Kyra Elzy remaining resilient ahead of matchup with No. 5 Tennessee


Kentucky Wildcats head coach Kyra Elzy yells to her team during the University of Kentucky vs. Tennessee women’s basketball game on Thursday, Feb. 11, 2021, at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky. Kentucky won 71-56. Photo by Jack Weaver | Staff

Cole Parke

Kentucky womens basketball head coach Kyra Elzy spoke about the Cats’ upcoming game against No. 5 Tennessee on the road this Sunday, Jan. 16. 

With Kentucky’s home game against Mississippi State being postponed for the second time this season, the matchup against the Volunteers has become the second straight road game against a top five opponent for UK.

“We have to remain resilient,” Elzy said. “These are the cards that we have been dealt, and we can only control the things that we can control. We used [the postponement] as an opportunity to practice and [the team] has really been locked in and trying to take care of business. We just have to treat it as the next game up.”

The prior road trip did not end favorably for Kentucky, with the Wildcats being defeated 74-54 against No. 1 South Carolina inside Colonial Life Arena.

“I think we continue to progress,” coach Elzy said. “Have we had setbacks? Absolutely, like all other SEC teams in the country. You just have to deal with adversity. Our margin of error is so small. You go back to our last game, layups and free throws. You have to be able to make those on the road in a tough environment.”

One of the biggest reasons for the lopsided victory in Columbia was the difference in points scored in the paint.

While the Cats’ failed to connect on several layups, they were also picked apart on defense by the size of the Gamecocks, notably Aliyah Boston, South Carolina’s 6-foot-5 forward, who finished with 28 points and 15 rebounds. Kentucky finished the game being out-scored 54-22 in the paint.

Unfortunately for the Cats, size may once again come into play with all of Tennessee’s starters in their prior game, with one exception, checking in over 6-feet tall.

On top of that, the Lady Vols’ center Tamari Key (6-feet-6 inches), Alexus Dye (6-foot) and Jordan Horston (6-feet-2 inches) are all averaging double-digit point totals on the season, with Key and Horston close to averaging a double-double.

“We have battled size all year and we’ll continue [to do so],” Elzy said. “That’s par for the course when playing in the SEC. One thing we need to commit to is rebounding by committee. It can’t be just one person. Everyone has to get in on the action.”

While Kentucky has a tough conference schedule ahead of them, coach Elzy expressed excitement for the season-to-come.

“The SEC is the best league in the country,” Elzy said. “When you watch night in and night out, you see why. There’s a lot of great coaches, there’s a lot of talent, and the physicality makes it tough from top to bottom. Every year it seems to get even better, which is scarier, but you want to be the best and play the best. In this league it just means more. It excites you as a competitor.”

No. 19 Kentucky on the road against No. 5 Tennessee tips off on Sunday, Jan. 16, at 3 p.m. E.T and will air on ESPN.