LEXINGTON, Ky. – Maci Morris scored 17 points and Jaida Roper added 12 as No. 18 Kentucky cruised past Sacred Heart 71-43 on Saturday at Memorial Coliseum.
With her effort today, Morris moved into 15th place on the UK career scoring list, passing former Wildcat great Jodie Whitaker. Morris now has 1,434 points, and counting, during her four years in Lexington.
Taylor Murray added 11 points, six rebounds and two assists, while freshman Rhyne Howard collected a career-high 15 rebounds. It was the first time a UK player had at least 15 rebounds since Evelyn Akhator had 23 rebounds against Ohio State in the NCAA Tournament on March 19, 2017.
The Wildcats hit just 27 of their 77 shots (35.1 percent) in the game, but the UK defense did its job, holding Sacred Heart in check. The Pioneers were just 14 of 52 (26.9 percent) from the floor while committing 17 turnovers that Kentucky turned into 18 points.
Kentucky (13-1) got the scoring started when Morris hit a three-pointer from the left corner. But Sacred Heart scored the next four points to take a 4-3 lead. After the Cats missed five straight shots, KeKe McKinney connected on a jumper to give UK a 5-4 advantage. McKinney’s basket started a 6-0 run that gave the Cats a 9-4 lead with 5:10 remaining in the period.
Sacred Heart battled back, assembling a 9-3 run to take a 13-12 lead with 1:02 left in the first quarter. But Morris answered with another three, giving the Cats a 15-13 advantage. Kentucky would lead 17-13 after 10 minutes, despite hitting just six of their 24 field goal attempts in the period.
Kentucky started the second period on a 6-2 run as the Wildcats’ defense forced the Pioneers to miss their first eight shots from the field. After the Cats took a 23-15 lead, Sacred Heart scored five straight to cut the lead to three. But Kentucky answered, scoring the last 10 points of the half, including five from Morris, to lead 33-20 at the break.
The Wildcats made just 12 of their 39 shots from the field in the first half, but UK’s defense did an outstanding job, as the Pioneers made just seven of 29 (24.1 percent) of their first-half attempts. Kentucky held Sacred Heart to one-of-16 (6.3 percent) from the floor in the second quarter. Morris led all scorers with 13 points in the first 20 minutes, while Howard had just five points, but did collect 10 rebounds.
In the third period, Sacred Heart got two free throws before Kentucky went on a 14-0 run to take a 47-22 lead. The Cats held Sacred Heart without a field goal for the first 6:39 of the half en route to a 26-point advantage. Kentucky hit nine of its first 13 field goals in the period before missing their last seven. Murray led UK with nine points in the period.
Kentucky returns to action on Thursday, hosting Vanderbilt at Memorial Coliseum in the SEC opener for both teams. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. ET and the game can be seen on SEC Network+.
Team Records and Series Notes
- Kentucky moves to 13-1 on the season while Sacred Heart is now 4-7.
- The Wildcats will return to action Thursday for their SEC opener vs. Vanderbilt at 7 p.m. ET inside Memorial Coliseum. The game will be streamed on the SEC Network+ while Darren Headrick will have the call on radio on the UK Sports Network.
- The Wildcats are in the midst of a five-game home stand. This was the fourth game.
- UK ends its non-conference portion of the schedule with a 13-1 record. The 13 wins mark the most in a season before Jan. 1 in program history.
- The 13-1 start ties the second best start under Matthew Mitchell for Kentucky. UK also started 13-1 in 2015-16 and started 18-1 in 2012-13.
- This was the first all-time meeting between Kentucky and Sacred Heart in women’s basketball.
- UK is now 811-533 all-time in program history.
- Matthew Mitchell is in his 12th year with the Wildcats and holds a 269-118 record. Mitchell is 299-147 overall in 14 years as a head coach.
- The Wildcats hold a 448-156 all-time record in Memorial Coliseum, including a 157-27 mark under Coach Mitchell.
- Kentucky is ranked No. 18 in the Associated Press Top 25 and No. 17 in the USA Today/Coaches Top 25.
- Kentucky used the starting combination of senior guard Taylor Murray, senior guard Maci Morris, freshman guard Rhyne Howard, sophomore forward KeKe McKinney and sophomore forward Tatyana Wyatt.
- Kentucky is now 12-1 this season with this starting combination.
- The Wildcats led 17-13 at the end of the first quarter even after shooting 25 percent (6-for-24) from the field. SHU shot 46 percent (6-for-13) from the field in the first 10 minutes.
- Kentucky’s 33 first-half points were the fourth fewest in a first half this season for UK.
- The Wildcats limited SHU to just 20 points in the first half. The Wildcats have limited four opponents this season to 20 points or less in the first half. The fewest UK has allowed was 18 vs. Southern.
- UK ended the half on a 10-0 run to grab a 13-point lead at 33-20.
- Kentucky went on a 14-0 run in the third quarter to take control of the game.
- Kentucky scored 18 points off 17 SHU turnovers.
- The Wildcats won the rebounding battled 57-35.
- It is the first time UK has had 20 or more rebounds than a team since November 2017 vs. Marshall.
- Senior guard Maci Morris scored a team-best 17 points with three 3-pointers adding five rebounds and three assists.
- Morris now has 1,434 career points, which ranks 15th most in program history. She needs 12 more to tie Tiffany Wait for 14th all-time in school history in points scored.
- Morris has 214 career 3-pointers made which ranks second in program history. She needs 57 more 3s to tie Sara Potts for most all-time.
- Morris has hit at least one 3-pointer in 27 straight games.
- Senior guard Taylor Murray scored 11 points with six rebounds.
- Murray now has 1,158 career points and ranks 26th all-time in points scored. She needs 12 more points to tie Jocelyn Mills for 25th all-time.
- Murray has 388 career assists which ranks ninth most in program history. She needs 12 more to tie Rita Adams for eighth.
- Freshman guard Rhyne Howard recorded a career-best 15 rebounds in the game.
- Howard is the first player with 15 rebounds in a game since Evelyn Akhator had 23 rebounds against Ohio State on March 19, 2017.
- This was the first game of Howard’s career at UK that she has not hit a 3-pointer.
- Freshman guard Jaida Roper scored 12 points with five assists in the game.
- Roper has scored in double figures in six games this season, including three straight.
- Roper has led UK in assists five times this season and 15 times in her career.