Kentucky womens basketball defeats Auburn 90-62 on Rhyne Howard Day


Kentucky Wildcats guard Rhyne Howard (5) celebrates after making a 3-pointer during the UK vs. Auburn womens basketball game on Sunday, Feb. 27, 2022, at Memorial Coliseum in Lexington, Kentucky. UK won 90-62. Photo by Michael Clubb | Staff

Cole Parke

Kentucky womens basketball (15-11) defeated Auburn (10-17) 90-62 on Rhyne Howard Day, concluding its regular season with a six-game win-streak.

Fittingly, Howard herself led all scorers, finishing the night with 32 points, tying her fourth-highest collegiate score, going down as her eighth 30-plus point game at Kentucky.

“What a great day for Rhyne Howard,” Kentucky head coach Kyra Elzy said. “I told her she showed up and showed out for her own day and I’m so proud of her. Her mentality has been in the right place to get us into the position that we’re in. I’m proud of her and the legacy that she leaves at the University of Kentucky and womens basketball.”

Perhaps more impressive than the high point-total was how Howard scored those points, connecting on a school record eight 3-pointers whilst wearing her teammate Blair Green’s jersey.

Green, who was Kentucky’s 3-point specialist in years prior, was unable to play in the 2021-2022 season after a season ending injury sidelined her prior to the season.

“I knew I was going to wear Blair’s jersey for a long time,” Howard said. “I told her not long after she got hurt that I’m wearing her jersey for senior night. That’s my sister, she’s always been there. We’ve lived together for all four years, and she wasn’t able to play my last home game with me but her jersey deserves to be worn.”

Though Howard’s performance was most notable, she was not the only Wildcat to fill out the box score, with two other players also recording double-digit point totals, including junior forward Dre’una Edwards who finished with 25 points in the winning effort.

“We wouldn’t be where we are without Dre Edwards,” Elzy said. “I really challenged her and held her feet to the fire and she has stepped up and answered the call.”

Kentucky took the lead early in the win with a three from Howard, and ultimately never let off the gas, leading over 39 minutes and being tied with Auburn for just 27 seconds.

By the end of the first quarter Kentucky led 30-15, setting a new season high for points scored in a single quarter, with Howard scoring 16 of UK’s points.

“It was a great first quarter,” Howard said. “It was really fun. My teammates kept finding me and I just kept shooting it. If they’re going to keep going in then I’m going to keep letting them fly.”

Kentucky went cold from the floor in the second quarter, scoring just 17 points, but managed to hold Auburn to just 11 points in the period to enter halftime with a 47-26 lead.

The third quarter was once again a big one for the Cats, tying their previous season-high total of points in a quarter with 28 points, extending their lead to 35 entering the fourth quarter.

Though it was outscored in the fourth quarter 22-15, UK led by as many as 39 points in the period before the final margin turned out to be 28.

Howard checked out of the game for her final time inside Memorial Coliseum with just over three minutes left to play to loud applause from the crowd, most of whom were donning ‘Crown Her’ crowns in honor of Howard.

Howard herself even donned a crown on the bench, supporting her team as they closed out the victory.

“It was great seeing those crowns.” Howard said. “‘Crown Her’ has been a thing for a couple of years now, and everyone being a part of it was just great.”

With one final tribute to the star, Howard departed the court inside Memorial Coliseum one final time.

With the win, Kentucky wraps up its regular season 6-0 after its 1-8 skid to start 2022, with a final conference record of 8-8.

Currently listed as the No. 7 seed for the SEC Tournament, Kentucky will face off against Mississippi State in the second round in Nashville.

The Cats will duel the Bulldogs on Thursday March 3, at 7 p.m. EST.