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No. 15 Kentucky Downs Alabama 81-68
POSTGAME NEWS CONFERENCE RECORDINGS
LEXINGTON, Ky. – Rhyne Howard had 16 points, eight rebounds and seven assists as the 15th-ranked Kentucky women’s basketball team beat Alabama 81-68 on Thursday night at Rupp Arena.
Robyn Benton had a season-high 15 points for the Cats, while Dre’una Edwards and Chasity Patterson each had 10.
Kentucky (12-4, 5-3 SEC) hit 30 of 57 (52.6 percent) from the floor in the game, including 10 of 18 (55.6 percent) from behind the arc. The Cats got 37 points from their bench players, compared to just 12 for the Tide. Kentucky had 11 fast-break points, while Alabama had none.
Tatyana Wyatt had a season-high nine points, while Jazmine Massengill added a season-high seven points, in addition to seven assists, for Kentucky.
The game was a back-and-forth affair early in the game, There were six lead changes in the first four minutes of action. That changed when Kentucky got a three from Howard and a runner from Edwards to take an 11-7 lead. After an Alabama free throw, Howard struck again from long range, giving the Cats a 14-8 lead with 4:56 left in the first.
Alabama would score the next six points to tie the game at 14 apiece. That’s when UK got a right-wing three from Treasure Hunt to take a 17-14 advantage. The Tide would get a three from Destiny Rice late in the period to tie the game at 17-17. That’s where the first quarter would end.
Early in the second period, Kentucky grabbed the lead back on a three from Patterson. After an Alabama free throw cut the lead to 20-18, The Cats got consecutive layups from Wyatt – one on a drive and one off a beautiful assist from Howard, to grab a 24-18 lead and force an Alabama timeout.
Those two layups were part of a 14-2 run that gave the Cats a 34-20 lead with 4:55 left in the half, forcing another Alabama timeout. Out of this timeout, the Tide fared much better, scoring the next eight points of the game to cut the UK lead to 34-28 with 1:59 left in the half. But Kentucky, specifically Benton, closed the half by scoring five in a row, and the Cats took a 39-28 lead into the break.
Alabama would score the first three points of the second half to get within single digits. The teams would then exchange free throws and three-pointers before the Cats went on an 8-1 run to lead 51-36 with 2:58 to play in the third.
After Alabama got a Megan Abrams layup, Kentucky scored seven more in a row to lead 60-38. Altogether, it was a 17-3 run, one which broke the game open for the Cats. The Tide would score the final four points of the period, but Kentucky held a 60-42 advantage with 10 minutes left.
Alabama opened the fourth quarter with an 8-2 run to cut the UK lead to 62-50 with 8:18 to play, forcing a Kentucky timeout. The Cats would get a pair of Howard free throws, but the Tide kept coming, with an 8-2 run that cut the UK lead to 66-58 with 4:48 to play.
Kentucky responded by scoring 11 of the next 16 points to establish a 78-63 lead and to put the game away.
Kentucky returns to action on Sunday, hosting Missouri at Memorial Coliseum. Tipoff is set for 1 p.m. ET and the game can be seen on the SEC Network.
THURSDAY, JAN. 28, 2021 / RUPP ARENA AT CENTRAL BANK CENTER – LEXINGTON, KY.
No. 15/14 Kentucky 81, RV/RV Alabama 68 – FINAL
Team Records and Series Notes
- Kentucky is 12-4 on the year, 5-3 in the SEC, while Alabama is 12-3, 5-3 in the league.
- This was the 51st all-time meeting between Kentucky and Alabama in women’s basketball.
- Kentucky leads the series, 34-17, including 10 in a row and 19 of the last 21 meetings.
- UK leads in games played in Lexington, 16-6.
- Kyra Elzy is in her first season as head coach at Kentucky and holds a 12-4 record.
- UK is now 857-552 all-time in its 47th year of varsity women’s basketball.
- Kentucky is ranked No. 15 in the latest AP Top 25 and No. 14 in the USA Today/Coaches Top 25.
- The Wildcats are currently scheduled to return to action Sunday, Jan. 31 at 1 p.m. ET at home against Missouri. The game will be televised on the SEC Network.
- Kentucky used the starting combination of senior guard Chasity Patterson, senior forward KeKe McKinney, junior guard Blair Green, junior guard Rhyne Howard and senior forward Tatyana Wyatt.
- With Wyatt making her first start of the season, it is the first time the Wildcats have employed this starting lineup.
- Howard scored on UK’s first possession – the fifth time this season she has been the first Wildcat to score.
- Dre’una Edwards and Robyn Benton were the first subs for Kentucky – it was the 10th time this season that Benton has been the first sub, fourth time for Edwards.
- Alabama won the tip, marking the 12th time this season that UK has lost the opening tip.
- An evenly played first quarter was appropriately tied, 17-17, at the end of the period. Howard led the Wildcats with eight points.
- Kentucky opened the second quarter with a 17-3 spurt to make it 34-20 and the Wildcats never trailed again.
- Alabama responded with eight straight points but Benton blunted the Tide surge with five straight of her own and the Wildcats went to halftime ahead 39-28.
- Eight Wildcats reached the scoring column in the first half, led by Howard’s eight points and four assists.
- Kentucky opened the second half with the original starting lineup.
- Leading 45-36, the Wildcats went on a 15-2 run that took them to a 60-38 advantage, their largest lead of the game.
- UK ended the period ahead 60-42, with Howard and Benton pacing the scoring with 12 and 10 points, respectively.
- Alabama refused to go away and a strong start to the fourth quarter pulled the Tide to within 62-50, forcing a UK timeout at the 8:12 mark.
- The Tide continued to chip away, cutting it to 66-58 and coaxing another UK timeout at 4:48.
- Ahead 69-61 with 4:11 to go, Massengill made the play of the game, blocking an apparent easy Alabama layup, scooping the loose ball, starting a fast break, and finding Benton in the right corner for a crucial 3-pointer.
- That started a 7-0 run for a 76-61 lead that safely put the game in the hands of the Wildcats with 2:31 remaining.
- UK coasted to the finish at 81-68.
- Kentucky is 29-19 all-time in Rupp Arena.
- After struggling on the backboards Sunday at Tennessee, Kentucky rebounded – literally and figuratively – with a 37-26 edge on the glass.
- Rebounding and defense helped UK blunt Alabama’s fastbreak offense as the Wildcats won fastbreak points 11-0.
- Kentucky made 52.6 percent from the field, its second-highest percentage of the season.
- Kentucky made a season-high 55.6 percent from 3-point range, 10 of 18.
- It is the sixth time this season that UK has made double-digit 3s.
- UK is now 8-0 this season when it hits more than eight 3s in a game.
- UK tied its season high for assists with 23. The Wildcats 8-0 this season when having 16 or more in that category.
- Rhyne Howard had a magnificent all-around effort. Despite frequent double-teams, she led the Cats with 16 points and eight rebounds, while tying her career high for assists with seven.
- Playing on her birthday, Robyn Benton had 15 points, including 3 of 5 from 3-point range, while adding four rebounds.
- She had two huge 3-pointers in the game, late in the second quarter and late in the fourth quarter that dammed Tide runs (see details above).
- Dre’Una Edwards played 13 efficient minutes totaling 10 points and four rebounds.
- It is her 11th double-figure scoring game of the season.
- Jazmine Massengill played an effective floor game with a season-high seven points, a season-best six rebounds, and a season-high-tying seven assists.
- Chasity Patterson chipped in 10 points, her 12th double-figure game of the season, including 2 of 3 from long range.
- She had one steal, improving her nation-leading total to 61.
WOMEN’S BASKETBALL POSTGAME NOTES / ALABAMA AT NO. 15/14 KENTUCKY
THURSDAY, JAN. 28, 2021 / RUPP ARENA AT CENTRAL BANK CENTER – LEXINGTON, KY.
#1, Robyn Benton, Jr., G
On the bounce-back win …
“Well we were really disappointed in the way that we performed, especially rebounding. So, these past couple of practices has been keying in on rebounding. A lot of circle-box and the coaches have been harping on us to rebound. Rebound, rebound, rebound. And us as players, we hold ourselves accountable for rebounding even more.”
On her offensive performance today …
“Yeah, when I missed the first two I was like: ‘You know what? I’ve got to focus more. I’ve got to be down and ready more ready to knock it down. Especially on my birthday.’ I could not have a bad shooting night on my birthday.”
On playing with Rhyne Howard …
“Well, coming from my previous situation it’s pretty good to play with Rhyne Howard. It’s good to have that person on the other wing bring the ball up. She makes life easier for everyone.”
On sharing the ball …
“Speaking of that, the coaches after game-day practice which is shootaround, they showed a highlight tape of us moving the ball around, making the extra pass so that was another one of our efforts we wanted to do tonight.”
On how she will celebrate her birthday tonight …
“Hopefully, I hope no one is gone. I think most of the team is probably gone, but I’m going to go in there and turn on the ox. I’m going to play some music and just dance and enjoy my birthday because you know I can’t go out or anything.”
On Howard has helped her transition to Kentucky and how she involves everyone …
“Well, you know, Rhyne is a real great player. During my process when I was transferring, she was one of the first people to reach out to me. She really wants us to help her so she can help us. It’s a very good relationship. She has a good mind, and she has great vision because she’s 6-2. A great shooter. It’s hard (for opponents) to deal with.”
#10, Rhyne Howard, Jr., G
On the difficulties of adjusting to Rupp Arena offensively …
“We did have to get a little adjusted to it because we don’t usually play in here, but it wasn’t any different from any away game. Because you don’t have as much time to shoot in their gym at shootaround.”
On the opportunity to play in Rupp …
“It’s always big to play in there because I feel like it brings more energy, you know, you can get more fans in there. It’s just overall the energy in there, like I said. Like you said, Coach Elzy said, we did want to get in there and get some extra shots up to get adjusted because like I said, we don’t play in there all of the time.”
On showing physicality on defense after Sunday’s loss …
“We knew defensively we were going to have to step up and play harder than what we have been. We knew that was going to be big and that they were going to try and drive it in and try to put up shots. We knew we were just going to have to all five be on the same page.”
On Benton’s performance and birthday plans …
“She was huge off the bench, but we know she’s always going to come in looking to be that spark that we need. She’s definitely going to hit some big shots when we need her to. We’ll probably do something. We’ll text in the group chat later and get some cake and just hang out.”
On bouncing back tonight from Sunday’s loss…
“(Sunday) It definitely wasn’t a showing that we wanted. Everyone was kind of down after and we knew that we did it to ourselves. We knew that we were going to have to come back and play Kentucky basketball today and all be together and look like one. Especially in the SEC, we knew we couldn’t have two back-to-back losses. We knew this one was going to be big and Alabama is a tough team.”
On taking it to another level at this point in the season …
“I definitely think that fatigue did set in a little bit. But, we’ve got to be able to play through it and stay mentally focused even if our bodies are tired. Me individually, I have to be the leader and get everyone’s energy going and make sure that everyone is staying positive. Try to make some stuff happen, make us stay in shape and just keep us together.”
Head Coach Kyra Elzy
On the stat sheet tonight…
“Absolutely, I would love to have that every game. Any time you have four players in double figures, you shoot 52 percent from the field, 55 percent from the 3. Yeah, we’ll take that every night if we could. Yeah, the stat sheet looked wonderful, but one thing of importance that we have talked about the last three days, rebounding. We outrebounded this team tonight by 11, so, I was so excited. I had this team stand up and give themselves a hand in the locker room. And another big number, 23 assists. So, that just goes to show that we moved the basketball tonight and have better execution offensively.”
On Robyn Benton’s performance…
“I am so proud of Robyn. She makes big plays for us, she is always ready to score offensively. Rhythm shots, she can knock down, but defensively, she hustles. She makes plays that might not show up on the stat sheet. I texted her earlier wishing her a happy birthday and she sends me a text back, it’s going to be a great birthday coach, let’s get this win. I said sounds good, so, Happy 21st birthday to Robyn Benton.”
On starting Tatyana Wyatt tonight…
“You know, I wanted a lineup change. Tatyana brings us the experience. She has a high basketball IQ. When she is feeling her best, she makes our offense more dynamic. I challenged her to step up today, and I think she answered the call.”
On low-post defense improvement…
“Yeah, I thought we did a little bit better tonight. There’s always areas to improve, but we actually pushed out. We didn’t play in between on the double, so when they entered the ball to the low-post, it was an automatic double. We tried to force it to the baseline, where in previous games, we were letting it go across the middle, and I thought we did a better job of scrambling out of it. One thing that I was proud of about out defense, our one-on-one defense is better. They got to the paint, but we didn’t bail them out with a foul, we made them score over defense, build a wall, and gave them score one shot and out, so that was a step forward in our defense.”
On how important the transfers have been…
“You know, our transfers have been really good for us. Robyn Benton, like we talked about previously, she makes big plays for us. But, the thing about the transfers, they have experience. And, there is something about college experience, maybe they haven’t played at Kentucky, but they understand what it takes to play at this level, what it takes to win at this level. Jazmine Massengill, she makes us different on the floor. She can push it. Her basketball IQ is extremely high. Her size and athleticism definitely poses a problem for the opponent. Olivia (Owens), she comes in, she’s physical, she gives us a low-post presence, and then Dre (Dre’una Edwards), is just dynamic offensively. She can score on the inside, she lead the break, she can shoot the 3, so we are very happy that they are at Kentucky. As far as transfers, we are always looking. There is a certain fit that we are looking for at Kentucky, and if it arises that we can get a great transfer, we’re always open to taking it.”
On how Rhyne Howard has helped the transfers get adjusted to Kentucky and how that has helped her own game…
“I was really proud of Rhyne tonight. She struggled in our last game, and you know, we watched film together. As talented as she is, she wants to be coached, she still wants to learn, she still wants to push in order to be the best. Resiliency is something that we have talked about all year. I thought her ability to bounce back after her last game was big. She started the game extremely aggressive, and I think our culture helps our transfers and newcomers. When they can hold each other accountable and teach the transfers and the newcomer what it means to be a Kentucky Wildcat, that’s when you’re really in business.”
On your philosophy for lineup and rotation as the schedule winds down…
“Right now, we’re just going to put people in that can be effective. Obviously, our job is to put players on the floor that will put us in a position to win. So, the best players will be on the floor. But, that just goes to show the talent and the depth that we have on this team. On any given night, anybody can step up for us, and that has played in our favor this season. So, we will continue with it.”
On looking toward the postseason…
“I mean, it’s for coaches as well, one game at a time. You know, this conference is tough. You cannot look ahead. You just have to work on the things for your team. For us, we are working on defense, offensive execution, you know, rebounding, and those are all things that will suit us in the postseason as well.”