NASHVILLE, Tn. — Despite entering the game as an underdog, the Kentucky Wildcats never trailed, defeating the LSU Tigers 78-63 in the quarterfinals of the SEC Tournament. Rhyne Howard led the way with 32 points, shooting 11-18 from the floor, 6-8 from three-point land and 4-4 from the free throw line.
Treasure Hunt and Dre'Una Edwards each finished with 13 points, while Robyn Benton added 11.
The Cats are riding an 8-0 win streak, and they'll have the chance to make it nine Saturday evening in the SEC Tournament semifinals.
The Wildcats were locked in from the start, and UK had already built a 25-13 lead by the end of the first quarter. Big Blue Nation collectively held its breath when Howard limped off the court with what appeared to be a rolled ankle, but she soon returned to action after being treated by UK's trainers on the bench.
By halftime, Kentucky had stretched its lead to 45-25, thanks in large part to a barrage of three-pointers throughout the first 20 minutes of play. Howard connected on 5-of-6 from deep in the first half, Hunt hit two, and Benton added one of her own.
HALF: Kentucky leads by 20 👀— BBN Tonight (@BBNTonight) March 5, 2022
UK - 45
LSU - 25
Rhyne Howard leads all scorers with 19 points. As a team, the Cats are shooting 55% from the floor + 62% from deep
As a team, the Cats were shooting 55 percent from the floor and 65 percent from behind-the-arc at the break.
The Tigers tried to stage a comeback in the third quarter, and their efforts significantly cut into Kentucky's lead as the Cats offense cooled. LSU outscored the Wildcats 21-12 in the third period, at one point going on a 7-0 run to get within nine points of the Cats. Edwards ended UK's drought with a bucket near the end of the third quarter and scored the first points of the final quarter, as well.
Loses her shoe ➡️ still hits it 😤 @howard_rhyne— Kentucky WBB (@KentuckyWBB) March 5, 2022
📱 https://t.co/OMqJHyND6w#CommitToIt x #SECWBB pic.twitter.com/QJPLxb7evm
Kentucky put its foot back on the gas in the fourth quarter, outscoring the Tigers 21-17 in the final ten minutes.
After the Cats blocked an LSU 3-pointer and no foul was called on the play, Tigers coach Kim Mulkey confronted the referees and made her way toward half court. A technical foul was given to the LSU bench, and Howard drained both of her free throws to hit the 30-point mark for the evening.
LSU given a “team” technical for Kim Mulkey’s outburst. Rhyne Howard drains her free throws.— Maggie Davis (@MaggieDavisTV) March 5, 2022
She’s up to 30 points https://t.co/L04c2zRrkJ pic.twitter.com/OEauQ5szk0
Up next, Kentucky will play the tournament's No. 3 seed, the Tennessee Volunteers. Tip-off is set for approximately 7:30 p.m. ET Saturday night on the SEC Network. LEX18 Sports will have you covered with the latest.