GREENVILLE, S.C. (UK Athletics) – National Player of the Year candidate and SEC Player of the Year Rhyne Howard scored 24 points as the third-seeded Kentucky women’s basketball team handled sixth-seeded Tennessee 86-65 on Friday night in the quarterfinals of the 2020 SEC Women’s Basketball Tournament.
Howard had plenty of support from her teammates. A total of nine Wildcats scored in the game, with Tatyana Wyatt (14 points), Sabrina Haines (12) and Chasity Patterson (11) each scoring in double figures.
Kentucky forced 19 UT turnovers and converted those into 19 points. The Cats shot the ball very well from behind the arc, hitting 11 of 24 (45.8 percent) of their three pointers in the game. UK also came out even in the rebounding battle, 36-36, against a taller Tennessee team.
Kentucky got on the board first when Howard hit a jumper early. An Ogechi Anyagaligbo basket made it 4-0 UK before Tennessee got a layup from Rae Burrell to cut the lead to 4-2. A KeKe McKinney three gave the Cats a 7-2 advantage early, but Tennessee answered with a 6-1 run to tie the game at 8-8 with 6:37 left in the first quarter.
A Howard three gave the lead back to UK, 11-8, with 5:52 left in the first. Tennessee would cut the lead to 11-10 before a Tatyana Wyatt layup extended the UK lead to 13-10 with 2:05 to play in the period. The Cats would extend the lead to five, 15-10, on a pair of Sabrina Haines free throws and Kentucky would lead 17-13 after the first period.
Early in the second period, Tennessee got within two, 17-15, on a Jordan Horston basket. But the Cats would score eight straight points to take a double-digit advantage, 25-15, with 6:54 to play in the half. After Tennessee cut the lead to 25-18, the Cats went on a 7-0 run to extend the advantage to 32-18 with 4:50 to play in the half.
The Lady Vols would get back within 10 on multiple occasions, including at 36-26 before the Cats got a three from Howard and a layup from Blair Green and another three from Howard to hold a 44-28 advantage at the half. Howard led all scorers with 14 points in the first half.
Kentucky would continue to extend the lead in the third period. After a pair of Tennessee free throws to start the third, the Cats got a three from Howard, a pair of free throws from Anyagaligbo and a jumper from Haines to extend the lead to 51-30. The Cats would continue to build their third-quarter advantage, which reached 25 on a three from Green with 2:14 left in the period. UK would lead 71-49 heading to the fourth.
In that final period, Tennessee would get within 20, but could get no closer.
Kentucky advances to Saturday’s SEC Tournament semifinals where they will face Mississippi State at approximately 7 p.m. ET. The game can be seen on ESPNU.