ATHENS, Ga. – Tatyana Wyatt scored a season-high 17 points as the 11th-ranked Kentucky women’s basketball team rallied past Georgia 56-51 on Sunday at Stegeman Coliseum.
Kentucky (24-6, 11-5 SEC) played without starting forward KeKe McKinney, who missed the game due to injury. The Cats struggled from the field for most of the game, hitting just 21 of their 56 shots (37.5 percent). But UK did hit six of 13 (46.2 percent) from behind the arc.
The difference came in the fourth quarter, when Kentucky hit eight of 16 from the floor, outscoring Georgia 23-14 to rally for a win that earns the Cats the fourth seed and a double-bye in this week’s SEC Tournament.
The Cats saw their three leading scorers on the season struggle in the game. Rhyne Howard hit just three of her nine shots for seven points, although she did grab nine rebounds. Maci Morris was two of 10 from the field for six points. And Taylor Murray made one of her two shots for three points. Murray added six assists and six rebounds.
However, UK got significant contributions from others. Amanda Paschal, starting in place of McKinney, scored eight points. Jaida Roper also had eight for the Cats, while Blair Green added five.
Kentucky scored first, on a Wyatt layup, but Georgia responded with seven straight points, keyed by three consecutive steals. The Cats would fight back to tie the game at 9-9 and 11-11, but Georgia scored the final two points of the period to lead 13-11 after one quarter.
The Cats scored the first four points of the second period to grab a 15-13 lead. Georgia would tie the game at 15-15 and 17-17 before Green nailed a three-pointer to give UK it’s biggest lead of the half, 20-17, with 5:46 until the half. But again, Georgia had the answer, scoring seven straight to take a 24-20 advantage with 4:13 remaining in the half.
Kentucky would make only one of its last seven shots in the half, but Georgia was unable to pull away. The Bulldogs led 26-23 at the break. Wyatt led the Cats with six first half points. UK made just 10 of its 29 field goals attempts (34.5 percent) in the first half and also committed 11 turnovers.
In the third period, Georgia maintained a small advantage early before Kentucky rallied to tie the game at 31 apiece on an Ogechi Anyagaligbo basket. But Georgia closed the quarter on an 8-3 run to lead 39-34 with 10 minutes to play.
Kentucky finally got its offense going early in the fourth period, going on a 9-0 run to turn a five-point deficit into a four-point lead, 43-39. Kentucky would lead by five, 47-42, before Georgia would mount a 6-2 run to cut the lead to one, 49-48. Kentucky then got a three-pointer from Howard, followed by a three from Georgia’s Taja Cole, then another three from UK’s Roper, giving the Cats a 55-51 lead with just 36 seconds remaining.
Georgia cut the lead to two, 55-53, before Morris hit a pair of clutch free throws. Georgia tried a three-pointer but missed, and Wyatt got the rebound and was fouled. Wyatt made one of two at the line with 10 seconds left to provide the final margin of victory.
Georgia (18-11, 9-7) was led by Gabby Connally, who scored a game-high 18 points.
Kentucky returns to action on Friday against an opponent to be determined in the SEC Tournament in Greenville, South Carolina. Tipoff for the game will be around 2:30 p.m. ET and the game can be seen on the SEC Network.
For more information on the Kentucky women’s basketball team, visit UKathletics.com or follow @KentuckyWBB on Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat, or Kentucky Women’s Basketball on Facebook.