In a thrilling comeback game, the Kentucky Hoops team beat the Baylor Bears 74-64 in Rupp Arena last night. This was the first stop on the “Kentucky Revenge Tour,” which I actually made up. Baylor crushed Kentucky in the Sweet 16 in last year’s NCAA Tournament, so this victory must have been so much more to this team than just a mark in the W column. While the refs did their best to work against the Wildcats, the Hoops hung on and worked through the slow play and foul troubles.
The first half of this game was… rough. For both teams. Baylor had 16 turnovers, and Kentucky had 15. It was a slop fest. Ladies sliding all over the mid-court, racking up stupid choppy fouls, and shooting the ball way too fast in transition. Four Wildcats went into halftime with two fouls a piece, and knowing that this team is always more intense in the second half, that was troublesome. Jennifer O’Neill was 0-6 from the 3-point arc.
Let’s talk Jennifer O’Neill. It is finally her senior season, and it seems like the pressure of being a leader may have caught her tonight. In the past, when O’Neill plays well, the team wins, and when she plays poorly, they lose. This was always a double edged sword for the team because she usually does play fantastically and leads us to victory, but there’s always one game a year that she leads us down. Tonight, we saw this program develop and work through the Bronx native’s short comings. Jennifer O’Neill played horridly in the first half, and the team was still able to keep their heads up and pick up the slack. O’Neill missed her first 10 attempted 3’s, and only had 4 points going into halftime, but finished the game with 22 points and three rebounds.
Makayla Epps. She was a leader not only offensively, finishing second in scoring with 12 points, but led the team in rebounding with eight boards. When the team was experiencing some serious foul trouble (three starters with three fouls, one starter with four fouls), Epps was there to be a super versatile… everything. She played not only the point position, but also the wing, AND even the post. Tell me who else can do that? After the game, Makayla Epps told the press that the Rupp game is her favorite regular season game, and that being able to “look up a couple times and see [her] dad meant alot to [her].”
Kentucky will play Morehead State tomorrow afternoon at 11AM, and it’s the elementary game, so bring your Advil and earplugs.