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UK Wildcats Claim first SEC Victory Over Tennessee Volunteers

Memorial Coliseum – Lexington, KY – January 5, 2020

The Wildcats were looking for redemption. Coming off a stinging loss at South Carolina three days ago, UK had their sites set on the Volunteers of Tennessee to find it. And they did not have to look far. While UT scored the first four points of the game, the Cats roared back sinking three 3-pointers in a row and set the stage for a monster game for Wildcat sophomore guard, Rhyne Howard. By the end of the 80-76 Wildcat victory, Howard would break her career high score record, dumping in an amazing 37 points.

Tennessee got the tip and first bucket with freshman center Tamari Key putting the Vols’ first two points on the board. But UK’s KeKe McKinney answered that nicely with the Wildcats’ first bucket – a three-point swish from the left side. Then the Rhyne Howard offensive show began with two quick 3-pointers.  The Vols were slow to warm and it showed in the first quarter. Tennessee was 0-2 from the three point line and only 6-15 (40%) from the field in the first quarter. The Cats were hot in the first quarter, shooting 83.3% from the 3-point line, thanks to Rhyne Howard’s touch. From the field, the Cats were 8-16 (50%).

The Volunteers definitely had the height advantage, with all five starters checking in at over 6 feet; in fact, the Volunteer roster only had one player under 6 foot. UK, at times, looked like jumping beans trying to reach the ball, but ultimately, it did not affect rebounding with the Cats out-rebounding the Vols 19-17 in the first half, but the Volunteer’s size did impact points made in the paint, scoring 12 points under the basket, compared to the Wildcats’ 4 points.

The second quarter took off looking a lot like the first quarter’s end, with the Cats scoring six unanswered points…all from behind the 3-point line. UK’s defense showed its regular hustle with the Cats forcing the Volunteers to turn the ball over 11 times and scoring 18 off of that hustle. Tennessee Junior Forward Rennia Davis began heating up and helped the Vols get back in the game, putting in 15 of her game high 27 points. By half time, the Cats were up 35 – 33.

The Cats sprinted into the second half, pouring in another 9 points. The Vols interrupted that spree with a Rennia Davis layup, but then the Cats’ Rhyne Howard added six more points from behind the arc. Tennessee’s Davis, sophomore guard Jazmine Massengill, freshman guard Jordan Horston and Tamari Key cut the Wildcat lead to end the third quarter 45 -51.

The fourth quarter was a sprint toward the finish line with the Cats and Vols trading buckets and rebounds. Ultimately, the Cats’ stopped a 9-point Volunteer effort to stay in the game. The Wildcats improved their record to 12-2 overall and 1-1 in the SEC.

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