fourth quarter, MSU would lead by 26, but Kentucky would not go away. The Wildcats would cut into the lead, outscoring the Bulldogs 14-13 in the fourth quarter, but it would not be enough. 

FINAL SCORE: Kentucky 58, No. 2/2 Mississippi State 81

Team Records and Series Notes

–          Kentucky moves to 15-17 overall, 6-10 in Southeastern Conference play this season, while Mississippi State is undefeated at 31-0, 16-0 SEC.

–          The Wildcats lead the all-time series between the two teams, 27-20.

o   UK also leads 5-2 in neutral site games.

o   Prior to this season, UK had won 11 straight games against MSU.

–          This was the fifth game this season that Kentucky has played against a team that currently ranks in the AP Top 4, which is more than any other team in the nation.

–          The Wildcats played one of the hardest schedules in the nation this season, ranking top 15 in the NCAA RPI.

o   UK played 11 games against top-25 teams.

 

Team Notes

–          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 1-1 with that starting-five combination.

–          The Wildcats trailed by as many as eight points in the first quarter before ending the period on a 15-6 run.

o   UK led 23-22 at the end of the first quarter.

–          Kentucky was held to nine second-quarter points, while MSU had 23 to take a 45-32 lead at halftime.

–          The Bulldogs led by as many as 26 in the fourth quarter, outscoring UK 36-26 in the second half.

–          The Wildcats outscored MSU in the paint, 32-22.

 

Player Notes

–          Taylor Murray led Kentucky in scoring with 15 points to go with seven rebounds and three assists.

o   It was her 18th game in double digit scoring this season.

o   She led UK in assists for the 23rd time this season.

o   Murray is nearing the 1,000 point club with 961 career points at Kentucky.

–          Maci Morris added 13 points for the Wildcats.

o   The performance broke her streak of seven straight games with 20+ points.

o   Had scored in double digits in 13 consecutive contests.

o   Scored in double figures in all but three games this season.

–          Amanda Paschal scored a career-high 13 points in her second-ever start for Kentucky.

o   She went 5-of-6 from the floor.

o   It was her sixth game in double-digit scoring this season.

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