No. 20 Kentucky earned revenge on the No. 16 Lady Vols last night in Rupp Arena, defeating their border-state rival 71-56 to gain back some momentum this season.
It was not the highest scoring night for Preseason All-American Rhyne Howard, who totaled just eight points on 4/13 shooting from the floor. The Tennessee native did fill up the box score, however, grabbing seven boards, dishing out six assists and snatching seven steals.
“You know, I think the shots didn’t fall. I thought she had some great looks that she can normally hit. Now, she did take some off balance shots which we talked to her about at halftime. But the thing about basketball, some nights the shots will go, some nights they won’t. But why I was proud of her is that she continued to play hard, she continued to engage her teammates, she went and got rebounds, she made some unbelievable passes and got some key steals when we needed, so she impacted the game,” UK Head Coach Kyra Elzy said after the game.
Senior guard Chasity Patterson made up for Howard’s off-night shooting the ball, as she put up a game-high 21 points on 9/16 shooting from the floor (3/5 from three) and added five rebounds. It was her third 20+-point game of the season, and it came at a critical moment as the Cats needed this victory.
“I definitely had a talk with coach before the game. She was telling me to be aggressive. Put your head down and just go at them and score, so that was my mindset coming into the game playing the two. Just going at them and being aggressive, looking for my shots,” Patterson said after the game.
The game was not always in Kentucky’s hands, as Tennessee outscored them 21-9 in the 3rd quarter to gain a 47-46 advantage by the buzzer. In the fourth quarter, however, UK returned the favor by out-performing the Vols 25-9 and pulling away late to claim victory.
“Well, it was just intensity for us. We were trying to get the ball, we were trying to get the rebound and push. So, I think us pushing the ball and get those transition points was big for us. The post did a phenomenal job of boxing out and trying to get the pass and get the ball up early, so I feel like that as the main thing,” Chasity Patterson said. “We kind of slipped away a little bit at the beginning of the third quarter, but we turned it around when we came back out there. It was just energy.”
Following this win, the Cats have now defeated Tennessee in the four of the last five matchups for the first time in school history. They will try to improve their 14-5 overall record on Monday, Feb. 15 at Florida. The game will be at 7 p.m. on the SEC Network.