Kentucky routs Arkansas 78-55; secures fourth straight win in SEC play


Kentucky Wildcats guard Jazmine Massengill (3) and Kentucky Wildcats guard Rhyne Howard (10) jump up to celebrate the three pointer scored before the half during the UK vs. Presbyterian College women’s basketball game on Tuesday, Nov. 9, 2021, at Memorial Coliseum in Lexington, Kentucky. UK won 81-53. Photo by Amanda Braman | Staff

Cole Parke

Kentucky womens basketball (13-11) defeated Arkansas (16-10) 78-55 on the road, securing its fourth-straight win in conference play on Sunday.

The four-game SEC win streak ties Kentucky’s best win streak entirely in conference play since Jan. 2020.

Kentucky’s win came in big part thanks to senior guard Rhyne Howard, who finished the game scoring 29 points with 10 rebounds and two assists in 34 minutes played.

Howard led the Wildcats early, scoring 11 points in the first quarter alone and going 3-3 from beyond the arch in the period.

“Somebody had to get hot before they got hot, and I decided that would be me,” Howard said after the win. “We all tell each other to shoot the ball if we’re open, and they weren’t really playing any defense. Everyone had so many open looks and we were just capitalizing on that.”

Howard’s three made shots from deep in the first quarter contributed to what would ultimately be 30 points from beyond the arch for the Wildcats, with the team going 10-22 from the 3-point line.

Arkansas, who had entered the game as one of the better 3-point shooting teams in womens basketball, was held to just four made threes, finishing the game 4-18 from beyond the arch.

“Rhythm threes have always been great for this team,” Kentucky head coach Kyra Elzy said. “It’s good to see them going in. We shot here last night and we practiced really well, so I think a lot of it is just confidence.”

While junior Dre’una Edwards failed to continue her three-game streak of scoring 20 or more points, the forward still performed well on the day, finishing with 17 points and 13 rebounds, the second double-double of the game for the Wildcats.

“If I tell Dre to go get a bucket, she’s going to go get a bucket,” Howard said about her teammate. “We trust her to make big plays like she has been recently and the ball is going to keep coming to her.”

Having her biggest game since returning from injury, senior guard Robyn Benton finished the game with 11 points and two made three-pointers, her first double-digit scoring effort since injuring her ankle in Kentucky’s loss to Florida in January.

“It was huge for us and huge for her,” Elzy said. “It’s tough coming back from an injury, trying to find your way and where you fit in offensively. She told me yesterday, ‘Coach, I like these rims’. It was good to see the ball go in the basket today.”

While Kentucky had been all but written off earlier in the season, it continues to fight to build a tournament résumé and keep its postseason hopes alive. 

The team is still a ways away from an at-large bid to the big dance, but dominant wins such as the one over Arkansas on Sunday will catch the eyes of the selection committee.

“I have a lot of confidence in this team, I really believe in them,” Elzy said. “I’ve seen what they can do in practice, and it didn’t always show up in the win-loss column, but that’s just part of figuring out where we need to go next. We hit a tough road, but I think it’s paying off for us now. We’re seeing the fruits of our labor, and this is a signature win for our program that we needed.”

Kentucky will look to continue its win streak on Thursday, Feb. 24, in its final road game of the regular season, traveling to Columbia to battle the Missouri Tigers. That game is currently scheduled to tip-off at 8 p.m. EST.