Kentucky blown out on the road by Tennessee 70-53


Kentucky’s KeKe McKinney boxes out an opponent during the University of Kentucky vs. Wofford women’s basketball game on Saturday, Dec. 19, 2020, at Memorial Coliseum in Lexington, Kentucky. UK won 98-37 Photo by Michael Clubb | Staff.

Barkley Truax

No. 12 Kentucky was dismantled by the No. 25 ranked Tennessee Lady Volunteers 70-53 in Knoxville Sunday.

The Wildcats started slow, beginning the game 1-for-9 from the field (1-of-5 on three-pointers) and trailing 12-3 at the first media timeout. The only points came from Keke McKinney on a corner three-point shot. 

Following the timeout, jumpers from both Rhyne Howard and Robyn Benton helped push the Cats up the board and back to within six points at the end of the first quarter.

Kentucky’s shooting struggles carried over into the second quarter, though. At the half, the Cats shot 28% from the field (9-of-32) and 17% from three (2-12) – but only found themselves down 27-22 at the break.

Howard had five points in the opening half (on 2-of-11 shooting), leading the Cats in scoring through two quarters. Tennessee’s Rae Burrell led all scorers at that point with eight. 

The Lady Volunteers buried Kentucky with an 11-0 run to start the second half. A Chasity Patterson three-pointer ended the run and gave the Cats their first basket five minutes through the quarter. Kentucky didn’t score in the last four minutes of the third quarter either, missing their last six shots. Tennessee took advantage, outscoring the Cats 22-9 in the third and never looking back. 

The fourth quarter was more of the same. Aside from Patterson scrambling around, trying to create shots – Kentucky looked like they gave up.

Tennessee dominated on the interior throughout, score at-will from inside the paint (38 points) and more than doubling Kentucky on the glass (56-25 overall, 18-10 offensively). 

Temari Key led the way for Tennessee, scoring a career-high 19 points on 8-of-10 shooting. The Volunteers shot 48% from the field, while the Cats went 18-for-63 overall (29%) – their lowest shooting percentage in a single game all season.

“It was a disappointing showing,” head coach Kyra Elzy said afterward. “The positive is that we have another game… we learn and we grow.”

Despite the loss, the day was a special one for Elzy: it was her first game as a head coach against her alma mater, with whom she won back-to-back national championships under legendary coach Pat Summitt.

“Anytime I come back to Tennessee, I’m reminded of Coach Summitt,” Coach Elzy after the game,” It’s always an honor to be back.”

The Cats will be back in action once this Thursday, when they host Alabama. The game is the first of the year for the women’s team at Rupp Arena. Tip is set for 6:30 p.m. on the SEC Network.