University of Kentucky junior guards Maci Morris and Taylor Murray along with senior center Alyssa Rice have received recognition from league coaches as all three earned All-Southeastern Conference honors Tuesday. Morris was named to the All-SEC Second Team, while Murray was on the All-Defensive Team and Rice was tabbed one of three Scholar-Athletes of the Year.
This is the second All-SEC honor for Morris, who was selected to the SEC All-Freshman team in 2016, and the first for Rice and for Murray, who was named a preseason All-SEC Second Team selection earlier this season.
Morris continues UK’s stretch with at least one All-SEC First or Second Team honoree in every year under 11-year head coach Matthew Mitchell. Murray becomes the first UK player since Linnae Harper in 2015 to be named to the all-defensive team, while Rice is only the second scholar-athlete award winner in program history, joining Chelsea Chowning who won the award in 2008.
Morris is having a fantastic year for the Wildcats, leading the team by averaging 17.2 points per game. That average has increased in league play where she is averaging 18.3 points per game, which ranks sixth in the league. The native of Pineville, Ky., is the only player in the league to score 20 or more points in six straight league games. More impressive about her 20-point scoring streak is four of those six games came against top-15 teams, including three against top-10 teams. Morris is 69-of-147 this season from long range for 46.9 percent, which ranks fifth in the nation and second in the SEC. If that percentage holds, she will have the best 3-point field-goal percentage in a season in program history. The guard has scored 499 points this season taking her career total to 1,171, which ranks 24th on UK’s all-time scoring list, while her 171 career 3s hit ranks sixth best all-time. Morris’ best game came at South Carolina where she scored a career-high 35 points and hit five 3s, becoming the third player in program history to record 35 or more points in an SEC game.
Murray ranks second on the team in scoring at 11.2 points per game, but paces the Wildcats with 63 steals, 128 assists and ranks second on the team with 4.2 rebounds per game. The native of Odenton, Md., ranks third in the league in assist-turnover ratio, fifth in total assists, fourth in free-throw percentage, third in minutes played and fifth in steals. Murray had a stretch in conference play where she scored 10 or more points in eight straight games, including becoming the first player in school history to record 20 points and 10 assists in an SEC game. She accomplished that feat in UK’s win over Alabama and followed it by nearly earning another double-double with 12 points and seven assists against Arkansas. Murray has three double-doubles this season, including two point-assist double-doubles. The guard has led Kentucky in assists 20 times this season, while she has led UK in steals 18 times.
Rice has been the model student-athlete both on and off the court during her tenure in Lexington. The native of Reynoldsburg, Ohio, has a 3.938 cumulative grade point average and will graduate this May with a degree in accounting and minors in communication and psychology. A three-year member of the SEC Academic Honor Roll and two-time CoSIDA Academic All-District honoree, Rice was voted this preseason by her league peers as chair of the SEC Women’s Basketball Leadership Council and was tabbed the SEC’s representative on the NCAA Division I WBB Competition Committee. The appointment by the league allowed her to participate in the NCAA Autonomy Five Meeting and SEC Spring Meetings. On the court, Rice has played in 123 career games with 73 starts. She saved her best season for last as she is averaging a career-best 6.6 points with 5.9 rebounds per game this season. Rice also leads the team with 33 blocks and is only the ninth player in program history to record 90 or more career blocks. The center has two double-doubles this season and has posted 10 or more points in seven games. Last year, Rice was named to the SEC Community Service Team and traveled during the summer of 2017 with several other UK athletes on a service trip to Panama.
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