Women's Basketball
Kentucky Opens SEC Play vs. No. 10 Arkansas on Thursday

Kentucky Opens SEC Play vs. No. 10 Arkansas on Thursday

by Evan Crane

LEXINGTON, Ky. – New Year’s Eve brings back Southeastern Conference women’s basketball as the No. 13 University of Kentucky women’s basketball team plays host to the No. 10 Arkansas Razorbacks on Thursday at 8:30 p.m. ET inside Memorial Coliseum.
With attendance limited to 15% of normal arena capacity, the majority of tickets have been sold as full-season packages for women’s basketball. General public single-game tickets are available at Ticketmaster.com. 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. Concession stands are reopen at Memorial Coliseum. Doors will open 1 hour prior to tip.
The game vs. Arkansas will be televised on SEC Network with Beth Mowins and Rebecca Lobo 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.
With the start of conference plays comes one of the most difficult stretches in program history for Kentucky, who will begin league play with back-to-back-to-back-to-back games against top-15 ranked teams. Initially, UK was supposed to travel to Tennessee this weekend but that game was postponed due to COVID-19 issues within the UT program. The SEC rescheduled UK to play at No. 12 Mississippi State on Sunday instead. Next week, UK will travel to No. 9 Texas A&M and host No. 5 South Carolina. If all four teams remain in the top 15 of the AP rankings at the time of each game, it will be the first time in program history that UK has faced four straight AP top-15 ranked teams. UK has faced three straight several times.
Kentucky enters league play ranked No. 13 in the AP Top 25 and No. 11 in the USA Today/Coaches Top 25. The Wildcats have been ranked all season long and peaked at No. 9 in both listings before falling to top-25 ranked DePaul in Chicago. UK is led in scoring this year by three players who are averaging over 15 points per game, starting with preseason All-American Rhyne Howard, who is averaging 15.5 points per game with 6.3 rebounds per game and a team-best 15 3-pointers made. Sophomore forward Dre’una Edwards is also averaging 15.5 points per game with a team-best 8.9 rebounds per game and eight blocks. Senior guard Chasity Patterson is averaging 15.4 points per game with a team-best 25 assists and 40 steals. Her 40 steals and 5.0 steals per game both rank No. 1 in the nation.
As a team, the Wildcats are averaging 79.4 points per game and only allowing opponents 56.1 points per game. As a team, the Wildcats have 95 steals which ranks ninth nationally and second in the SEC, while UK’s +7.4 turnover margin ranks 13th nationally and third in the SEC.
Arkansas is ranked No. 10 in the AP Top 25 and No. 10 in the USA Today/Coaches Top 25 after a 9-1 start to the season. The Razorbacks have faced two ranked teams, falling to then-No. 12/11 Maryland 115-96 at a neutral site before defeating then-No. 4/4 Baylor in Fayetteville as part of the SEC/Big 12 Challenge, 83-78.
The Razorbacks are averaging 91.2 points per game and allowing opponents 68.1 points per game. Arkansas has hit 101 3-pointers already this season and are averaging 10.1 3s per game. The Razorbacks have a -2.0 rebounding margin and +9.0 turnover margin. Chelsea Dungee leads the team with 18.9 points per game adding 18 made 3s, while Destiny Slocum is averaging 16.3 points per game with 35 assists and 19 3s. Amber Ramirez leads the team with 26 made 3s, adding 11.9 points per game.
This is the 39th all-time meeting between Kentucky and Arkansas in women’s basketball with UK owning a 24-14 record in the all-time series. UK leads the series 15-3 all-time in Lexington. Kentucky’s last home loss to Arkansas came Feb. 13, 2003 when the Razorbacks earned a 70-60 win inside Memorial Coliseum. UK had won 10 in a row against Arkansas until the Razorbacks grabbed a 103-85 win against Kentucky in Fayetteville last season on Feb. 9. That game was the second ever meeting between the two programs with both ranked in the top 25 as Arkansas was 25 and UK was 15. Thursday will be the third and the first with both teams in the top 15. Kentucky is 1-6 against a ranked Arkansas team with the lone win coming Jan. 28, 1996 when the unranked Wildcats defeated the No. 22 Razorbacks 69-65 in Lexington.
Kentucky is 16-22 in SEC openers since 1982-83. This is the second time UK and Arkansas are meeting to start league play. The first meeting was Jan. 6, 2011 which was the first meeting between the two programs with both ranked. The No. 25 Razorbacks earned a 78-67 home win that day over No. 10 Kentucky. Last season, UK fell 99-72 at South Carolina in its league lid-lifter.
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-Arkansas News Conference
Wednesday, December 30, 2020
Joe Craft Center – Lexington, Ky.

Head Coach Kyra Elzy
On a challenging conference schedule and having to substitute Tennessee with Mississippi State this Sunday …
“Well, every game in the SEC is a challenge. We play in the best conference in the country, so night-in and night-out it is going to be a grind. Like I told them today, SEC games are like gold. We try to protect home, and go on the road and steal some, but you know, you just have to focus, one game at a time, and right now our focus is on Arkansas, and that is the most important game on our schedule right now because it is the next one.”
On the importance to open conference play with a big win over Arkansas …
“Well, everybody needs confidence, right? You know, what we talked to our players about is to focus in. Obviously, the end result is we want to win, however there are steps that we must take to get there. It starts with practice and preparation, and then being able to execute in the game. Arkansas is a very talented team. They are a high powered offensive team – as far as scoring. They shoot 3s and layups, and we’re going to have our work cut out for us. We talked about our defensive energy, transition defense, getting the ball stops, fanning out at the 3-point line, try not to give open 3s, controlling the tempo, but more importantly, we’re going to have to put points on the board as well, so we’re going to have to push the tempo offensively, take great shots, we’re going to try to pound the ball inside to Dre’una Edwards and Olivia Owens, and obviously this offense revolves around Rhyne Howard, and players are going to have to make plays, and that’s what SEC basketball is all about.”
On Chelsea Dungee…
“She’s a talented player, she plays the four spot, and she’s versatile. She can drive to the rim, she can shoot a midrange jumper, she can pull up and hit 3s, so you have to be able to guard her on all levels, and then she just has that swag about her – the confidence and her ability to take over games is dangerous. But, she is also surrounded by Destiny Slocum who is one of the best point guards in this league. She knows how to create, she can get other people scoring opportunities on the floor, so they’re dangerous because they can all score. They’re offense, they run, they pass, cut, create for others, so it’s going to be a game of runs, we just have to settle in and get defensive stops.”
On how to evaluate Rhyne Howard since she doesn’t have to score as much as she did last year …
“Well, let’s make no mistake about it, Rhyne Howard is still the best player in women’s college basketball, and the things that make Rhyne that is that she is so versatile. She can score on all three levels, but you look at the stat sheet and she might have 10 or 12 rebounds, she might have eight or 10 assists, or eight or 10 steals, um, so, she can do anything on the court. So, you have to look at her stat line across the board. Scoring wise, she is still scoring in double digits, but you don’t need her to score as much, because, you know, now you have Blair Green who is shooting the ball well, Dre’una Edwards who is scoring on the inside, you have Chasity Patterson scoring, we’re more balanced scoring this year. But, Rhyne is playing well. We will continue to challenge her to be the best version of herself, and right now, she wants to make sure this team is winning, whatever that looks like.”
On opening up to a challenging team like Arkansas …
“Well, no matter who we play, we are going to be challenged. Like I said, the SEC is the best conference in the country, so no matter who we are going to open up with, it’s going to be a dawg fight, night-in and night-out. That’s what makes this conference what it is. Every night, from the top of the conference to the bottom of the conference, you’re going to have to grind it out, and the best team will come out on top and that’s just what it is. It just happened to be Arkansas, and they’ll have to prepare for us, just like we have to prepare for them.”
On an injury or COVID status update …
“Yes, everyone got to go home for Christmas, so they were happy. Santa Clause was good to them. I am just ecstatic that everyone made it back, and as of right now, we are COVID free.”
On Emma King starting the first two games and then being out for roughly 19 days …
“Yeah, we’re happy to have Emma back. What I love about Emma, she comes in and works day-in and day-out, so anytime a player has to sit out for COVID protocol, injury, whatever the case may be, it is an adjustment coming back, but when you have her work ethic, the motor that she has, and the willingness to give you 100 percent in practice, she will get right back in the rhythm, it won’t take her long.”

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