ST. THOMAS, V.I. – Freshman Rhyne Howard had 18 points and senior Taylor Murray scored 17 as the Kentucky women’s basketball team upset No. 17 South Florida 85-63 in Thursday action at the 2018 Paradise Jam.
Jaida Roper came off the bench to score 12 points, while KeKe McKinney had another solid effort, scoring 10.
Kentucky (5-0) started quickly, scoring the first five points of the contest behind a three-pointer from Howard and a layup by Murray. South Florida scored the next four points to cut the lead to one, but Kentucky responded by scoring four straight, forcing a USF timeout.
Later in the quarter, Kentucky went cold, and South Florida responded by scoring nine in a row, on three consecutive three-pointers, to take a 19-17 lead with 1:53 left in the first quarter. Roper was able to end that run on a jumper with 1:36 left in the period. The Cats then regained the lead, 22-19 on a McKinney three-pointer with 1:03 to go in the first. Kentucky would lead 22-20 after one quarter.
USF (4-1) tied the game early in the third quarter before Kentucky scored six straight, including a three-pointer from Maci Morris, to lead 28-22. USF ended the run on a Shae Leverett layup, but Roper answered with a jumper, giving the Cats a 30-24 lead with 4:33 left in the first half. Kentucky would close the half on a 10-0 run to extend the lead to 44-28.
Kentucky would extend the lead to as many as 18 early in the third quarter before South Florida made a bit of a run. The Bulls would cut the Wildcats’ lead to 12 before McKinney nailed a three-pointer with 6:09 left in the third quarter to stretch the lead to 55-40 UK with 6:09 left in the third period. Kentucky would take a 21-point lead, 63-42, with 1:59 left in the period on a three-ball by Howard. The Cats would lead 65-44 at the end of the third quarter.
In the fourth quarter, Kentucky kept the pressure on, leading by as many as 26 points before USF cut the lead to 78-59 with 1:57 to go. But Morris nailed a three-pointer on UK’s next possession to put the game, and the upset, away.
Kentucky returns to action on Friday, facing UCLA in the Paradise Jam. Tipoff is set for 1 p.m. and the game can be heard on the UK Sports Network.
Team Records and Series Notes
- Kentucky moves to 5-0 on the season while South Florida is now 4-1
- The Wildcats will return to action Friday at 1 p.m. ET for game two of the Paradise Jam in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands vs. UCLA. The game will be streamed on FloHoops.com while Darren Headrick will have the call on radio on the UK Sports Network.
- The Wildcats lead the all-time series in games played against South Florida, 3-0.
- UK is now 803-532 all-time in program history.
- Matthew Mitchell is in his 12th year with the Wildcats and holds a 261-117 record. Mitchell is 291-146 overall in 14 years as a head coach.
- The Wildcats wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving.
- Kentucky used the starting combination of senior guard Taylor Murray, senior guard Maci Morris, freshman guard Rhyne Howard, sophomore forward KeKe McKinney and sophomore forward Tatyana Wyatt.
- Kentucky is now 4-0 this season with this starting combination.
- The Wildcats led 44-28 at halftime after shooting a strong percentage from the field, including hitting five 3s.
- Taylor Murray had 13 points to lead Kentucky at halftime, while Jaida Roper had seven points.
- UK was 7-for-9 from the free-throw line.
- UK outscored USF 24-8 in the second quarter to grab a double-digit halftime lead.
- The Kentucky defense limited South Florida to a season-low 63 points in the game.
- The Bulls entered the game averaging 80 points per game with wins over Ohio State, Albany, Bethune-Cookman and Oklahoma.
- Kentucky scored 85 points, which was the most that South Florida has allowed all season.
- UK has scored 85 points or more in three of its first five games.
- Thursday’s win was the first for Kentucky over a ranked opponent since taking down No. 2/3 Mississippi State at home on Feb. 23, 2017.
- The Wildcats did not defeat a ranked opponent last season.
- This was the 89th win in program history for Kentucky against a ranked opponent and the 48 under head coach Matthew Mitchell.
- Kentucky hit nine 3-pointers in the game and has not hit nine or more in three of its five games this season.
- UK went 13-for-15 from the free-throw line in the first three quarter but just 3-of-8 in the fourth quarter to finish 16-for-23 overall.
- The Wildcats forced South Florida into 20 turnovers and had 17 points off those miscues.
- Kentucky scored 20+ points in both the second and fourth quarter, while limiting USF to single digits in the second quarter.
- UK has now scored 20+ points in 11 of the 20 quarters they have played.
- The Wildcats have limited opponents to single digits in nine of the 20 quarters they have played.
- Senior guard Maci Morris had eight points and hit two 3s in the game.
- Morris now has 1,271 career points, which ranks 19th most in program history. She needs 45 more to tie Bria Goss for 18th all-time in school history in points scored.
- Morris has 187 career 3-pointers made which ranks third in program history. She needs 10 more to tie Jennifer O’Neill for second all-time in program history.
- Senior guard Taylor Murray had a season-best 17 points going 5-for-10 from the field and 6-of-8 from the free-throw line.
- Murray now has 1,031 career points and is tied for 30th all-time in points scored with Debbie Miller. She needs 26 more points to tied Kim Denkins for 29th all-time.
- Murray has 345 career assists and needs 4 more to tie A’dia Mathies for 10th all-time in program history.
- Murray had a team-best eight rebounds in the game.
- Junior guard Jaida Roper posted a season-high 13 points with two 3s in the game.
- Roper has scored in double figures twice this season and has eight or more points in four games.
- Roper went 5-of-9 from the field and 2-of-3 from 3 in the game with three rebounds and two assists.
- Freshman guard Rhyne Howard led Kentucky scoring with 18 points going 7-of-12 from the field with three rebounds.
- Howard has scored 10 or more points in every game this season and has led Kentucky in scoring twice this year.
- Sophomore forward KeKe McKinney had 10 points in the game, hitting two 3s.