The Kentucky Women’s Basketball team was back in action today against the Auburn Tigers as they come back home after last week’s loss at LSU.
The #13 ranked Cats defeat the Auburn Tigers 68-61 in Memorial Coliseum.
“We knew we were in a fight tonight,” says Kentucky head coach Matthew Mitchell on the victory over Auburn. “We did so many things well tonight and then learned an awful a lot about just hanging in there when things were not going well. So really proud to get this victory, it’s a really good one for us.”
Today was #WeBackPat day at Memorial Coliseum as coaches from Kentucky all had purple shirts and custom Nike shoes honoring the late Pat Summit as well as purple ribbons.
The player’s were also remembering someone as well. As America found out yesterday, Los Angeles Laker star Kobe Bryant passed away. As the tributes around the NBA have happened the last 36 hours, the Cats all wore Kobe’s signature shoes that were produced by Nike. With the shoes, many have words written on them to remember Bryant. “Mamba Mentality”, “RIP 24” were written on some of the shoes.
“It’s crazy how much you have a connection with somebody that you don’t even know,” says forward KeKe McKinney on the sudden death of Kobe Bryant yesterday. “He was a legend, a GOAT, he was everything to everybody and so it was a big loss for everyone in the basketball community but that was very tough to hear.”
The game of runs basically can sum up the game. Going into the second half, the Cats held a commanding lead. Auburn never felt defeated throughout the third quarter and came back by scoring 19 and only giving up 7 points total in the third.
As the Tigers were making their comeback, the Cats never gave up the lead. The closest it was throughout the second half was during the 4th where Auburn tied it 51 all with 8:39 left in the game.
What kept that lead throughout the second half was their stellar defense. Even with their scoring droughts sprinkled through the second half, the Cats kept it going through their defensive play as the forced a total of 26 turnovers throughout the game. The Cats capitalized on those turnovers by scoring 25 points off the offensive mistakes from Auburn.
Despite the scoring being non-existent at some points, guards Blair Green and Sabrina Haines lit it up with threes by going 6/12 from downtown combined. Haines also hit back to back shots in the third when the momentum was really shifting towards Auburn’s favor. Down low, KeKe McKinney came through off the bench by scoring 13 points and collecting 8 rebounds. This was McKinney’s first game back after missing some time this month. As she came back, she never missed a beat by playing 29 minutes in the game.
”I think I surprised myself,” says McKinney on finding out how many minutes she actually played tonight. “I didn’t know I played 29 minutes the adrenaline was going but I was still very much tired.”
On the injury front, sophomore guard Rhyne Howard suffered a dislocated pinky at the 3:11 mark of the third. Even with the injury, Howard fought through the pain and kept on going throughout the 4th quarter. As the game was coming down the wire, she stepped up defensively and in the looming seconds of the game ticking down, Howard got a huge steal to seal the game for the Cats.
“It was really hard for me,” says sophomore Rhyne Howard on how tough it was to come out of the game and not being able to be out there with her teammates. “But I knew that my teammates were going to stick it out.”
Mitchell says that she was in a little pain after the game but will get an MRI and see what’s next.
As the Cats advance with a record of 16-3 and 5-2 in SEC, they still have two other games this week. Their next game will be at Missouri on January 30th at 7 P.M. EST.