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KeKe McKinney scored 12 points with four rebounds and two assists in win over Govs  

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Rhyne Howard tied a career high with 29 points as the 15th-ranked Kentucky women’s basketball team crushed Charlotte 86-39 on Wednesday at Memorial Coliseum.

Howard made 10 of her 18 shots from the floor, including two of seven from behind the arc, while making seven of eight from the free throw line to account for her 29 points, the same number she scored against Southern last season.

Sabrina Haines had 16 points for the Cats and Jaida Roper added 10. Kentucky made 29 of its 62 shots (46.8 percent) from the field, including 10 of 22 (45.5 percent) from behind the arc. The Cats also made 18 of 23 (78.3 percent) from the free throw line. Meanwhile, Charlotte hit 18 of its 56 shots (32.1 percent), including just two of 17 (11.8 percent) from three-point range. The 49ers made only one of four at the charity stripe.

Kentucky (8-0) forced 22 Charlotte turnovers and scored 24 points off those miscues. The Cats had only eight turnovers in the game, and the 49ers converted those into eight points.

Kentucky got off to a quick start, hitting four of its first six shots from the field, including two of two from behind the arc, to grab a 10-0 lead, forcing a Charlotte timeout with 6:51 still remaining in the first period. The Cats would hit their first four shots from behind the arc, and seven of their first ten overall, to build a 23-5 lead.

The Cats would end the first quarter hitting 10 of 16 from the floor and five of seven from behind the arc, outscoring Charlotte 29-9 through 10 minutes of play. Howard had 13 first-quarter points for Kentucky. The 29 points mark Kentucky’s highest-scoring quarter of the season.

The onslaught continued early in the second quarter, with Kentucky scoring the first seven points of the period to take a 36-9 advantage. Charlotte would score the next five to cut the lead to 36-14. The Cats would stretch the lead back to 26, but the 49ers scored six in a row, and appeared to be heading to the locker room down just 20. But Howard was fouled with 0.7 seconds left in the half, and she converted two of three free throws, giving the Cats a 44-22 lead at the half. Howard had 19 points in the game’s first 20 minutes.

In the third quarter, Kentucky made just one of its first five shots, and Charlotte was able to cut the lead to 46-27. Later in the period, Kentucky got things going offensively and assembled a 14-2 run, including eight in a row, to lead 60-29. Kentucky would outscore Charlotte 18-11 in the period and would take a 62-33 lead into the fourth quarter.

Kentucky started the fourth quarter on a 6-0 run to lead 68-35. The Cats would continue to stretch its advantage in the fourth quarter, closing the game on a 14-2 run to establish the biggest lead of the game, 47 points, at the end of the contest.

Kentucky returns to action on Sunday, hosting Samford at Memorial Coliseum. Tipoff is set for 2 p.m. and the game can be seen on SEC Network Plus.

For more information on the Kentucky women’s basketball team, visit UKathletics.com or follow @KentuckyWBB on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

Kentucky Head Coach Matthew Mitchell

Opening statement…

“A good performance by the team today. I’m proud of them. We got off to a great start, shot the ball really great, we have been working on that since June. And it’s been a little rocky to start the season, but I thought we played up to our capability and I’m really happy with that. We did really good in that first quarter, that put Charlotte in a tough position, a tough team and I’m sure they’ll have a great season. But we’re extremely happy to win this game today.”

On setting the tone…

“I think we set the tone offensively. I don’t think it ever hurts for shots to go down early and I think that definitely energized our group. The thing that I felt like put them out of rhythm the most was we did a really nice job at what they were trying to get done on offense. We also were very sharp defensively and that helped a tremendous amount. But that’s what we are working on, every time at tip we are trying to come out focused and paying attention to the details. And I thought we did a really good job of that in today’s game.”

On largest scoring margin…

“Well we are trying to improve every day, without question that’s something that we’re trying to be intentional about. We certainty know we aren’t a finished product at this point but just trying to get a little bit better each day. We have a very tough season up ahead so I’m happy we were able to have a great start today. But I thought we were able to sustain some defensive intensity throughout a real large part of the game.”

On a shooting team…

“It’s very important for them to see results during the game. We shoot a bunch of them and we think we have some good 3-point shooters. It was a really good day for us from the 3-point stripe and there’s going to be some games coming up where we’ll need to do that. The good thing about us is that we definitely have some guards that can break people down and post players that can shoot the 3. That creates some open looks, we can push the ball and create some open looks in transition. We can create some open looks offensively. It’s going to be very important throughout the season, so was really happy to see that.”

On his tolerance…

“Well you know sometimes, I thought that we missed a layup and then the next time we came down it seemed like for the first time in the game we started forcing some shots. I always think that good offense leads to good transition defense because you keep the floor organized and you know where people are. If the person in the back can see the shot developing and see the offense developing, you can see the floor developing. Forcing some shots, turning it over, on the first pass when the floors not balanced that leads to some of those plays. I thought we did a good job of coming in and getting settled back down, it was a lot better.”

On Rhyne diversifying the offense…

“Well, I think that makes her really special because she is so versatile. She’s, I think, gaining confidence around the basket and getting better scoring in the paint, and we all know what just a tremendous shooter she is from the perimeter. I thought she played her best game today just from a mindset standpoint. I thought she was very aggressive to start the game. I think that definitely encourages the rest of the team, and I think they feed off of that. So, I don’t think you can understate that at all. She did a great job.”

On the number of 3s you want Rhyne to account for…

“If she’s open, I want her to shoot it. So, if she’s open one-thousand times I want her to take one-thousand 3s. She shoots 3s when she’s on a roll like a lot of people shoot layups. So, if she’s open from the 3, I want her to take that shot.”

On what he is happiest with and where they need improvement…

“Well, I am happy that we continue to improve, but I just want us to improve more. I guess I am a little greedy right now. I just think that we are going to have to be a real sound, solid, a fundamentally sound basketball team to reach our potential. I don’t think that we are just dominant in any other area other than Rhyne Howard can be a dominant player, but our team really needs to play well together and we just can’t have a lot of breakdowns in our fundamentals because we can’t make it up with say tremendous shot blocking or crazy speed, but we have enough of everything if we’ll really play hard and play together with great fundamentals then I think we are dangerous every night. So that’s just the thing that I am trying to impress upon the team is that I don’t think we have arrived, I think we just have to grind in practice every day trying to get a little bit better. I think we are showing capability in a lot of areas, but we have got to stay focused and we have to pay attention to the details, and I think that is the biggest challenge we face right now.”

On Sabrina’s (Haines) contributions today…

“Yeah, she did a nice job today offensively, really had an efficient day, shot the ball great, and made some plays there. I loved her hustle on defense. I thought she really hustled on defense and made some plays there. She is just doing a good job for us. Three assists and no turnovers, that’s a great stat for us. So, we’re really happy with how Sabrina is playing right now. She just needs to keep working hard and improve as well just like we always do.”

On Sabrina’s personality for the team…

“It’s good. She has a lot of energy and enthusiasm. It definitely gets the team fired up, and we saw that last year when she was on the bench during her transfer year. So, she has that personality and it’s real positive for us.”

On filling Memorial Coliseum with elementary school kids for every game…

“It’s a good marketing strategy. We might just start tipping off at 11 a.m. all the time. If we played like that, it would be well worth it I can tell you that.”

Kentucky Student Athletes

#14 Tatyana Wyatt, F, Jr.

On 3-point shooting for the rest of the season…

“I believe so, we work on our shots in practice, game-like shots, so I think being able to transfer it to the game is good for us, and today I think it showed.”

On seeing a teammate hustle during play…

“I think it says a lot. We pinpoint and talk a lot about hustling and diving on the floor to get loose balls and charges. We want to out hustle our opponents through all 40 minutes of it.”

#10 Rhyne Howard, G, So.

On making it hard for opponents to stop her…

“I think my height plays a factor, I’m able to jump over the top of people and get my shot off.”

On what has helped her in practice…

“I think going against the guys help, they’re a lot quicker than what most of our players are going to be, so they’re just helping to prepare me to get my shots off quicker and to control my pace.”

On coach letting her shoot 3-pointers…

“I think everyone here knows I like to shoot behind the yard. It just builds my confidence even more that he’s allowing me to do it whenever because my teammates help me get open all the time and I know they can get me the right pass so I can hopefully knock it down”

On coach taking her out of the game…

“I wanted to stay in, but I see where he’s coming from, so I just listen and be coachable.”

#1 Sabrina Haines, G, R-Sr.

On Coach Matthew Mitchell’s advice after the first quarter…

“I think we got on a run the first quarter, so I think he just wanted us to lock in and get back to the basics that we’ve been doing in the first quarter and we could build the lead on. When we came out for the third quarter it took us a little bit to get started, and then we put the pedal to the medal and ran up the score.”

On the blowout win…

“We liked winning by a lot, I think it shows our improvement as a team. This was a very good team, and they’ve beat some people before that plated us, so the fact that we could run up the score a bit shows our improvement.”

On improvement…

“We definitely have a lot of room for growth. It’s very early in the season, and we’re a veteran team so we know that we have to get a lot better before we get into Southeastern Conference schedule or even get to the next teams after this. It’s continuous improvement and knowing that every day we want to get better – games and everything.”

On being comfortable on the court…

“I think I’m just getting more comfortable. Sitting out two years really does a lot for you so being able to be around my teammates and build chemistry every day has really helped me a lot. They do whatever they can to put me in the best situations and I want to do whatever to put them in better situations. I love playing here and the chemistry is getting better.”

On Rhyne Howard…

“She’s such a dynamic scorer, playing against her in practice and all last year I always wanted to guard her, I knew she would help me get better and the fact that she could score. The fact that she’s getting better with finishing, it’s just impressive to me that she is also a great teammate and passer and person. Just the fact that she’s able to do all that and only a sophomore, I’m excited to see her grow.”

Charlotte Head Coach Cara Consuegra

Opening statement…

“Our team has played really well this season, but certainly this was a step back for us. Kentucky is great team there is no doubt about it. This was just a different level for us and unfortunately we weren’t as prepared as I had hoped we would be. Disappointed because I thought this would be a great opportunity for us to really compete against one of the best teams in the country and I’m disappointed for Kentucky because we didn’t really give them a game to help them get better either, but things like that happen sometimes. We will regroup and understand that the most important thing is we have to learn and grow and continue to get better, but certainly a disappointing afternoon for us.”

On Rhyne Howard in the first quarter…

“Well we had absolutely nobody to match up with her, which clearly we knew coming into this game, which is why we felt to play them some zone and be able to provide a little bit of help and I think I probably underestimated not just her ability, but the team’s ability to rise up and make shots and so I felt like we were there, but just the ability in particular, Howard to rise up and make shots even though you have a hand up is not enough for a player at this level-at this elite of a level. I think she was able to get some of those shots, the team was able to make some of those shots and it really got us on our heels and we didn’t play defensively the way we are capable of playing.” 

On Kentucky’s quick start to begin the game…

“One of our keys we wanted to try and control the tempo because I think if you allow them to take and make quick shots, allow them to get turnovers within their man pressure, if you allow them to get shots off, they are going to make a lot of those shots and so that was one of our keys to try to control the tempo and for us to get ball reversals and not take quick shots, which would just play into their hands, I don’t think that we did that. Credit to them, they were able make some great shots early on us zone, but I don’t think we did what we needed to do to try and control the tempo a little bit better and that first quarter just got away from us.”

On if this Kentucky team can make a deep run in March …
“I think so. They’re not comparable to anybody we’ve played, and we’ve beaten two Power Five teams this year in Wake Forest and Boston College. We beat Tulane who is a really good team in the AAC. They don’t compare to Kentucky. I think what makes Kentucky so good is that they are good at every position. So obviously, Rhyne Howard is one of the best players in the country, we knew that coming into the game. But I think what makes them so good is that you’ve got players at every position that can score, that can defend. They were able to switch every position with us and just stay in front of us. There’s not a lot of teams in the country that have that ability, especially with their bigs, to stay in front of the ball and I think that’s what really makes them special.”

On the education day crowd …
“It was fun. We’ve played in these types of environments before. We have a big education day game at Charlotte ourselves. We were looking forward to that opportunity. It’s fun to play in those types of environments. In women’s basketball, you don’t always get to play with a full arena. So we were looking forward to that opportunity and we are glad that we were a part of it.”

No. 15 Kentucky 86, Charlotte 39 – FINAL

Team Records and Series Notes

  • Kentucky is 8-0, while Charlotte is 6-2.  
    • The Wildcats are now 6-0 at home this season.
    • UK is 175-40 at home under Matthew Mitchell, including 167-31 in Memorial Coliseum.
  • Kentucky is 831-540 all-time, including 481-173 all-time at home.
  • The Wildcats have had great success in Memorial Coliseum, sitting 454-157 all-time in the historic building.
  • This was the second all-time meeting between Kentucky and Charlotte in women’s basketball.
    • The series is now tied 1-1.
  • Matthew Mitchell is in his 13th season as the head coach of the Wildcats.
    • Mitchell is 319-154 overall in his career and 289-125 during his tenure at Kentucky.
    • UK is 54-22 all-time in the month of December under Matthew Mitchell. 
  • Kentucky is ranked 15th in the latest Associated Press Top 25.

Team Notes

  • Kentucky used the starting combination of sophomore guard Rhyne Howard, senior guards Sabrina Haines and Amanda Paschal and junior forwards KeKe McKinney and Tatyana Wyatt.
    • The Wildcats have used this starting combination in every game but one this season and are 7-0 with this starting five.
    • UK won the tip for the seventh time this season.
    • This was the fourth time Howard has won the tip for UK.
    • Howard also scored first for UK, hitting a 3 in the early seconds of the game. She has been the first Wildcat to score three times this season.
  • The Wildcats started the game on a 10-0, marking the most consecutive points for UK to start a game this season.
    • The run ended at the 6:00 mark as Charlotte hit a 3 pointer.
  • Kentucky ended the first quarter with a 29-9 lead, marking the most points it has scored in the first quarter of a game this season and the second most scored in any quarter this season.
    • UK hit five 3s in the first quarter and were 10-of-16 from the field overall.
  • UK’s offensive momentum continued to the second quarter as UK started the stanza on a 7-0 run that was part of an overall 13-0 run. That run was stopped by a Charlotte and-one.
  • The Wildcats have scored 40 or more first-half points in each of their last four games.
    • UK has had a 20+ point lead in each of the last four games.
    • Charlotte went a 6-0 run late in the first half to cut into UK’s lead before two Rhyne Howard free throws ended the scoring in the first half.
    • After its hot shooting in the first half, UK went 6-of-16 from the field in the second quarter.
  • Kentucky only committed two first-half turnovers, while forcing Charlotte into 10 first-half turnovers and scoring 14 points off those miscues.
  • UK forced 22 turnovers and scored 24 points off those miscues.
    • UK has forced 20 or more turnovers in every game this season and scored 20+ points off turnovers in every game but one this season.
  • The Wildcats had 16 assists and have recorded 15 or more assists in each of the last four games.
  • UK hit 10 3s in the game and have hit 10 or more 3s in three of the last four games.
  • Kentucky has scored 20+ points in 11 of its last 16 quarters of play.
  • UK held Charlotte to a season-low 39 points while the Wildcats scored a season-high 86 points.
    • UK has scored 80 or more points in three straight games for the first time since the 2015-16 squad accomplished the feat five straight times in late November and early December of 2015.
    • Kentucky is now 352-23 all-time when it scored 80 or more points, including 106-5 under Mitchell.
  • UK is now 103-9 in regular-season non-conference home games under Matthew Mitchell.
  • The Wildcats shot a higher percentage from the floor than Charlotte and are now 158-17 under Mitchell when they can shoot a higher percentage from the floor.
  • Kentucky went 18-of-23 from the free-throw line in the game, which was a season high in makes. UK’s 78.3 percent from the line was the second highest this season.

Player Notes

  • Sophomore guard Rhyne Howard tied a career-high with 29 points in the game, adding seven rebounds and four steals.
    • Howard has hit at least one 3-pointer in 35 of her 40 career games.
    • Howard has scored 10 or more points in 33 of her 40 career games.
    • Howard has scored 20 or more points in 14 of her 40 career games.
    • Howard has led UK in scoring in 22 of her 40 career games.
    • Howard has made three or more 3s in 14 of her 38 career games.
    • Howard has led UK in scoring six times this season.
    • Scored 19 points in the first half and has scored 15 or more first-half points in three games this season.
    • Her 29 points were the most by a UK player since Maci Morris scored 31 against Morehead State last November.
    • Led Kentucky with four steals, marking the fourth time this season she has led UK in steals.
    • Led UK with seven rebounds, marking the third time this season she has led UK in rebounds.
  • Senior guard Sabrina Haines scored 16 points with five rebounds and two steals in the game. 
    • Haines has hit a 3-pointer in every game this season.
    • Haines went 3-of-4 from the 3-point line continuing her SEC-leading 3-point percentage this season.
    • Haines has hit three or more 3s in three games this season and seven times in her career.
    • This was the fifth double-figure scoring game for Haines this season and the second 15+ performance of the year.
  • Senior guard Jaida Roper scored 10 points with four assists. 
    • Roper has scored 10 or more points in three straight games for the second time in her career.
  • Senior guard Amanda Paschal recorded a team-best five assists in the game and has now led UK in assists four times this season.
  • Junior forward Tatyana Wyatt returned after missing the last game due to illness and recorded nine points with five rebounds.
    • Wyatt hit a 3-pointer in the game, which was the second make this season from long range.
    • Wyatt has scored seven or more points in every game but one this season.
    • Wyatt has five or more rebounds in every game but one this season. 

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