LEXINGTON, Ky. – Looking for its first Southeastern Conference win of the season after a challenging start in league play, the University of Kentucky women’s basketball team begins a two-game road swing Thursday at 7 p.m. ET against Florida inside Exactech Arena in Gainesville, Fla.
The game will be broadcast live on the SEC Network+ with Kyle Crooks and Brittany Davis on the call. The action can also be seen through WatchESPN on computers, smartphones or tablets. Darren Headrick, in his first year with the program, will be calling the game on the UK Sports Radio Network. Fans in Lexington can hear Headrick’s call on 630AM WLAP. Live stats and free audio will be available online at ukathletics.com.
Kentucky (8-9, 0-3 SEC) is coming off a 56-42 home loss to Georgia. The game against the Bulldogs ended a stretch where the Wildcats have played eight straight teams that have been or are ranked/receiving votes in the national listings. UK had a slow day offensively against Georgia, shooting a season-low 20.4 percent from the field, including just 3-of-14 from long range. Senior guard Makenzie Cann paced UK with 10 points, while freshmen post Dorie Harrison had nine rebounds.
The Wildcats have been led this season by junior guard Maci Morris, who is averaging 16.1 points per game with 4.2 rebounds per game and a team-best 39 3-pointers. Morris, who only played 21 minutes against Georgia due to a bruised knee, has scored in double figures in every game but two this season including five 20+ point performances. Morris is hitting 45.3 percent from long range this season, which ranks top 20 nationally and second in the SEC. Fellow junior guard Taylor Murray ranks top 40 nationally and top five in the SEC in assist-turnover ratio at 2.5. The native of Odenton, Md., is leading the team in assists with 65 and steals with 34, while sitting second in points (9.6) and rebounds (5.1) per game.
Florida enters the game with a 8-8 record, including a 5-5 mark at home, 1-2 record in true road games and 2-1 mark in neutral-site games. The Gators are 0-3 in the league with losses to Auburn, Alabama and Ole Miss. The most recent loss for Florida came in overtime at Ole Miss, 78-75. UF was paced in the game by senior forward Haley Lorenzen, who scored 19 points with 10 rebounds. Junior guard Funda Nakkasoglu scored 18 points with five 3s, while senior guard Dyandria Anderson and senior forward Paulina Hersler each had 12 points.
The Gators are averaging 72.1 points per game this season, allowing opponents to score 69.3 points per game. UF is hitting 42.4 percent from the field, 34.4 percent from 3 and out-rebounding teams by 6.3 rebounds per game. Florida is hitting 9.6 3-pointers per game, while allowing opponents just 6.6 makes from long range. Nakkasoglu is leading the Gators in scoring this season with 15.7 points per game hitting a team-best 40 3-pointers, while Lorenzen is averaging 12.4 points and 9.3 rebounds per game. Hersler, Anderson and sophomore guard Delicia Washington are all averaging double figures with Hersler and Anderson averaging 11.9 points per game, while Washington is posting 10.4 points and 8.6 rebounds per game.
Kentucky leads the all-time series in games played against Florida, 29-25. The Gators own a 12-9 record in games played in Gainesville. UK has lost the last two meetings in the series in Gainesville with the last win against the Gators on the road coming on Jan. 1, 2012, 59-56. Kentucky has won four of the last five and 10 of the last 13 meetings in the series. Matthew Mitchell is 11-4 against Florida in his time at Kentucky and 11-5 overall as a head coach against the Gators.
Kentucky defeated Florida 67-48 in the two team's lone meeting last season inside Memorial Coliseum. Evelyn Akhator was the star scoring 19 points with nine rebounds, while Morris had 15 points and Makayla Epps posted 14. Murray dished out a season-best 11 assists in the game. Washington led Florida with 14 points. UK forced Florida into 23 turnovers, which the Wildcats were able to turn into 24 points. Meanwhile, Kentucky turned the ball over 15 times, but Florida was only able to get 10 points off of the Wildcats' miscues. Kentucky won the rebounding battle 30-28, and the Wildcats took advantage of their opportunities on the offensive glass. Kentucky had 13 offensive rebounds and the Wildcats were able to get 25 second-chance points, compared to just five second-chance points for Florida.