Senior Night celebration as No. 15 Kentucky defeats Georgia

Wildcats conclude regular-season home schedule with 88-77 win over Georgia


LEXINGTON, Ky. (UK Athletics) – National Player of the Year candidate Rhyne Howard scored 25 points as the 15th-ranked Kentucky women’s basketball team beat Georgia 88-77 on Thursday night at Memorial Coliseum.

Kentucky (21-6, 10-5) got key contributions from three seniors, who were playing their final regular season game at home on Thursday. Sabrina Haines had 15 points, Jaida Roper had 14 and Ogechi Anyagaligbo had 10.

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The Cats hit nine of their first 13 attempts from behind the arc on their way to making 12 of 27 (44.4 percent) for the game. UK forced 15 Georgia turnovers in the contest and were able to convert those into 22 points. Meanwhile, the Cats had just 10 turnovers and the Bulldogs had just seven points off those miscues.

Georgia scored first in the game on a three by Gabby Connally but Kentucky was able to grab a 4-3 advantage after consecutive layups by Anyagaligbo. Georgia would take a 7-4 lead before Kentucky got back-to-back threes from Howard and KeKe McKinney to lead 10-7 with 6:24 to play in the first.

Kentucky would use a 9-4 run to extend the lead to 19-11 with 2:50 to play in the half. UK’s points came on a three from Blair Green, a layup and free throw from Tatyana Wyatt and a three from Howard. The Cats would extend the lead to 22-13 on a three from Haines, but the Bulldogs would score the final seven points of the period to cut the deficit to 22-20 at the end of the first quarter.

Early in the second period, Kentucky was red hot from beyond the arc. Four of UK’s first five baskets in the period were for three as the Cats turned a two-point lead into a 39-25 lead with a 17-5 run.

Kentucky would lead by as many as 16, on three occasions, including 48-32 with 3:52 to play in the half. But as they did in the first quarter, Georgia rallied late, using a 12-3 run to get within seven, 51-44, with 36.4 seconds remaining in the half. UK would hold a seven-point advantage, 53-46, at the half. Haines had 13 points to lead Kentucky in the first 20 minutes, while Howard had 12.

Unlike the first half, both teams came out cold in the second half. Georgia missed its first five shots of the second half, while Kentucky missed its first seven. Despite not scoring from the field, UK actually increased its lead by making four consecutive free throw attempts in the period. McKinney scored UK’s first basket of the period on a putback with 5:03 left in the third to give the Cats a 59-48 lead.

Kentucky would extend the lead to 13 on a pair of occasions in the third, the last being at 65-52 with 2:45 left in the third period. But as they had done in the previous two quarters, Georgia mounted a comeback. The Bulldogs scored six in a row to get within seven, 65-58, with 1:28 to play in the third. The Cats would hold a 67-60 lead after three periods of play.

Early in the fourth period, Georgia would cut the lead to five, 67-62, on a layup by Kaila Hubbard. Kentucky quickly answered with an Anyagaligbo fast break layup to lead by seven. Maya Caldwell would get Georgia within five on a jumper, but the Cats would get four points in a row from Howard to make it 73-64 with 7:37 to play.

Kentucky would hold a 77-68 lead before a 6-0 run would put the game away. A three-pointer from McKinney and a layup and free throw from Howard gave UK an 83-68 advantage with 3:22 left in the game.

Kentucky returns to action on Sunday in the Cats’ regular season finale at Vanderbilt. Tipoff from Memorial Gymnasium is scheduled for 2:05 p.m. ET and the game can be seen on the SEC Network.

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Bryan Kennedy hails from the Bluegrass State. He was born and raised in Owensboro, KY where he graduated from Apollo High School in 2006. Bryan graduated from the University of Kentucky with a degree in Broadcast Journalism and a minor in Spanish in 2010. He also received his master's degree in Sports Media and Branding from Western Kentucky University. While at UK, Bryan was the general manager of the on-campus TV station. He also did sports reporting, anchoring, producing and even the weather for UK Student News Network. While working for UKSNN, he also had the pleasure of covering Coach John Calipari's first press conference when he was introduced as the new head coach of the Kentucky Wildcats; easily one of his favorite moments as a young sports reporter. Before coming to ABC 36, Bryan was a morning anchor and reporter at WXXV News 25, our sister station in Gulfport, MS. He anchored more than four hours of news every day, including morning shows on NBC and Fox. While down south, Bryan had the opportunity to cover the Sugar Bowl, New Orleans Saints and the New Orleans Pelicans. After spending a little more than two years at WXXV, Bryan is extremely excited to return home. In his spare time, Bryan enjoys playing sports, especially rugby. He also enjoys crossfitting and watching sports (obviously). He's extremely excited to cover Central Kentucky. Feel free to say hello and send story ideas