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Memorial Coliseum – Lexington, KY – February 2, 2020
The Gators snapped a five game losing streak and ended the #13 Wildcats’ undefeated record at Memorial Coliseum, 70-62 on Super Bowl Sunday afternoon. The Cats now post a 17-4 (6-3 SEC) record after losing the battle against the Florida Gators (12-10, 3-6 SEC).
Playing without standout guard, Rhyne Howard, for the second game after she fractured a finger during the tough victory against Auburn, the Cats were not able to maintain the first half energy and scoring against the Gators.
The first half was a Cat fiesta, with Chastity Patterson bringing energy and aggressive defense to the court, picking the Gators’ pockets repeatedly and scoring each time. KeKe McKinney also brought some big shots to the court in the first 20 minutes, helping the Cats keep their 10-point lead over the Gators at the half.
The Gators struggled offensively in the first half, with 12 Gator turnovers that led to 12 of 29 of the Cats’ first half points. Guard Jaida Roper and Patterson led the Cats’ scoring with 9 points each. At the same time, the Cats were tough against standout Gator Guard, Lavender Briggs, holding her scoreless in those first 20 minutes. Overall the Gators struggled from the field in the first half, shooting only 24% (6-10) from the field. Zada Williams led Florida’s attack from the field, putting in 7 points; but the Gators netted only one 3-pointer (1-9), thanks to Brylee Bartram’s swish.
The Cats, meanwhile, were cruising in the first half, shooting 36% (10-28) from the field, but also struggled behind the arc (1-9). Jaida Roper and Patterson led the Cats’ scoring with 9 points each, followed by KeKe McKinney’s 7 points. At the half, the Cats were ahead 29-19, but foul trouble looked to be on the horizon for Kentucky, with Tatyana Wyatt, Jaida Haines and McKinney each carrying two fouls into the second half.
Things completely flipped in the second half. Formerly scoreless Lavender Briggs scored her first points, a 3-point swisher in the first minute of the second half and she stayed hot for the rest of the game. Kentucky’s Jaida Haines picked up two quick fouls in that same time frame, putting her on the bench early in the second half with four fouls; and, just like that, the Gators cut the Wildcat lead to five: 31-26.
The worry about foul trouble became a reality for the Cats in the second half, with three Kentucky players in trouble by the end of the third quarter. McKinney and Haines were each holding four personal fouls in their laps as they sat, frustrated, on the bench. Wyatt grabbed another personal foul, giving a her a total of three by the beginning of the fourth quarter. Before the buzzer sounded, Haines and Wyatt would foul out, while McKinney’s and Patterson’s four fouls each held them back from the aggressive defense needed to stop the hot hands from the Gators.
Meanwhile, Gator Guard Lavender Briggs’ shooting hand was on fire, as she scored her first 9 points of the game (all from downtown) early in the first half. By the time the buzzer sounded, Briggs put in another nine points from the field and led the Gator shooting attack with 18. Zada Williams and Nina Richards each added another 12 points to the Gator score, with the team shooting 59% from the field, compared to Kentucky’s 40%. But the 3-point shooting was the tale: 64% for the Gators – 15% for the Cats. The momentum shift was just too much for Kentucky. Florida’s shooting was unmatched and once the Gators caught fire, it was as if the Wildcats were shooting blanks. A frustrating end for Kentucky.
Catch Kentucky’s next home, SEC game on Thursday, February 6 at 7:00 in Memorial Coliseum.