LEXINGTON, Ky. – Taylor Murray had 12 points, including the 1,000th point of her UK career, while Rhyne Howard and Jaida Roper each had 11 as the Kentucky women’s basketball team topped Virginia 63-51 on Thursday night at Rupp Arena.
Kentucky (3-0) used its pressure defense to affect the outcome for the third straight game to open the season. The Cats forced 32 turnovers, and turned those into 32 points. The turnover numbers helped Kentucky overcome a tough shooting night, as the Cats were only able to connect on 23 of 69 (33.3 percent) from the floor in the game.
Ogechi Anyagaligbo had a career-high eight rebounds to lead the Cats, while Howard and KeKe McKinney had seven boards apiece.
Kentucky got off to a slow start after missing its first seven goals of the game. With 4:00 remaining in the first quarter, the Wildcats hit three in a row to take an early 6-4 lead on a made basket in the lane by Blair Green. At the end of the quarter, the teams were tied 8-8. The Wildcats forced 10 Virginia turnovers in the first quarter alone.
As they did in the first quarter, Kentucky started slowly in the second period. Virginia used a 5-0 run to take a 15-12 lead with 5:59 left in the half. But Kentucky rallied later in the half. A three-pointer by Tatyana Wyatt gave Kentucky a 19-17 lead with one minute left in the second quarter. Virginia struck back with a three from Erica Martinsen with 40 seconds remaining to lead 20-19. But just before the half, Maci Morris drained a jumper from the top of the key to give UK a 21-20 going into the break.
Kentucky forced Virginia into 18 turnovers in the first half, including eight in the second quarter. The Cats turned those 18 turnovers into 15 points.
The Wildcats would start the third quarter on a 9-2 run to take their biggest lead of the game at that point, a 30-22 advantage with 4:46 left in the period. The Wildcats finally began to heat up from behind the arc in the third quarter, making three of their six attempts. Kentucky outscored Virginia 23-11 in the quarter to grab a double-digit lead, 44-31.
Kentucky scored the first five points of the fourth quarter to take its biggest lead of the game, 47-31, with 8:01 left in the game. Virginia would continue to chip away at the lead, eventually cutting it to nine points, 57-48, with under a minute to play.
Kentucky returns to action on Sunday, as the Wildcats host High Point University at Memorial Coliseum. Tipoff is set for 2 p.m. ET and the game can be seen on SEC Network+.
Team Records and Series Notes
- Kentucky moves to 3-0 on the season while Virginia is now 0-2.
- The Wildcats will return to action Sunday at 2 p.m. ET inside Memorial Coliseum when they play host to High Point. The game will be televised on SEC Network+. Darren Headrick will have the call on radio on the UK Sports Network.
- The Wildcats now lead the all-time series in games played against Virginia, 1-0.
- UK is now 801-532 all-time in program history.
- Matthew Mitchell is in his 12th year with the Wildcats and holds a 259-117 record. Mitchell is 289-146 overall in 14 years as a head coach.
- UK now has an all-time record of 26-18 in Rupp Arena, including a 1-0 mark this season.
- Kentucky is receiving votes in the USA Today/Coaches Preseason Top 25 and is scheduled to play 14 games this season against teams that are currently ranked in the USA Today/Coaches Top 25 and/or the Associated Press Top 25.
- 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 3-0 this season when it uses this starting combination.
- The Wildcats started slow offensively, going just 4-of-15 from the field in the first quarter and 10-of-37 overall in the first half.
- Virginia went 8-fo-14 from the field in the first half, including 2-of-3 from long range.
- Kentucky’s defense was fantastic in the first half, turning UVA over 15 times in the first 20 minutes with 15 points off those miscues.
- UK had five steals in the first half.
- UK had a 9-0 edge in offensive rebounds in the first half.
- Virginia held the overall lead in rebounds at halftime, 19-17.
- A different Kentucky team came out of the locker room at halftime outscored UVA 23-11 in the third quarter with a 9-0 run and 7-0 run.
- Kentucky shot 45 percent from the field and 50 percent from 3 in the third quarter.
- Kentucky has allowed 51 points or less in three consecutive games for the first time since Nov. 17, 23, and 25, 2012.
- Kentucky has their fewest points allowed through their first three games of a season (127) since 1974-1975 (108)
- Senior guard Taylor Murray had 12 points in the game to lead Kentucky.
- Murray now has 1,000 career points, becoming the 34th player in program history to join the UK 1,000 point club.
- Murray has 342 career assists and needs 7 more to tie A’dia Mathies for 10th all-time in program history.
- Murray has now led Kentucky in assists 44 times during her career.
- Senior guard Maci Morris scored nine points.
- Morris now has 1,241 career points, which ranks 19th most in program history. She needs 75 more to tie Bria Goss for 18th all-time in school history in points scored.
- Morris has 183 career 3-pointers made which ranks third in program history. She needs 14 more to tie Jennifer O’Neill for second all-time in program history.
- Freshman guard Rhyne Howard scored 11 points and has double figures in every game this season.
- Howard also added seven rebounds, which was a career high.
- Junior guard Jaida Roper was fantastic on the defensive end for Kentucky and ended the game with 11 points on 4-of-7 shooting.