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UK women put five-game winning streak on the line with tough road encounter at Missouri

Fresh off its dominating performance against Ole Miss, the University of Kentucky women’s basketball team will put its five-game win streak on the line Monday at 7 p.m. at Missouri, which has won four straight games, including a win over nationally ranked Texas A&M. 
“We are heavy into preparation for Missouri,” UK coach Matthew Mitchell said Friday. “They are a very good basketball team. We did some really good things against them here in Lexington to earn the victory, but I think they are much improved and I think that we are much improved. It is always tough to go on the road. They are well coached and really play hard and have a lot of weapons. It will be a real test for us. We have to work hard and prepare and see if we can earn what would be a fantastic victory if we can get it.”

Matthew Mitchell and the Wildcats take on Missouri in Columbia, Monday night (UK Athletics Photo)

The game pits two of the hottest teams in the conference against each other as the Wildcats’ five-game winning streak is the second best in the league while Missouri’s four-game win streak is the third best. The two squads have met once already this season with Kentucky earning a hard-fought 64-62 victory in Memorial Coliseum.
Missouri outscored Kentucky in three of the four quarters in the game, including 15-8 in the first quarter before the Wildcats rallied to outscore the Tigers 26-6 in the second stanza. MU’s Sierra Michaelis led all scorers with 22 points adding four made 3s, seven rebounds and four assists. Sophie Cunningham scored 16 points with five rebounds, while the Tigers went 11-for-29 from 3 and outrebounded Kentucky, 37-30. Makayla Epps scored 17 points with five assists and five rebounds. UK hit an SEC game best nine 3s with six different players hitting from long range.
Kentucky (15-6, 6-2 SEC) is coming off a dominating performance against Ole Miss on Thursday, taking down the Rebels 89-57 in Memorial Coliseum. Evelyn Akhator led the way for Kentucky with her 12th double-double of the season scoring 28 points with 13 rebounds and three steals. Epps earned her seventh 20-point scoring game of the season with 20 points and six assists while sophomore Maci Morris went 5-for-9 from 3 for 17 points and five rebounds. The Wildcats shot 58.6 percent from the field as a team with nearly half of its points coming in the paint.
Epps is Kentucky’s leading scorer this season with 16.5 points and 4.3 rebounds per game. The senior leads Kentucky with 82 assists and is third on the team with 22 steals. Akhator is averaging 15.5 points and 10.6 rebounds per game, leading UK with 18 blocks and tied for first with 33 steals. Both Morris and fellow sophomore Taylor Murray are also averaging double figures. Morris is posting 11.8 points per game and leads UK with 38 made 3s, while Murray is averaging 12.5 points and 5.1 rebounds per game. Murray is also tied with Akhator with a team-high 33 steals.
Missouri currently owns a 15-7 overall record including a 5-3 mark in SEC play and 11-1 record at home. The Tigers have won four straight games, earning wins over Vanderbilt, highly ranked Texas A&M, Arkansas and Auburn. In its last game against Auburn, Missouri earned a 68-53 victory behind a career night from Cierra Porter, who had 27 points and nine rebounds. Porter shot 10-of-14 from the field while the Tigers as a team went 24-for-45 from the field for 53.3 percent. MU outrebounded Auburn, 40-27, and outscored AU in points in the paint 36-16.
On the season, Missouri is averaging 66.4 points per game, hitting 42.9 percent from the field and 33.5 percent from 3. The Tigers are allowing opponents just 61.1 points per game with a field goal percentage defense of 36.3 percent. Missouri has a +5.2 rebounding margin this season with 13.6 assists per game and a -3.1 turnover margin.
Cunningham leads the Tigers by averaging 16.3 points per game, adding 5.3 rebounds per game and is tied for the team lead with 76 assists. Porter is averaging 14.6 points and 8.8 rebounds per game with a team-best 37 blocks, while Michaelis has hit a team-best 48 3-pointers this season and is averaging 12.6 points and 5.0 rebounds per game.

The meeting with Missouri is the eighth all-time in program history with the Wildcats leading the all-time series 6-1. Kentucky leads the series 2-0 in games played in Columbia. The Wildcats have not lost to Missouri since they joined the SEC. UK’s only loss to the Tigers came in 2000 when they played on a neutral court. Matthew Mitchell is 5-0 in his coaching career against Missouri.

The game will be broadcast live on SEC Network with Brenda VanLengen and Carol Ross calling the action. The game will also be available through WatchESPN on computers, smartphones and tablets. Now in his 12th season, Neil Price will have the call on the UK Sports Network. Fans in Lexington can hear Price’s call of the game on 630 AM WLAP. Live stats and free audio will be available online atukathletics.com.

From UK Athletics

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