Women's Basketball
No. 9 Kentucky Continues Home Stretch vs. Marshall Wednesday

No. 9 Kentucky Continues Home Stretch vs. Marshall Wednesday

by Evan Crane

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Looking to continue its momentum after the come-from-behind victory Sunday vs. top-15 ranked Indiana, the No. 9 University of Kentucky women’s basketball team returns to the Memorial Coliseum floor Wednesday at 7 p.m. ET to play host to Marshall.
With attendance limited to 15% of normal arena capacity, the majority of tickets have been sold as full-season packages for women’s basketball and UK does not expect any general public ticket sales at this time. Fans are encouraged to check Ticketmaster.com for any ticket allotments that are returned and released closer to game days, as well as for verified resale tickets.
The game vs. Marshall will be streamed on SEC Network+ with Clay Ables and Christi Thomas on the call. The action can also be seen through WatchESPN on computers, smartphones or tablets. Darren Headrick will have the call on the UK Sports Network on 630AM WLAP in Lexington. Live stats and free live audio will be available online at UKathletics.com.
Kentucky has started the season 4-0 for the fourth straight season. This is the seventh time in interim head coach Kyra Elzy’s nine seasons on the UK staff that the Wildcats have started at least 4-0. The strong start is the third best in program history for a first-year head coach. Terry Hall started 9-0 in 1980-81, while Sharon Fanning started 5-0 in 1987-88.
UK is coming off a huge 72-68 victory over top-15 ranked Indiana on Sunday, coming from behind to earn the early season victory. UK trailed by 13 at halftime and by as much as 14 in the first half before outscoring the Hoosier 49-32 down the stretch, including 28-14 in the fourth quarter. Junior guard Rhyne Howard scored 22 points, hitting three 3s in the game, while three other Wildcats were in double figures. Senior guard Chasity Patterson scored 13 points with seven rebounds and six assists, while sophomore forward Dre’una Edwards recorded her third straight double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds. Junior guard Robyn Benton came off the bench to score 12 points including a huge 3 and two free throws late in the fourth quarter as part of UK’s 11-0 run to take control of the game.
The win moved Kentucky up to No. 9 in the latest Associated Press Top 25, which marks the first time UK has entered the top-10 in the listing since 2015-16. This is the 90th week all-time that UK has been ranked inside the AP Top 10. UK’s highest ranking is No. 4 in 82-83.
Three Wildcats are averaging over 14 points this season, paced by Patterson who is averaging 16 points with a team-best 14 assists. Howard is averaging 15.0 points, while Edwards is averaging 14.8 points with 9.5 rebounds. Benton is averaging 9.8 points per game and has 16 total rebounds, while junior Blair Green is averaging 7.8 points and has hit five 3s. Senior forward KeKe McKinney is playing 32.4 minutes per game this season and is averaging 6.5 rebounds and 5.8 points.
Marshall started its season Sunday by defeating Radford 69-58 inside Cam Henderson Center. The Thundering Herd were leading 49-47 heading into the fourth quarter before outscoring Radford 20-11 in the final 10 minutes to claim the win. MU shot 38.5 percent from the field and went 5-of-24 from long range in the game. Marshall was led by preseason all-conference honoree Savannah Wheeler, who scored 25 points with three rebounds, going 7-of-16 from the field and 3-of-9 from 3. Wheeler went 8-of-12 from the free throw line with three rebounds and two steals. Sophomore forward Alexis Johnson scored 12 points with nine rebounds, hitting two 3s, while junior forward/center Lorelei Roper scored nine points with eight rebounds. Nine players played in the game with eight scoring points. Last season, Marshall went 13-17, 7-11 in Conference USA play averaging 62.9 points per game. Marshall returns three starters from that team and seven total letterwinners. Marshall welcomes seven newcomers to the squad.
Thursday will be the 17th all-time meeting between Kentucky and Marshall and the 10th time the two schools have met in Lexington. UK is 14-2 all-time against the Thundering Herd, including a 9-0 mark at home (8-0 inside Memorial Coliseum). This will be only the fourth meeting since 2003 between the two program with UK winning each of the last three. Marshall’s two wins were both in Huntington in 1996 and 1988. The last meeting was on Nov. 26, 2017 when UK earned a 69-39 victory inside Memorial Coliseum. The Wildcats shot 41.3 percent from the field and went 7-of-15 from long range. Several Wildcats that are on the team now played in the game, including KeKe McKinney scoring seven points with five rebounds. Kameron Roach played six minutes in the game. Kristen Mayo is the only play for Marshall that played in that game, starting and contributing 30 minutes with five points, three rebounds and two assists.
Kentucky owns a 62-33 all-time record against teams that make up the current alignment of Conference USA. Marshall is the only C-USA team that UK is scheduled to play this year.
For more information on the Kentucky women’s basketball team, visit UKathletics.com or follow @KentuckyWBB on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.
Kentucky Women’s Basketball
Pre-Marshall News Conference
Tuesday, December 8, 2020
Joe Craft Center – Lexington, Ky.
Assistant Coach Amber Smith
On midweek game vs. Marshall…
“I think they are very guard heavy, guard oriented. So, they are going to look to shoot a lot of 3s, they’re looking to drive to the basket. They shots 24 3s in their season opener, so we are going to have to close out in a disciplined defensive stance. And, have hot hands. Being ready to guard the drive and the shot, and then just having great help side, but other than that, we’ve got to bring our energy, and it’s got to be more about what we do and not about what Marshall does.”
On Coach Kyra Elzy’s health and timetable to return…
“Coach (Kyra) Elzy is doing well. She is in high spirits, and I don’t want to speak for her, but we’re just happy to have her as our interim head coach. She has done a great job leading this program. So, all I can probably say is that she is doing good and we’re happy to have her at Kentucky.”
On the 28-14 fourth-quarter run vs. Indiana…
“I think just a flipped switch within our team, that, you know, we’re capable of playing that way, so today we stressed big time, starting off is so important to us, and just trying to put that 40 minutes together. So, how you saw us play in the second half is how we want to play overall and we know that we’re capable. So, we had some people step up and change their attitude, and you know, like buckle down and get defensive stops, because we were struggling the entire game on getting stops. So, I think one or two people buckled down, and everybody else just followed suit. That’s what we’re capable of, that’s Kentucky basketball.”
On how you avoid getting in a hole early on…
“Correct, you know, I think watching film. We watched film with our team today and we showed the first two possessions, offensively and defensively, and we showed our team that first defensive clip and we asked them, is this how we play, is this Kentucky basketball. Will this team (opponent) get the sense of, hey, they’re bringing it, and everybody said no. So, making them see that I think will then help us have a better start once they see it on film, they’re like, ok, we’re not doing what our coaches are asking us to do every day in practice. So, all we can do as coaches is to continue to preach that to them, and then eventually it will click because we have that type of team that will turn it around and wants to be better. So, I think we’ll have better starts, and if we don’t, we’ll still preach to them and try again.”
On how Rhyne Howard played against Indiana, and what you need to see out of her against Marshall…
“It was very good seeing her in her element. Obviously, at Kansas State that was her first game back, so, trying to get those first game jitters out. So, this past game, we saw Rhyne Howard come into the light. So, she brought it, and I think she is just an overall player, even if she is not scoring, she’s affecting the game on the defensive end and passing offensively. So, we want to see her continue to do that, and then she just makes our team better when she’s on the court. Then, I think she’s off the court, she was a good teammate, and people were stepping up when she was in foul trouble or in her absence, so, I think it has been very good for our team to have Rhyne on the court.”
On how Chasity Patterson has developed…
“Yes, the biggest thing for Chasity (Patterson) when I talk about development, I think it is defensively. None of us probably want to be handling the ball when Chasity Patterson is guarding us. She has done a great job on ball defense and putting their point guard under a lot of pressure, so I think that’s the biggest area in her game that she has grown, but offensively, she is leading our team, she is trying to get us in an offense and get us going, but we are much better as a team when she is doing the things that she does well and that is leading us offensively and defensively.”
On how important Robyn Benton and Olivia Owens have been as additions to the team…
“Yes, they are great additions to our team, and I think they bring energy. That’s the biggest thing. Like, they’re not even starters, but they’re buying into their role, and that’s the most important thing for this team. And, Coach (Kyra) Elzy has met with everybody individually about their role and what we need them to bring, and I think those two particularly have bought into it and they want to see the team do well, so they want to be whatever they need to be. So, to me, they’re X factors. When they come off that bench, they’re ready to make an impact. So, just because you come off the bench doesn’t mean you can’t play starter minutes, so I think they have bought into that. Whatever they need to do to help this team, they’re willing to do, and that picture with Olivia (Owens) and Tatyana (Wyatt), she’s in the background shooting with Tatyana, I mean that is the epitome of a great team.”
On if Dre’una Edwards is surprising the staff…
“It’s exactly what we expected, we’re not surprised, but we’re glad you all are surprised. But, she is bringing it. Obviously, you all probably saw in the first game that you may have counted her out, but you know, she came back and we just told Dre to slow down. When she slows down, she is a force to be reckoned with and she is a dawg, as we all know, in the post. She does that dirty work for us. She brings that energy. She made some big plays against Indiana that I thought helped turn it around. So, Dre is an impact player. She is willing to do whatever she needs to do in order to help our team.”
On the difference between coaching vs. Indiana without Kyra Elzy than the last three games…
“Um, obviously (Kyra) Elzy was not with us. But, we are all on the same page as far as our offensive philosophy, our defensive philosophy, so, when that happened, obviously, we wanted Elzy to be there, but we knew that she could not. So, we knew we had to step up. You know, (Niya) Butts has eight years of coaching experience at Arizona, and you know, I’ve been surrounded by Matthew (Mitchell), Butts and Elzy for years, so I’ve learned from the best, so I was ready to step up to the challenge and do whatever I needed to do to win. Butts had the scout, she had to scout Indiana, so you know, we were prepared, we just knew we had to go in there and take care of business. Once we found out about Elzy, we wanted go in there and win that game for Elzy, so we were prepared, we weren’t freaking out, we were ready to lead our team to a victory.”
On players knowing their roles…
“I think on any team, and any team I’ve played on, it’s a process. You know, because your play basketball for your entire life, and in some areas you’re taught, you know, scoring, this and that in the stat sheet, that’s what matters, but at the end of the day, when you’re coaches believe in you and you have people that know basketball, it doesn’t matter about points or what you put on the stat sheet, so it’s our job as coaches to bring in the team that you have come in and fill specific roles, so you have to buy into that role, so I think that takes a process for those players to buy into, but once they do – and as you can see with KeKe McKinney, this is her fourth year, and every year you can see her buying in to that role, and she is jsut doing it well, you know, being a screener, being a rebounder, and doing the things that like she said, it doesn’t show up in the stat sheet. But, as coaches we know, they’re valuable when they’re on the court because she has this, this and this. So, it is a process to buy into it, and I think our team is definitely buying into their individual roles.”
On how you have been able to keep your sanity through this season…
“You just have to do it. I think everybody has dealt with something in 2020, and that doesn’t exclude us, so we’ve been ready to step up to any challenge that has come our way, and specifically with Rhyne (Howard) and that suspension, that gave other people on our team the opportunity to step up, so trying to find an opportunity in whatever difficult challenge that happens, you’ve got to step up to it and you’ve got to keep on moving, so I think that is what we have done, and we have done a great job of just continuing to keep on going.”
On how this team is different than last year…
“Well, you know, obviously Coach (Matthew) Mitchell was leading us and now Coach (Kyra) Elzy is leading us, and they’re very similar in their philosophies. Obviously, Coach Elzy is going to have her own twist on things, but the culture is the same. You know, what we do here at Kentucky, that’s how we do it and we all believe in that, but I think we just have some great additions to the team, as far as players, and one of our players said recently that she thinks the coaches do a good job of bringing in good people, good individuals that mesh very well. So, I think we just have to have some good additions, talent wise, but what we’re doing and what we’re preaching in practice is the same, how we want to play is the same, but we just have some great additions to it as far as talent wise.”
On if Jazmine Massengill can get a waiver, would she be ready to go…
“Right, Jaz (Jazmine Massengill) is in every practice, and she’s been doing workouts with me individually, so Jaz is in shape and she is ready to go if that happens, but we make sure we are preparing all of our players. Even before we got the word before Olivia (Owens) or Robyn (Benton) were eligible to play immediately, we made them go through practice just like any other player. So, we want them to be game ready and game shape every single time, but Jaz is a really good leader. She brings it every single day, she knows her jobs right now, and one of her roles is to help her teammates get better in practice right now, so she has bought into that, and I think she will be great leader us, so she is adding to our team every single day.”

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