By LARRY VAUGHT
Kentucky warmed up for Sunday afternoon’s showdown with No. 7 Louisville (9-1) with an easy 91-36 victory over Winthrop Wednesday night led by guard Jadia Roper’s career-high 30 points.
The game was in Rupp Arena, the same place unbeaten Kentucky (9-0) will host Louisville Sunday at 3 p.m. on ESPN.
“It is just another game. We are going to treat it like it is another game. We are going to go out there and play Kentucky ball,” forward KeKe McKinney said.
Coach Matthew Mitchell said playing in Rupp Arena on Wednesday certainly could be helpful Sunday.
“I think it’s good to game in a game in the building and not worry about what playing here will be like,” the UK coach said.
Kentucky (10-0) hit 13 3-point shots but 11 of them came in the first half when the Cats got three 3-pointers from Roper — who tied her career-high with 15 points in the first quarter — and four 3-pointers from Rhyne Howard, who finished the game with 12 points.
“With every game we have and every opportunity, we have got to do our best. So, that is what we are trying to prepare for,” Mitchell said about Louisville. “But obviously, that will be a very tough game and we will try to make sure that we are taking the good stuff from tonight like we have with all of our other games and build on that and then try to improve on whatever we can clean up.”
Roper was 12-for-13 from the field Wednesday and also had four assists, two rebounds and two steals.
“I was just real focused. I came here earlier and got some shots up,” Roper said. “I was feeling pretty good and I was just locked in. When I got going, my teammates were going in and encouraging me, shout out to them.”
Mitchell said Roper got into a “good rhythm” early not only shooting but also just making good decisions.
“We didn’t want to force anything and make it about one player. But, she just played really smart and she took good shots and did not force anything tonight. She just played a really smart forward game. I am happy for her and it has to be a great feeling to have that kind of game,” Mitchell said
Kentucky got a career high 13 points from Blair Green and 12 points from Howard, who did not play in the second half. The Cats also got double-figure scoring efforts from Sabrina Haines (11 points) and Tatyana Wyatt (10).
Mitchell said Howard, an all-American, was held out of the second half after stepping on someone’s foot in the first four minutes of the game and hobbling to the bench.
“Just an abundance of caution. I didn’t want to try to aggravate it. She would’ve gone and could’ve gone, but just trying to be really cautious there,” Mitchell said. “We will check it out, but it happened very early in the first half and she played a good half.
“We just wanted to make sure that we did not put her in any other jeopardy with the margin being there and give some other folks a chance to get some playing time and work on their games.”