LEXINGTON, Ky. – University of Kentucky women’s basketball senior guard Taylor Murray, who leads the Wildcats and ranks top-10 nationally with 82 steals this season, has been named a semifinalist for the Naismith Women’s Defensive Player of the Year Award, it was announced Tuesday.
Murray is one of two players from the Southeastern Conference on the list, joining last year’s recipient Teaira McCowan (Mississippi State). The group of semifinalist was selected from the midseason watch list which featured 15 players.
Murray is having a great season for the Wildcats, averaging 12.6 points per game while leading the team with 92 assists and 82 steals. In just 19 games played this season, Murray already had more steals than she had in 32 games played last season (67). The strong defensive performance by Murray has moved her up the career steal lists, sitting seventh all-time in program history with 266 career takeaways. The senior needs just six more steals to enter the program’s top five all-time in steals. She is on pace to become only the fourth player in program history to lead UK in steals all four years of her career.
The native of Odenton, Md., who was named to the SEC All-Defensive Team last season by league coaches, has had some incredible performances this season. Her best performance came against top-25 ranked Missouri, scoring a game-high 21 points with four rebounds, four steals and two assists. Murray scored 19 points in the second half alone vs. the Tigers with all of her steals coming in the final 20 minutes. Murray nearly had a triple double against North Carolina, scoring 23 points with 10 assists, seven steals and six rebounds. Against Auburn, she recorded six steals with 17 points going 7-of-12 from the field.
The quick guard has posted three or more steals in 16 games this season and has accomplished the feat in 47 career games. Murray has led Kentucky in steals in 70 of her 120 career games played, including 17 times this season.
For more information on the Kentucky women’s basketball team, visit UKathletics.com or follow @KentuckyWBB on Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat, or Kentucky Women’s Basketball on Facebook.