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Lexington, KY 1-8-23

The ‘Cats entered Rupp Arena Sunday afternoon for their second and final game at the venue this season. The ‘Cats fell in their previous matchup at Rupp Arena, that loss coming against Louisville, 86-72. The ‘Cats saw the No. 7 LSU Tigers come to town for their fourth conference matchup of the season. The Tigers feature the best scoring offense in the country, scoring an average of 91.2 PPG as a team and shooting 50% from the field. The Tigers entered the game with a 15-0 record on the season and a 3-0 record in conference play. The Tigers stellar offense is led by Angel Reese (24.1 PPG, 15.8 RPG), Flau’jae Johnson (13.7 PPG, 6.7 RPG), and Alexis Morris (12.9 PPG, 3.1 RPG, 4.8 APG). On the flip side, Kentucky sports the No. 102 ranked scoring offense in the country with an average of 70.5 PPG. For the ‘Cats, Robyn Benton (16.7 PPG, 2.6 RPG, 2.2 APG), Jada Walker (12.9 PPG, 3.0 RPG, 3.8 APG), and Maddie Scherr (7.9 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 5.2 APG) lead the offensive attack. The ‘Cats came into the game with an 8-7 record on the season (lost 6 of their last 7 games) while starting conference play 0-3. Some keys for the ‘Cats in the matchup were to limit turnovers (17.5 per game), convert three-point opportunities (26.3% from three on the season), post matchups, rebounding (LSU averages 52 RPG, Kentucky averages 36 RPG), and have a fast start offensively.

The starting lineup for the ‘Cats featured Scherr, Walker, Benton, Green, and Leveretter.

Game Recap:

The game scoring started with a fee-throw conversion for the Tigers to give LSU an early 1-0 lead. After the Tigers started the game on a 5-0 run, Walker scored the ‘Cats first points on a driving layup that brought the score to 5-2 with 8:20 left in the first quarter. Benton nailed the first three-pointer of the game for the ‘Cats to narrow the score to 7-5 LSU. Quick and efficient ball movement and passing to consistently get the ball to the post for the Tigers pushed their early lead to 8 by a score of 13-5with 6:05 left in the first. An and-one opportunity for Leveretter off an offensive putback left the score at 13-7 after the missed free-throw. An in-rhythm three-pointer by Scherr off another offensive board for the ‘Cats brought the score to 15-10 with 3:45 remaining in the quarter. An acrobatic drive after a deliberate ‘Cats offensive possession narrowed the Tigers lead to 15-12. A 4-minute LSU scoring drought ended on a couple free-throws to end the quarter with a score of 17-12 Tigers. The ‘Cats ended the quarter on a short 2-minute scoring drought of their own. The ‘Cats displayed hustle on both ends of the floor, increased energy on defensive end and in their rebounding effort after missed shots (9-7 LSU in rebounds in first quarter). The ‘Cats shot just 31% from the field in the quarter but collected 10 of their 12 points on second chance opportunities.

The second quarter scoring started with a Benton mid-range jumper 2-minutes into the quarter. The score sat at 17-14 Tigers with 7:12 to play in the half. The Tigers first score of the quarter came 4-minutes in via a driving layup. Scherr hit her second three of the game to bring the ‘Cats within 2, 19-17. The score at the media timeout in the second quarter was 21-17 LSU with 4:45 to play in the half. A 6-0 LSU run pushed the score to 25-17 Tigers. That 6-0 run was stretched to a 12-0 run, coupled with over a 3-minute scoring drought, to leave the score at 31-17 Tigers with 2:16 left in the half. That ‘Cats scoring drought stretched to over 5-minutes to end the half. Kentucky scored just 5 points as a team in the second quarter and ended the quarter getting outscored 14-5 by LSU. The halfimte score saw LSU lead the ‘Cats 31-17. The ‘Cats shot just 22% from the field in the first half. After a strong team rebounding effort in the first quarter, LSU outrebounded the ‘Cats 17-5 in the second quarter. Scherr led the ‘Cats in first half scoring with 6-points.

The second half scoring began with a Benton jumper that brought the score to 31-19 LSU. A hustle rebound by Scherr off a missed free-throw allowed the ‘Cats to convert a layup that brought the score to 33-22 Tigers. A Benton jumper left the score at 39-26 LSU with 5:45 left in the third. Back-to-back three included in an 8-0 run by the Tigers stretched their lead to 21 by a score of 47-26 with 2:51 to play in the third quarter. Over a 5-minute scoring drought for the ‘Cats was broken via a Petty free-throw that brought the score to 50-27. The score at the end of the third quarter was 54-27 LSU. The ‘Cats were outscored 23-10 in the quarter and the Tigers ended the quarter on a 15-1 run. The ‘Cats also committed 7 third quarter turnovers.

The final quarter scoring began with a driving layup by LSU. Petty finally converted a layup for the ‘Cats in the post off a half-court set to bring the score to 59-31 LSU with 7-minutes to play. A Scherr transition three followed by a Scherr steal and layup narrowed the ‘Cats deficit to 22, 62-40 with 3:06 to play. A Green three extended the ‘Cats 7-0 run as they looked to finish the game strong on both the offensive and defensive end. With 1:47 remaining in the game, the score was 62-43 LSU. A Scherr three ended the game scoring as the ‘Cats fell to the Tigers by a score of 67-48. The ‘Cats did outscore the Tigers 21-13 in the fourth quarter. Scherr led the ‘Cats in the quarter with 12-points and 2-assists.

The Tigers were held to just 67 points on 40% shooting, a credit to the ‘Cats defense in the game. The ‘Cats offense shot just 35% and 35% from three. The Tigers dominated the boards by a count of 45-23. Both teams committed a whopping 25 turnovers each. LSU attempted 31 free-throws in the game, while the ‘Cats attempted just 9. The lack of a post-presence down low for the ‘Cats, in addition to the likes of Reese for the Tigers resulted in a lack of post scoring opportunities for the ‘Cats throughout the game. Reese finished the game with 26-points and 13-reboudns for the Tigers. Scherr led the ‘Cats in scoring with 19-points while Benton was the only other ‘Cat in double figures with 11-points. Leveretter led the rebounding effort for Kentucky with 5. Scherr also led the ‘Cats in assists with 3 in the game. Cambridge posted the best plus/minus total for the ‘Cats with a +1 in 18-minutes of action.

The ‘Cats (8-8, 0-4 SEC) next game is Thursday, January 12 versus No. 1 South Carolina (16-0, 4-0 SEC) at Memorial Coliseum. Tipoff is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. The game will be televised on SEC Alternate.

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