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Wildcats earn their second win over a ranked foe, defeat Arkansas 75-64 on Thursday
POSTGAME NEWS CONFERENCE RECORDINGS
LEXINGTON, Ky. – LEXINGTON, Ky. – Junior Rhyne Howard scored 24 points and grabbed 10 rebounds as the 13th-ranked Kentucky women’s basketball team beat No. 10 Arkansas 75-64 on Thursday night at Memorial Coliseum.
Howard made nine of her 17 shots from the floor, including four of seven from behind the arc, and added two of three from the line for her 24 points. She also had four assists and a blocked shot in the game.
Kentucky got 10 points and seven rebounds from senior KeKe McKinney and 10 points, including five big points late in the fourth quarter, from junior Blair Green. UK also had nine points apiece from Robyn Benton and Olivia Owens.
The Cats held Arkansas to a season-low 64 points, well below the 91.2 points per game the Razorbacks were averaging entering Thursday’s game.
Kentucky (8-1, 1-0 SEC) struggled to get its offense going early, largely due to turnovers. The Cats had four turnovers in the first five minutes as Arkansas jumped out to a 10-2 lead with 5:32 left in the first period. But, after a UK timeout, the Cats would score seven in a row, including a pair of baskets by McKinney, to get within one, 10-9, with 3:02 left in the first.
However, the rest of the period belonged to the Razorbacks. Arkansas would outscore Kentucky 8-2 down the stretch, including the final five points of the quarter, to lead 18-11 after 10 minutes of play.
Kentucky would score the first five points of the second period on a three from Benton and a jumper from Green. After Arkansas got a three from Amber Ramirez to make it 21-16, Benton hit another three, getting the Cats within two, 21-19. Kentucky tied the game on a Dre-una Edwards layup, then took the lead when Howard hit a tough shot in the lane, giving the Cats a 23-21 lead with 6:54 left in the half.
After Arkansas’ Chelsea Dungee tied the game at 23 apiece, Howard hit a three from the left side to give Kentucky a 26-23 advantage. However, Arkansas then scored six of the next seven points in the game to grab a 29-27 lead with 2:49 left in the half.
That’s when Howard came up with a huge play. She hit a three pointer from the top of the key and was fouled in the process. The All-American would complete the four-point play to give the Cats a 31-29 lead with 1:44 to play in the half. Arkansas answered with a Ramirez three to lead 32-31, but the Cats got layups from Howard and McKinney to lead 35-32 with 35 seconds left in the half. UK would take a 35-34 lead into the break behind Howard’s 17 first-half points.
In the third quarter, Arkansas scored first to take the lead back, but that was the first of seven lead changes in a see-saw period. Kentucky’s first five points of the quarter were scored by Owens, on two layups and a free throw. The latter gave the Cats a 40-39 lead with 5:23 to play in the period.
After Arkansas tied the game at 40 apiece, UK scored on a Chasity Patterson layup and a Benton three to lead 45-40. But the Razorbacks scored the next six and took the lead on a Dungee three with 2:16 to play in the quarter. The momentum swung back the other direction as UK scored the final five points of the period, on a McKinney three and a Howard runner, to take a 50-46 lead after three periods.
Early in the fourth quarter, Kentucky extended its lead on a three-pointer by Jazmine Massengill and two free throws by Edwards, giving UK a 55-46 lead. Arkansas would answer by scoring eight of the next 12 points, cutting the UK lead to 59-54 on a Dungee three with 4:56 to play.
The Razorbacks would get within three after Dungee made consecutive layups, cutting the UK lead to 61-58 with 3:47 to play. Kentucky countered with a Green jumper, which Arkansas answered just seven seconds later with an Erynn Barnum layup, making it 63-60 Cats with 3:19 to play.
Green then connected on a corner three to stretch the UK lead to 66-60. Arkansas got a pair of Destiny Slocum free throws to cut the lead to 66-62, but the Razorbacks would get no closer as Kentucky scored seven straight on their way to an 11-point win.
Kentucky returns to action on Sunday, visiting Mississippi State in Starkville. Tipoff is set for 1 p.m. ET and the game can be seen on ESPN2.
WOMEN’S BASKETBALL POSTGAME QUOTES – NO. 13 KENTUCKY VS. NO. 10 ARKANSAS
THURSDAY, DECEMBER 31, 2020 – MEMORIAL COLISEUM – LEXINGTON, KY.
No. 3 KeKe McKinney, F, Sr.
On how much was getting off to a good start in conference play talked about…
“I mean, it was talked about a lot. We try not to bring in last year, we try to have a confidence booster from last year and that’s about it. We try to learn from last year. But, we have a new team and we had to come out strong and come out with a strong win, which we did.”
On a slow start and if it’s because of the holiday break…
“Definitely. I feel like that is always a factor coming in off of a break – trying to get the game wind back, even if it’s just for two or three days, it’s kind of hard getting back into that. I think that’s why it was a slow start, but I think that we did pick it back up. Also, credit to Arkansas. They came out and they played well, so we just had to get it together and get it rolling.”
On talking to Robyn Benton in-game and being a vocal leader on the floor…
“Yeah, so, it was in the heat of the moment. Robyn, she had a great stop, and to us it wasn’t a foul, but the referees called it, and you know, in the heat of the moment, emotions are high and everything, and she was just going. We were up and we didn’t need anything to stop us, so I kind of just grabbed her mouth to be like, alright, just chill out, we got it, just calm down. I was just trying to encourage her to calm down and get back in it because we were winning and we didn’t need anything to affect that. So, I was basically just calming her down because she was just going, and sometimes you’ve just got to get it. But, we are all comfortable enough to where you can do things like that.”
On the offense down the stretch that help put the game away…
“Yeah, so, we all knew everyone was going to key in on Rhyne (Howard). That’s going to happen all the time with all of our games because she is just a great player. So, we knew she was going to produce and do what she needs to do, but we also needed other people to step up and produce, especially off the bench, and that’s where I felt like Robyn (Benton) and Olivia Owens, they did a really great job coming off the bench and putting points on the board, and also Jazmine (Massengill). She helped a lot. And then, you know, other people on our team, we are all talented, we all can score, so when they key in on Rhyne, that gives other people a chance to show what they can do. that’s what we did today.”
#10 Rhyne Howard, G, Jr.
On her performance tonight …
“I definitely felt in rhythm. I was getting a lot of good looks coming from awesome screens set by my teammates or just creating for myself. I did feel comfortable, especially with how hard we prepared for them and how well we came together at the end.”
On UK’s defense down the stretch and on Blair Green …
“Defensively, it was big for us. These past two days, all we did was pretty much focus on defense because we knew if we did our job on defense it would translate to the offensive end and we knew that we could get our shots and get points for ourselves. And Blair, when I saw Blair open, every time, I just threw it to her, I just knew she was going to hit it. I was cheering before she even shot it. But that’s what she does. She’s going to hit those shots when we need her to hit them.”
On if UK wore Arkansas down late in the game and on Robyn Benton …
“I definitely do think we did wear them down a little bit because in our offense, we do a lot of movement and we were forcing them into quick shots on defense and getting them out of their game and out of control and putting the pressure on them and making sure we were controlling the pace and doing everything we needed to do. And we were making runs, Robyn was always there, she was hitting the shots we needed her to hit. She was a big spark for us coming off the bench tonight.”
On limiting Arkansas’ three-point shooting …
“We knew that they were going to look to take a lot of threes, so we were just focusing on forcing them into driving because we were going to have help. We worked a lot on one-on-one defense and making them score over us. So as long as they weren’t getting easy looks, then we were doing our job correctly.”
On Arkansas head coach Mike Neighbors talking about UK’s new “pieces” to the team …
“Those added pieces are what hold us together. It’s not a one-on-five game. A lot of people don’t recognize them for what they’re doing but it’s a lot. I give all the credit in the world to them. I would run through a wall for them. If I didn’t have them, we wouldn’t be where we are today. If (Neighbors) didn’t expect that from them, then just keep doing that and they’re just going to keep proving everybody wrong because they are going to come out and play regardless of what anybody’s expecting.”
Head Coach Kyra Elzy
On if tonight was a “signature win” …
“Well, thank you, but every win in the SEC is a big win. We’ve talked about it. Wins in the SEC are like gold. You have to try to protect home and go on the road and steal some. So, every win is a signature win when you play in the best league in the country, which is the SEC.”
On UK’s defense down the stretch …
“I was so proud of our team. We really have practiced and challenged them with our one-on-one defense and building a wall, making people score over you and we wanted to protect the three-point line. And tonight they locked in and we did that.”
On takeaways from tonight that can be applied to the next three games …
“Great question. One, we’ve got to continue with the defensive intensity. We’ve got to be consistent for 40 minutes like we were today. And there are still areas we have to improve on but I thought, consistently, we played hard for 40 minutes. Also, our offense. I thought we got stagnate at times but I was so proud of us, we were 10-for-20 from the three-point line. But another thing we can take away, we have really challenged our bench to step up, bring energy and be productive. And tonight, Robyn Benton, she came in and made some big shots early for us to get us going. Olivia Owens, I thought she came in, made some big plays around the rim. And how she handled the ball screen when she had been struggling with that. So it was great to see her do her job tonight. So the bench is going to be really big for us down the stretch.”
On how big would a 2-0 start in conference play be…
“I mean that would be huge, but right now we will celebrate this victory and enjoy this one, just for a little while longer. When we wake up tomorrow, we’ll go to Mississippi State, but they’re well coached by Nikki McCray, and they’re a tough team and it’s another ranked team, so we will be in another dog fight again on Sunday.”
On KeKe McKinney grabbing Robyn Benton’s face and holding her accountable…
“I actually missed it during the game, however I watched the video and I loved it because they love each other and that’s one thing I love about this team. We have great team chemistry. They are sisters, they love each other, and they want to make sure that we’re holding each other accountable, which is one of our winning attributes. So, kudos to KeKe, she is a leader of our team. You know, I’ve talked to them about not talking to the referees and making sure we stay focused on the job that we need to do, so I’m glad that KeKe reeled her back in and held her accountable.”
On if Kentucky has a team identity…
“You know, it’s still early, but our identity is still the same. We have to be one of the toughest teams, we have to be one of the most resilient teams, and we’ve got to continue to lay our heart on the floor on both ends, but I think we will continue to be a team. No one is bigger than this team, and as you can see, different people have stepped up in all the games. So, tonight, Blair Green, I mean she made some huge baskets for us, but more than the baskets, I am so proud of her defense. I have been on her about her defense and I have challenged her, make someone score over you, and for her to level the ball off tonight, make people score, getting some blocked shots, so they are taking away what we’re doing in practice and it’s good to see them transferring it over to the games.”
UK ATHLETICS COMMUNICATIONS AND PUBLIC RELATIONS
WOMEN’S BASKETBALL POSTGAME NOTES
NO. 13 KENTUCKY VS. NO. 10 ARKANSAS
THURSDAY, DECEMBER 31, 2020
MEMORIAL COLISEUM – LEXINGTON, KY.
No. 13 Kentucky 75, No. 10 Arkansas 64 – FINAL
Team Records and Series Notes
- Kentucky is 8-1, 1-0 in the SEC on the year, while Arkansas is 9-2 and 0-1 in the league.
- This was the SEC opener for both teams.
- Kentucky is now 17-22 in SEC openers since the 1982-83 season.
- This was the 39th all-time meeting between Kentucky and Arkansas in women’s basketball. This was the third meeting between the two teams with both ranked in the AP Top 25 and the first with both in the top 15.
- UK leads the all-time series 25-14, including a 16-3 mark in games played in Lexington.
- UK’s last home loss to Arkansas was Feb. 13, 2003 when the Razorbacks earned a 70-60 win inside Memorial Coliseum.
- UK is 2-6 against ranked Arkansas teams.
- Kyra Elzy is in her first season as interim head coach at Kentucky.
- Elzy is now 8-1 as head coach of Kentucky.
- UK is now 853-549 all-time in its 47th year of varsity women’s basketball.
- The Wildcats have had great success inside Memorial Coliseum through the years, sitting 468-159 all-time.
- UK is 7-0 at home this season.
- Kentucky is ranked No. 13 in the latest AP Top 25 and No. 11 in the USA Today/Coaches Top 25.
- UK is 23-6 all-time as the No. 13 team in the nation.
- This was the 25th time in program history that UK has defeated a top-10 ranked foe. This is the first since UK took down No. 6 Mississippi State 73-62 on Feb. 16, 2020 inside Memorial Coliseum.
- UK is 2-1 this season against ranked teams, defeating then-No. 13 Indiana and now No. 10 Arkansas – both at home.
- The Wildcats will return to action Sunday at 1 p.m. ET against No. 12 Mississippi State in Starkville, Miss.
- UK was initially scheduled to play at Tennessee on Sunday but that game was postponed due to COVID-19 issues within the UT program. No reschedule date has been announced.
- The reschedule makes UK’s start to league play even tougher than originally thought as now the Wildcats will start the league slate with back-to-back-to-back-to-back games against the only four teams in the league that are currently ranked in the AP Top 25.
- Following Sunday’s game at Mississippi State, UK will travel to No. 9 Texas A&M next Thursday before hosting No. 5 South Carolina next Sunday inside Memorial Coliseum.
- If all four teams stay in the top 15 of the AP Top 25 when UK faces them, it will be the first time in program history that UK has played four straight games against top-15 ranked foes.
- Kentucky used the starting combination of senior guard Chasity Patterson, senior forward KeKe McKinney, junior guards Blair Green and Rhyne Howard, and sophomore forward Dre’una Edwards.
- This was the sixth time this season that UK has used this starting combination. UK is 5-1 with this starting combination.
- Rhyne Howard scored first for Kentucky in the game – the team-leading third time this season she has been the first Wildcat to score.
- Robyn Benton was the first sub for Kentucky. It was the team-leading fifth time this season that time this season she has been the first sub.
- Arkansas won the tip, marking the fifth time this season that UK has lost the opening tip.
- It was a first quarter of runs for both teams after trading baskets to start the game. Arkansas was first with a 8-0 run, followed by a UK timeout and a 7-0 UK run to make it 10-9 Arkansas early. However, the Razorbacks ended the first quarter on a 8-2 run to grab a 18-11 lead heading into the second 10 minutes.
- Kentucky started the second quarter on a 12-3 run to grab its first lead of the game at 23-21 just over six minutes to go in the second quarter.
- UK limited Arkansas to 34 first-half points which is the fewest points scored by the Razorbacks in the first half of a game this season.
- It was also the second time Arkansas had been held to less than 20 points in each of the first two quarters of a game this season. Baylor also accomplished the feat.
- Arkansas was held to a season-low 64 points in the game – their previous season low was 79 points against SMU.
- It was the first time this season that Arkansas had not scored 20 points in any quarter.
- Arkansas entered the game hitting 10.1 3-pointers per game, with UK limiting the Razorbacks to 5-of-21 from 3 in the game.
- The five 3s made tied the fewest 3s made by Arkansas this season in a game.
- UK is 7-0 this season when its opponent makes five or less 3s.
- In the final two minutes of the game, Kentucky went on a 9-2 run to seal the victory.
- Kentucky went 29-of-58 in the game for 50 percent from the field.
- It was the third time in the last four games that UK has shot over 50 percent from the field.
- UK is 4-0 this season when it shoots over 50 percent.
- UK limited Arkansas to 39 percent from the field and is now 8-0 this season when it limits an opponent to 50 percent shooting or less.
- UK is 8-0 this season when limiting opponents to 70 points or less.
- Kentucky had 22 second-chance points in the game, which was a season high for the Wildcats.
- The Wildcats had a season high eight blocks in the game.
- Kentucky had 15 assists in the game and has had 15 or more assists in three straight games.
- Junior guard Rhyne Howard scored a season-high 24 points, going 9-of-17 from the field and 4-of-7 from 3 with 10 rebounds, four assists and one block.
- Howard has made 177 career 3s, which ranks tied for fourth most in school history with A’dia Mathies.
- Howard has 1,275 career points as a Wildcat, which ranks her 21st all-time in scoring at UK.
- She needs 43 points to tie Bria Goss for 20th.
- This was the second double-double of the year for Howard and the 13th of her career.
- In 66 career games, Howard has …
- Hit at least one 3 in 59 career games, including six times this season.
- Hit three or more 3s in 31 career games, including five times this season.
- Scored 10+ points in 58 career games, including six times this season.
- Scored 15+ points in 47 career games, including four times this season.
- Scored 20+ points in 33 career games, including twice this season.
- Led UK in scoring in 40 career games, including twice this season.
- Led UK in rebounding in 35 career games, including three times this season.
- Junior guard Blair Green was huge in the game with 10 points, going 4-of-8 from the field and 1-of-3 from 3 with three blocks.
- The three blocks were a career high for Green.
- Eight of her 10 points were scored in the fourth quarter, including a huge 3 late in the game.
- Senior forward KeKe McKinney scored 10 points with seven rebounds in the game.
- McKinney now has 94 career blocks ranking ninth most all-time in program history.
- Junior guard Jazmine Massengill scored five points points with three blocks in the game.
- The five points is a season high for Massengill.
- All five points came in the fourth quarter, going 2-of-3 from the field with a 3.
- All three of her assists were also in the fourth quarter.