No. 7 Kentucky women beat Tennessee State 81-39
LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) A seven-day layoff didn't bother No. 7 Kentucky.
Evelyn Akhator recorded her fourth double-double of the season with 14 points and 13 rebounds to lead the undefeated Wildcats to an 81-39 victory over Tennessee State on Monday night.
Kentucky (11-0) became the second team in school history to win its first 11 games. Kentucky opened 2013-14 with 11 straight victories and finished with a 26-9 record.
Kentucky coach Matthew Mitchell is pleased with the undefeated start, but was equally happy with his team's defensive effort. The Wildcats forced 24 turnovers and scored 27 points off them. Kentucky held an opponent to less than 40 points for the third time this season.
''We really wanted to limit their scoring tonight and I thought we did a great job of that,'' Mitchell said. ''We made a lot of hustle plays out there. We weren't perfect by any means, but we really fought and hustled. It was an overall effort and good hustle coming back from the break. We wanted to limit them to the lowest possible points we could. I'm really proud of holding them to 39 points.''
To go along with its defensive performance, Kentucky displayed balance scoring as six players finished in double figures. Freshmen Maci Morris and Taylor Murray had 13 points each, Alexis Jennings and Janee Thompson added 10 each and Makayla Epps scored 11. Murray's equaled a career high.
''That's going to have to be the team we're going to have to be (going into conference play),'' Mitchell said. ''We need to be a team that you don't know who you can key on and anybody can hurt you. We're just trying to be as good of a team as we can be. We need balance and we need everybody contributing and hustling.''
The Wildcats closed the first quarter with a 20-3 run for a 27-9 lead. Morris and Murray gave the Wildcats a spark off the bench, combining for 14 points during the spurt.
Murray led the Wildcats with 10 points in the first half, while Morris had eight.
''They had some really good moments on the game,'' Mitchell said. ''I'm just happy they've been able to progress so quickly. We don't have the option be poor players. I thought Maci and Taylor in the first half, really keyed us with some good defense and made really great decisions offensively.''
Kentucky stretched the lead to 33-9 after scoring the first six points of the second quarter. Tennessee State ended a 5-minute scoring drought on a basket by Jayda Johnson, the first of three straight baskets by the Lady Tigers, who shot 27 percent (16 for 60) from the field.
Johnson led Tennessee State (5-7) with 19 points.
The Wildcats improved to 93-17 overall against Ohio Valley Conference opponents. Kentucky is undefeated against OVC members Tennessee State (6-0), Austin Peay (5-0), Eastern Illinois (2-0), Jacksonville State (1-0), Murray State (13-0) and Tennessee-Martin (5-0).
Tennessee State: The Lady Tigers have struggled on the road this season, falling to 0-5. ... Tennessee State plays its next three games on the road, including its conference opener Saturday at Southeast Missouri State. ... Asia Sims, a 2015 Bourbon County High School graduate, played but didn't score.
Kentucky: The Wildcats, 12th in the nation in assists per game (18.5), had 16 against the Lady Tigers. ... Going into its Southeastern Conference opener, Kentucky is just one of three undefeated teams in the league. No. 2 South Carolina (12-0) and No. 25 Missouri (11-0) were off Monday.
Tennessee State plays at Youngstown State on Wednesday
Kentucky plays at Auburn on Sunday