RECAP: Kentucky WBB destroyed 84-58 by No. 5 Tennessee
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RECAP: Kentucky WBB destroyed 84-58 by No. 5 Tennessee

Grant Grubbs01/16/22


Article written by:Grant GrubbsGrant Grubbs


Photo by Eddie Justice | UK Athletics

To be frank, Kentucky Women’s Basketball suffered an embarrassing loss on Sunday afternoon.

The No. 19 (8-5) Kentucky Wildcats lost 84-58 to the No. 5 Tennessee Volunteers (16-1). The loss comes just a week after UK fell to No. 1 South Carolina in a 74-54 defeat. Further, the contest drops Kentucky to 1-2 in conference play and ninth in the SEC standings.

As disappointing as Kentucky’s performance was, Rhyne Howard can’t be blamed. The 6-foot-2 guard dropped 24 points, five rebounds and three assists. She shot 11-21 from the field.

Kentucky’s team statistics are as bad as the score reflects. The team shot 25-57 (43.9%) from the field and 4-18 (22.2%) from beyond the arc. Additionally, the ‘Cats made four of their eight free throws and only received nine points from their bench.

Here’s how the Volunteers dismantled Kentucky.

Rhyne Howard rules the first frame

Howard made her presence felt immediately in this contest. The reigning two-time SEC Player of the Year dropped nine points in just the first period. Head coach Kyra Elzy discussed Howard’s hot start in the postgame press conference.

“We needed to get Rhyne going early. I thought she played great off the ball screen,” Elzy said. “I thought we had some good looks early.”

Kentucky’s defense was doing its part, as well. From the tip, the ‘Cats picked up the Volunteers in a full-court press, forcing four first-quarter turnovers. When Tennessee broke the press, they still struggled to score. The Volunteers went nearly five minutes without scoring a single point.

Kentucky closed out the frame on a 9-2 run to head into the second period with a 17-11 lead.

Slow second for Kentucky WBB

Early in the second period, Howard continued to dominate. In the quarter, Howard reached 14 points. For reference, Howard is averaging 13.7 points per game this season against AP Top 10 opponents.

While Howard was hot, her teammates were freezing cold. Howard went 6-9 from the field in the first half. The rest of the ‘Cats combined for 6-21. The team’s poor shooting led to four and a half minutes without a field goal.

Tennessee capitalized on Kentucky’s painful period, outscoring the ‘Cats by 17 points in the quarter. UK dragged into the halftime break trailing the Volunteers 38-27.

Throwaway third period

The Wildcats received enormous news in the third period: Tennessee’s 6-foot-6 star Tamara Key was out for the remainder of the contest due to an injured right ankle. The loss of Key was a life raft to the ‘Cats that Kentucky refused to grab.

Tennessee throttled Kentucky in the third period, starting the half on a 15-2 run; UK appeared confused on the court. Their confusion showed up in the stats, too. The Wildcats turned the ball over three times in just two minutes.

Elzy refused to watch the embarassing play. The second-year head coach subbed in Nyah Leveretter and Emma King into the contest halfway through the third period. Additionally, Elzy switched Kentucky’s defense into a trapping zone. The new-look caused issues for the Volunteers.

Following UK’s substitutions, the ‘Cats ran off seven unanswered points. Nonetheless, Tennessee gradually figured out the puzzling defense, closing the quarter with a comfortable 64-43 lead.

Despite the final score, Elzy was proud of King and Leveretter’s third-quarter boost.

“Emma and Nyah both came in and played their role. I thought they gave us good energy off the bench,” Elzy said. “Nyah played extremely hard defensively. Emma stepped up and took a charge. They did some little things that we’ve been asking them to do and we’re going to need them down the stretch.”

Failed finish for Kentucky WBB

Not only did Kentucky fail to win the game, but they failed to finish with pride. Kentucky turned the ball over eight times in the final 10 minutes of the contest. To pile on, Tennessee outscored and outrebounded the ‘Cats in the final period.

Kentucky’s defeat was as obvious on the court as it was on the scoreboard. The team appeared dejected, trotting up and down the court. When the dust settled, Kentucky fell 84-58 to the Volunteers.

In the contest, Tennessee dominated the boards, grabbing 21 more rebounds than UK. Furthermore, Kentucky failed to achieve their typical defensive pressure, turning the ball over more than the Volunteers. The ‘Cats failed to even reach double-digit assists.

The team’s lack of passing was reflected in the stat sheet. Jazmine Massengill was the only player other than Howard to score double figures. The veteran guard had 13 points on 6-11 shooting.

Kentucky Women’s Basketball has four days to recover from the harsh loss. On Jan. 20, the Wildcats face the Florida Gators at 7 p.m. in Memorial Coliseum. The game will be broadcast on the SEC Network.

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