LEXINGTON, Ky. – Rhyne Howard scored 16 points and Taylor Murray added 13 as the 19th-ranked Kentucky women’s basketball team topped Florida 62-51 on Sunday at Rupp Arena.
Kentucky (18-5, 5-4 SEC) also got 10 points and a career-high seven assists from leading scorer Maci Morris. It was the 19th time this season, and the 85th time in her career, that Morris has reached double figures in scoring. The senior from Bell County moved into eighth place on UK’s career scoring list in the game. Morris now has 1,572 points during her storied career in Lexington.
The Wildcats won despite shooting just 31.7 percent (20-63) from the floor in the game, including just five of 20 (25 percent) from behind the arc. Kentucky forced 24 Florida turnovers in the game, turning those into 31 points. The Cats also had a big advantage in second-chance points, outscoring the Gators 16-8.
With its inside players in foul trouble, Kentucky got huge contributions from Blair Green and Amanda Paschal on Sunday. Green scored eight points and grabbed five rebounds, while Paschal had six points and a career-high and team-leading nine rebounds.
Florida got out of the gates early, hitting three of its first four shots, including its first two shots from behind the arc. Kentucky, on the other hand, missed its first seven shots and, predictably, fell behind 9-0. Kentucky got its first basket of the game on a Jaida Roper jumper, and free throw at 6:42 of the first period. The Cats would cut the lead in half on a three from Blair Green, making it 9-6. Florida answered by scoring the next four points to lead 13-6 with 3:23 left in the first quarter.
Kentucky got another basket from Green to cut deficit to 13-8. After the Gators scored to make it 15-8, the Cats scored the last seven points of the period, including the last four by Howard, to tie the score at 15 apiece after one quarter. Green led UK with five points in the first quarter.
The teams traded three-pointers near the beginning of the second quarter, with Florida’s Ariel Johnson hitting from deep before Paschal answered. Kentucky took its first lead of the game when Howard converted a layup on a pass from Morris, making it 20-18 Cats. UK would extend the lead to 23-18 when Paschal hit her second three of the quarter.
Florida would get back within two, 25-23, on a Danielle Rainey jumper with 4:20 left in the half. But Kentucky scored the last five points of the half to lead 30-23 at the break. Howard led UK with 12 points in the first half. The Cats forced 16 Florida turnovers in the first half and UK scored 21 points off those Florida Miscues. The Gators hit seven of their 13 field goals in the first half, but were hampered by the 16 turnovers. Kentucky made 12 of 39 (30.8 percent) from the floor in the first half, but had only three turnovers.
Kentucky extended its lead early in the third period as Morris scored her first points, nailing a three-pointer from the top of the key to give the Cats a 33-23 lead. But Florida scored the next six points, on back-to-back three-pointers, to cut the deficit to 33-29. Murray would score UK’s next four points, on four free throws, as the Cats extended the lead to 37-30 with 5:29 left in the third.
Florida would continue to chip away at the lead, eventually getting within two, 42-40 with 51 seconds left in the period. The Cats scored the last three points of the frame to lead 45-40 with 10 minutes left to play.
In the fourth quarter, Kentucky gradually built its lead, using an 8-0 run to take its biggest lead of the game, 56-43, with 3:46 remaining. Florida would get back within nine, 58-49, but the Gators would get no closer.
Kentucky returns to action on Thursday, visiting the Plains to take on Auburn. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. ET and the game can be seen on SEC Network Plus.
Team Records and Series Notes
- Kentucky moves to 18-5 on the season and 5-4 in the league while Florida is now 5-17, 1-8 in the SEC.
- The Wildcats will return to action Thursday at Auburn at 7 p.m. ET inside Auburn Arena. The game will be broadcast on SEC Network+ while Darren Headrick will have the call on radio on the UK Sports Network.
- Kentucky leads the all-time series in games played against Florida, 31-25.
- UK owns a 16-10 mark in games played in Lexington.
- The Wildcats have won three straight games against the Gators in the series.
- UK is now 816-537 all-time in its 45 years as a program.
- Matthew Mitchell is in his 12th year with the Wildcats and holds a 274-122 record. Mitchell is 304-151 overall in 14 years as a head coach.
- Kentucky is ranked No. 19 in the Associated Press Top 25 and No. 15 in the USA Today/Coaches Top 25.
- UK owns a 27-18 all-time record in Rupp Arena, including a 2-0 mark this season.
- Kentucky has played at least one game in Rupp Arena since 2011-12.
- 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.
- The Wildcats are 16-4 with those starting five this season.
- Florida started the game on a 9-0 run hitting two 3s and going 3-of-4 from the field forcing a UK timeout with 7:39 to go in the first quarter.
- Kentucky started the game 0-of-7 from the field.
- Kentucky ended the first quarter on a 7-0 run to tie the game at 15-15 after the first quarter.
- UK shot just 27 percent from the field in the first quarter, going 6-for-22 overall and 1-for-6 from 3.
- Florida attempted just seven field goals in the first quarter, going 4-of-7 from the field and 3-of-5 from long range.
- The Gators had 10 turnovers in the first quarter and UK scored 10 points off those miscues.
- After Florida gained a 15-8 lead with 2:16 left in the first quarter, Kentucky outscored the Gators 22-7 over the next 12 minutes of play to take a 30-23 lead into the break at halftime.
- Kentucky outscored Florida 15-8 in the second quarter.
- Kentucky forced Florida into 16 turnovers in the first half and score 21 points off those miscues.
- The Wildcats shot 31.7 percent from the field in the game and have shot less than 40 percent from the field in each of their last four games.
- UK’s 31.7 percent from the field was its second lowest all season.
- Kentucky limited Florida to 51 points and have limited four SEC teams this season to 55 points or less.
- Three Wildcats scored in double figures in the game moving UK to 9-2 this season when UK accomplishes that feat.
- UK won the boards against Florida and has now won the rebounding battle in three of the last four games.
- Senior guard Maci Morris scored 10 points – all in the second half – hitting two threes with a rebound, block and steal.
- Morris now has 1,572 career points, which ranks eighth most in program history. She needs 26 more point to tie Pam Browning for 7th all-time in school history in points scored.
- Morris has 235 career 3-pointers made which ranks second in program history. She needs 36 more 3s to tie Sara Potts for most all-time.
- Morris has hit at least one 3-pointer in 100 of 119 career games played.
- Morris set a new career high with seven assists in the game.
- Senior guard Taylor Murray scored 13 points with three rebounds, three assists, one block and one steal.
- Murray now has 1,236 career points and ranks 20th all-time in points scored. She needs 82 more points to tie Bria Goss for 19th with 1,318.
- Murray has 410 career assists which ranks seventh most in program history. She needs 15 more to tie Amber Smith for sixth all-time in program history.
- Murray has 256 career steals which ranks seventh most in program history. She needs 16 more steals to move into the top five in program history.
- Freshman guard Rhyne Howard led Kentucky with 16 points, adding five rebounds, one assists and one steal.
- Howard has led Kentucky in scoring 10 times this season.
- Howard has score 15 or more points in 15 games this season.
- Howard has score 361 point this season which ties the fifth most by a freshman in a season in program history. She needs one more point to tie Samantha Mohoney for fourth. She needs 280 more points to tie Valerie Still for the program record.
- Howard has hit 51 3-pointers this season, which is the most ever by a true freshman in a single season in program history.
- Junior guard Amanda Paschal recorded a career high nine rebounds in the game.
- Paschal added six points and hit two 3s in the first half.
- Freshman guard Blair Green scored eight points with five rebounds.
- Green hit a 3-pointer and recorded two steals in the game.