Wildcats face Crimson Tide at Coleman Coliseum on Thursday at 8 p.m. ET on SEC Network+
Written by UK staff
LEXINGTON, Ky. – The No. 14 University of Kentucky women’s basketball team, which will play four of its first six Southeastern Conference games on the road, begins a two-game road stretch Thursday when it travels to play Alabama at 8 p.m. ET inside Coleman Coliseum.
Thursday’s game will be streamed on SEC Network+ with Eli Gold and Rick Moody on the call. The action can also be seen through WatchESPN on computers, smartphones or tablets. Darren Headrick will have the call on the UK Sports Network on 630AM WLAP in Lexington. Live stats and free live audio will be available online at UKathletics.com.
Kentucky (12-2, 1-1 SEC) is in the midst of a difficult stretch of games away from the friendly confines of Memorial Coliseum. After ending non-conference play with a challenging game at Cal-Berkeley, UK begins SEC play with four of its first six games away from home starting with its game at top-five ranked South Carolina last week. Sunday’s game against Tennessee was a break from the road for UK but it was brief as the Wildcats will travel twice this week to Alabama and to Florida. Next week, UK plays host to top-10 ranked Texas A&M on Thursday before hitting the road again next Sunday at LSU. Overall, five of UK’s eight games in January will be on the road before the schedule flips in February with UK playing five of its seven league games in Memorial Coliseum.
The Wildcats are coming off an exciting win over top-25 ranked Tennessee on Sunday, defeating the Lady Vols 80-76 inside Memorial Coliseum. The Wildcats were in control most of the game with multiple double-digit leads but Tennessee responded every time to stay within striking distance before UK closed the deal with clutch free throws. Sophomore guard Rhyne Howard was the star in the game, scoring a career-best 37 points, hitting a school-record tying seven 3s while leading the team with nine rebounds, five assists, three steals and two blocks. The strong performance led Howard to be named espnW National Player of the Week and SEC Player of the Week by the league office. Senior guard Sabrina Haines scored 11 points in the game with five rebounds, hitting three 3-pointers.
Howard is having a great season for Kentucky, leading the Wildcats in scoring and rebounding with 22.6 points per game and 5.7 rebounds per game. The sophomore is 46-of-114 from 3 this season and ranks third on the team with 37 assists. Howard ranks high nationally in several categories, including third in total points, fifth in points per game, ninth in 3s made and 10th in 3s per game. Howard is the second player in program history to ever score 25 or more points in four straight games, joining UK All-American Valerie Still, who accomplished the feat in 2980-81. Her 37 points against Tennessee was the most points scored by a UK player against UT ever and the most points scored by a SEC player this season.
Haines is second on the team averaging 10.1 points per game and is also second in 3s made sitting 27-of-61 from long range for 44.3 percent. Junior guard Chasity Patterson is averaging 9.0 points in her three games played this season while senior guard Jaida Roper is averaging 7.9 points and leads the Wildcats with 52 assists. Sophomore guard Blair Green is averaging 6.9 points per game while junior forwards KeKe McKinney and Tatyana Wyatt are averaging 6.7 points and 6.4 points per game, respectively. Wyatt ranks second on the team with 5.1 rebounds per game while McKinney ranks third with 4.6 boards per game.
Alabama (10-5, 0-2 SEC) has started its league slate off with two challenging games, beginning with a 71-60 loss at LSU, who was receiving votes in the national listings, before a 93-78 loss to top-five ranked South Carolina on Sunday in Coleman Coliseum. Prior to league play, the Crimson Tide had been winners of five straight games defeating Colgate, North Carolina, Bethune-Cookman, Radford and Southeastern Louisiana. After starting its season with a 64-61 loss to Hampton, the Crimson Tide traveled to Clemson and earned a 67-54 win over the Tigers and won 10 of their next 12 games with the losses coming to Southern California and Iowa State.
As a team, Alabama is averaging 74.3 points per game while limiting opponents to 63.1 points per game. The Crimson Tide are hitting 43.6 percent from the field and 33.2 percent from 3 with a +7.0 rebounding margin and -0.6 turnover margin. Junior guard Jordan Lewis leads the team with 13.4 points per game adding 4.5 rebounds per game and 24 3s made, while junior forward Jasmine Walker leads the team with 27 3s hit and 6.7 rebounds per game adding 10.5 points per game. Senior guard Cierra Johnson is averaging 9.1 points per game with 4.3 rebounds per game while sophomore guard Megan Abrams has 31 assists and is adding 7.3 points per game.
Kentucky leads the all-time series against Alabama, 31-17, including a 12-10 mark in games played in Tuscaloosa. The Wildcats have won seven straight games against the Crimson Tide, including five straight in Tuscaloosa. UK’s last loss in the series was a 57-55 setback on Jan. 23, 2014. UK’s last loss in Tuscaloosa was a 77-75 loss on Feb. 16, 2012. The Wildcats went on to win the SEC title that season.
Howard scored 23 points and Maci Morris added 17 as 17th-ranked Kentucky beat Alabama 68-53 at Coleman Coliseum last season. Kentucky also got 10 points from Wyatt and six points apiece from Green and Taylor Murray. Turnovers were the key factor in the game. Kentucky forced 24 Alabama turnovers and scored 20 points off those miscues. The Wildcats turned the ball over just eight times and Alabama scored just five points off the UK mistakes. Kentucky went 26-of-56 from the field in the game and 8-of-16 from long range while Alabama was 21-of-47 from the field and 5-of-11 from 3. The Crimson Tide were paced by Abrams, who had 16 points with two 3s while Walker had 12 points and 15 rebounds.