The Grambling State Tigers (1-5) gave the No. 14 Kentucky Wildcats (6-0) quite a scare through the first five minutes but exploded in the final three quarters as they cruise to an easy 81-35 win at Memorial Colisuem on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving.
Led by a season-high of 27 points – just two off her career-high – from sophomore Rhyne Howard, Kentucky outscored Grambling State 42-11 in the second and third quarters combined. Sophomore Blair Green posted her second straight 12 point game while senior Jaida Roper added 10 points and seven assists with just one turnover.
Howard was also honored before the game for her efforts in leading Team USA to its second straight gold medal in Bangkok this past summer.
— Kentucky WBB (@KentuckyWBB) November 27, 2019
The ‘Cats shot a season-high 49.1 percent from the field which they coupled with a 34.5 percent mark from three on 29 attempts. UK was able to hold GSU to just 29.8 percent shooting on the night and did not give up one made triple (0-8). Kentucky also forced Grambling State into 25 turnovers and won the rebounding battle 37-26.
Grambling State opened up the game with a simple approach: break the press down early and often. In the first quarter, nearly all of the Tigers points came as a result of dropping in deep passes over the Wildcat full-court press for easy layups. GSU shot 6-13 in the first frame, scoring 12 points with 10 of them coming in the paint.
Taking an early 4-2 lead four minutes into the game, the Grambling State zone defense was giving Kentucky all sorts of fits. The ‘Cats coughed the ball up three times before the first media timeout. But once UK came out of the break, they knocked down three straight shots while shifting back and forth between a zone defense and man-to-man.
UK shot 8-15 in the first quarter, giving them a 20-12 lead entering the second period.
The next 10 minutes was arguably the best stretch of the season for the ‘Cats. Kentucky dominated that period with a 22-5 advantage thanks to 6-11 shooting from the field.
But it wasn’t the offense that kick-started the massive run. Kentucky’s stout full-court press was creating an endless amount of easy looks. In the second quarter alone, the ‘Cats forced GSU into six turnovers before they were even able to cross halfcourt. The Tigers turned the ball over a total of 10 times in that frame, mostly due to body-to-body pressure from Kentucky.
A swat from junior KeKe McKinney right before the halftime buzzer filled the entire arena with an echo of her palm drilling the ball out of bounds and Kentucky walked into the locker room with a 42-17 lead.
From then on, the game was nothing but the blue-and-white.
Kentucky started the third period on a 13-5 run to keep Grambling State out of striking distance and pushed the lead to 39 points right before the end of the third quarter. UK would add another 19 points in the final quarter with nine of coming from Howard, extending the lead to as many as 48 points before sealing the game with a 81-35 victory.
McKinney stuffed the state sheet, adding nine points, six rebounds, two assists, four blocks, and three steals while senior Sabrina Haines contributed nine points, as well, with five rebounds and two made threes.
Grambling State’s three leading scorers – Justice Coleman, Candice Parramore, and Brandi Washington – were held to a combined 13 points on 6-22 shooting with eight turnovers.
The Lady Cats will take a few days off to spend time with the team for Thanksgiving before they head back to Memorial Colisuem to take on Austin Peay at 4 p.m. on Sunday.