No. 21 Kentucky’s woes continue; Cats lose 77-52 to Florida


Kentucky Wildcats guard Rhyne Howard (10) fights for possession of the ball during the UK vs. Presbyterian College women’s basketball game on Tuesday, Nov. 9, 2021, at Memorial Coliseum in Lexington, Kentucky. Kentucky won 81-53. Photo by Michael Clubb | Staff

Cole Parke

No. 21 Kentucky’s (8-6) losing streak extends to three as the Cats fall 77-52 at home to Florida (14-5). All three losses have come by 20 or more points.

In what was looking to be a prime bounce-back opportunity, Kentucky faltered, adding to its downward spiral.

It was announced prior to tip-off that Kentucky’s second leading scorer and rebounder Dre’una Edwards would not play due to a one-game suspension, her second of the season.

“It’s a disciplinary action that we’re dealing with internally,” Kentucky head coach Kyra Elzy said. “We will address it when the time comes. No further comments.”

Her absence was immediately apparent for the Wildcats, with Florida dominating the boards 48-31 and out-scoring the Cats in the paint 40-16. With the final result, Kentucky is now 0-2 in games without Edwards.

Matters became worse for Kentucky in the second quarter when senior guard Robyn Benton also left the game after going down with an injury under the basket. Benton appeared to be in tears clutching her right leg, a bad sign for an athlete who entered the game ‘questionable’ in the first place. Benton required assistance off the court and left the floor entirely, not to return for the remainder of the night.

“I’ll check on her [as soon as] we leave here,” Elzy said after the game. “Right now she’s with the medical team. I have not received an update on her status.”

Kentucky’s lack of depth was on full display with two frequent starters not on the court. The Wildcats only received two points from their bench on a Nyah Leveretter basket.

With all the hurdles the team couldn’t overcome, Kentucky found themselves having not led at any point by the end of the game. The 25-point loss comes in second to their previous 26 point loss to Tennessee for the worst margin of defeat this season. It was also Kentucky’s first loss at Memorial Coliseum.

Rhyne Howard led Kentucky in scoring with 17 points, one of only three players to record double-digit points. As a team, Kentucky shot 18-66, their worst all season. They also finished 4-18 from beyond the arch.

“I think our problems started defensively,” Elzy said. “We did not have the intensity I was looking for. We changed up our defenses, and that’s on me I’ll take that, but that was not the intensity I was looking for defensively. Offensively, ther physical play really bothered us, I don’t think we handled it early on.”

Kentucky returns to play this Sunday, Jan. 23, this time from Rupp Arena against Ole Miss. It will be Kentcky’s second opportunity to bounce back against an unranked opponent at home.

“We need to do some soul searching,” Elzy said. “We’re talented enough to turn this around. We just have to go back and reset, refocus, and change our mentality [into a] refuse to lose attitude. That will start with me as the leader of this program. We are not victims. We’re dealing with adversity but so is every team in the country. We just have to step up to the challenge.”

Kentucky against Ole Miss will tip-off at 12 p.m. on Sunday and will air on the SEC Network.