In the first road game of the young season for the No. 13 Kentucky Wildcats, they were able to take down the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders, 67-52, in Murfreesboro, TN thanks to a scoring explosion in the third quarter.
After scoring just 22 points through the first 20 minutes of the game, Kentucky poured in 23 points before playing even seven minutes in the third period. Led by 16 points, six rebounds, and three assists from Amanda Paschal in one the best games of her career and another 12 points from Sabrina Haines, the ‘Cats pulled away in the second half as they move to 2-0 on the season.
— Kentucky WBB (@KentuckyWBB) November 10, 2019
To start things off, Middle Tennessee did a great job of creating havoc every time Kentucky touched the ball. A quick 5-2 lead for the Blue Raiders and five turnovers through the first five minutes from the ‘Cats spelled early turmoil for the road team.
At one point in the first period, Kentucky missed five straight field-goal attempts and finished the quarter with only eight total points, trailing by two. Despite MTSU going on its own scoreless streak of three minutes, UK could not find any momentum within the offense and turned the ball over a total of six times in the first 10 minutes.
Both teams combined for 11 turnovers and a shooting clip of 5-23 from the field in the first quarter and things didn’t exactly heat up after that.
While Kentucky came out in the second quarter looking much more settled – forcing turnovers and finally applying some backcourt pressure – they struggled to put up points. Rhyne Howard hit a much-needed three to start the quarter, but Kentucky only added another 14 points in that frame to take a slight 22-18 lead heading into the intermission.
MTSU went through another scoring drought in the second quarter, this time breaking the five-minute threshold without making a field goal. Both teams went into halftime with nine turnovers apiece and neither team shooting over 32 percent from the field. The Blue Raiders shot 0-4 from three in the first half and were outrebounded 11-4 in the second quarter.
Whatever head coach Matthew Mitchell said in the locker room during halftime must have worked, though, because Kentucky came out firing on all cylinders to open the second half.
Kentucky raced out to a 13-0 scoring run to kick off the half thanks to great penetration and defense from Paschal along with a breakout quarter from Ogechi Anyagaligbo.
After scoring only 22 points in the entire first half, the Wildcats caught fire for 23 points in just a little over six minutes.
The scoring contribution came from all over the court, too. Eight players scored in that period for UK with four of them adding at least four points. At one point, Kentucky made eight straight field goals and forced MTSU into six turnovers in the third quarter alone.
Heading into the final frame, the ‘Cats led 53-36 with all the momentum on its side.
MTSU opened the fourth with a quick 5-0 run, but UK quickly battled back thanks to two straight buckets from Anyagaligbo. Kentucky would push the lead to 19 points midway through the period and ultimately win the game by 15 as they head back to Lexington with a tidy road win.
KeKe McKinney showed her potential as one of the team’s best defenders, especially on the low block. The junior recorded six rebounds, four blocks, a steal and was a deterrent all night at the rim. MTSU shot only four shots in the paint all night, making just two of them.
Anyagaligbo led the team with seven rebounds while also adding 10 points on 5-7 shooting. Junior Tatyana Wyatt registered seven points and five rebounds of her own while senior Jaida Roper went for five points, four rebounds, and two assists.
Howard, the star sophomore, had another off night from the field, shooting just 2-10 for nine points to go along with three blocks. Sophomore Blair Green also contributed six points for the ‘Cats.
Middle Tennessee was led by 22 points from Anastasia Hayes.
Kentucky’s next game will be on Wednesday against Stetson in Memorial Coliseum at 7 p.m. with the game being broadcast on the SEC Network+.