KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Maci Morris scored 27 points and Ogechi Anyagaligbo added 13 as the 16th-ranked Kentucky women’s basketball team topped No. 13 Tennessee 73-71 on Thursday night at Thompson-Boling Arena. It was Kentucky’s first win in Knoxville since February 16, 2014, and just the fourth time ever, in 27 tries, that Kentucky has won in Knoxville.
Jaida Roper added 10 points for Kentucky, including six huge points down the stretch as the shorthanded Wildcats held off the Lady Vols. For the final 4:19 of the game, Kentucky was without its three leading scorers on the season (Morris, Rhyne Howard and Taylor Murray). Morris fouled out at the 4:19 mark, Howard had previously fouled out after scoring just six points in 14 minutes and Murray was injured in the first half.
Kentucky (15-2, 2-1 SEC) got off to a quick start, scoring the game’s first seven points and establishing a lead inside the first two minutes of the game. Tennessee would cut the advantage to five, 9-4, before Kentucky went on a 13-1 run to take a 22-5 lead with 4:27 still remaining in the first period. Morris had six points, on a pair of three-pointers, during the run and Anyagaligbo added five.
Tennessee would cut into the lead, but the Cats would still hold a 27-16 advantage after one period. Morris had 11 points in the period and Murray had nine as Kentucky hit 11 of 20 from the field while forcing seven UT turnovers.
The Lady Vols continued to chip away at the Wildcats’ lead in the second quarter. Tennessee twice got within nine points before eventually cutting the lead to eight, 33-25, with 5:40 left in the half. But Kentucky held strong and the Cats took a 38-28 advantage into the half. Morris had 14 points in the first 20 minutes and Murray, who was injured and forced to go into the locker room just before the half, had nine points.
In the third period, Tennessee got even closer, cutting Kentucky’s lead to 40-33 with 9:04 left in the period. But, as they did in the second quarter, the Wildcats answered again. Kentucky went on an 11-3 run to stretch the advantage to 15 points with 3:59 to go in the third. Tennessee chipped away, but Kentucky held a 58-46 lead with 10 minutes to play. Morris led UK with nine points in the period.
Tennessee (12-3, 1-2) continued to get closer in the fourth quarter, eventually cutting Kentucky’s lead to two, 66-64, with 1:43 to play. That’s when, with the shot clock winding down, Jaida Roper hit a deep three-pointer to give the Cats a bit of breathing room. Roper would continue to be clutch down the stretch, scoring six of Kentucky’s final six points, including three huge free throws late to hold off the Lady Vols.
With her effort on Thursday, Morris moved into 10th place on UK’s all-time scoring list. The senior from Bell County (Ky.) High School now has 1,495 points during her four years in Lexington. She needs just eight points to move into ninth place on that elite list.
Murray added nine points for Kentucky before leaving the game with a knee injury just before halftime. Murray moved into a tie for 22nd on the UK career scoring list with 1,180 career points.
Team Records and Series Notes
- Kentucky moves to 15-2 on the season and 2-1 in the league while Tennessee is now 12-3, 1-2 SEC.
- The Wildcats will return to action Sunday vs. Ole Miss at 1 p.m. ET inside Memorial Coliseum. The game will be televised on the SEC Network while Darren Headrick will have the call on radio on the UK Sports Network.
- Tennessee leads the all-time series in games played against Kentucky, 55-12.
- UT leads the series 23-4 in games played in Knoxville.
- This was Kentucky’s first win in Knoxville since 2014.
- UK is now 813-534 all-time in program history.
- Matthew Mitchell is in his 12th year with the Wildcats and holds a 271-119 record. Mitchell is 301-148 overall in 14 years as a head coach.
- Kentucky is ranked No. 16 in the Associated Press Top 25 and USA Today/Coaches Top 25.
- The Lady Vols were the fourth ranked foe UK has faced this season. UK has a win over then-No. 17 South Florida before a loss at No. 5/4 Louisville and No. 7/6 Mississippi State.
- Both of Kentucky’s losses this season have come to top-10 teams on the road.
- UK is 2-2 on the season against ranked foes.
- 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 14-2 this season with this starting combination.
- Jaida Roper started the second half for Taylor Murray, who left the first half with an injury and did not return with knee pain.
- Kentucky started the game with a 22-5 run and ended the first quarter with a 27-16 lead. The Wildcats shot 55% (11-for-20) from the field in the first quarter, while Tennessee shot 28% (5-for-18).
- The Lady Vols had a 17-6 edge in rebounds in the first quarter, including 9-1 on the offensive glass.
- Tennessee won the second quarter 12-11 and took a 33-17 edge on the glass with nine second-chance points into the locker room at halftime.
- UK led 38-28 at halftime and held a double-digit lead most of the first quarter.
- UK hit six of its first 11 shots of the second half and grabbed six of the first 10 rebounds of the second half to increase its lead to 51-36 with 3:54 left in the third quarter.
- Tennessee started the fourth quarter on a 10-2 run to cut Kentucky’s lead to 60-56 with 5:39 left in the game.
- Senior guard Maci Morris scored a game-high 27 points on 10-of-16 shooting and 4-of-6 from long range.
- Morris now has 1,495 career points, which ranks 10th most in program history. She needs seven more point to tie Sarah Elliott for 9th all-time in school history in points scored.
- Morris has 224 career 3-pointers made which ranks second in program history. She needs 47 more 3s to tie Sara Potts for most all-time.
- Morris has hit at least one 3-pointer in 30 straight games.
- Entered the game hitting 21 straight free throws but missed her first two attempts.
- Morris also added three steals in the game.
- Senior guard Taylor Murray played a season-low nine minutes after leaving and not returning due to knee pain. She ended with nine points on 4-of-8 shooting with one assist.
- Murray now has 1,180 career points and ranks tied for 22nd all-time in points scored. She needs seven more to tie Maria Donhoff for 21st.
- Murray has 395 career assists which ranks ninth most in program history. She needs five more to tie Rita Adams for eighth.
- Freshman guard Rhyne Howard played 14 minutes and fouled out in the fourth quarter but scored six points with an assist and a steal.
- Junior forward Ogechi Anyagaligbo scored a UK career high 13 points on 6-of-7 shooting with three rebounds and one steal.
- Junior guard Jaida Roper scored 10 points with three assists and one steal.
- Roper’s biggest shot of the game came when she hit a 3-pointer with :55 left in the game to give UK a five-point lead he would not relinquish.