Following a disappointing loss in Chicago last season, No.14 Kentucky (6-2) had revenge on their mind when DePaul (8-2) entered Rupp Arena on Thursday night. With Matthew Mitchell in attendance to be recognized for his historical career, the Wildcats were hoping to impress facing a step up in competition. Unfortunately for Kyra Elzy's Cats, Deja Church and the Blue Demons had other plans in mind.
After a 10-4 start for the Wildcats, DePaul bounced back to maintain a lead throughout most of the first half, eventually taking a 48-43 led into the locker room. Despite leading in field goal percentage and free throws made in the first, it was poor three-point shooting and nine turnovers that allowed the Blue Demons to keep their lead throughout the first two periods.
At the half, the winningest coach in Kentucky Women's basketball was honored as Matthew Mitchell received framed jerseys with his name gracing the back. Mitchell was joined by his wife and children as Mitch Barnhart presented the jerseys to him at midcourt. A graceful Mitchell gave a short speech to the BBN in which he thanked his former players for all the hard work they had put in for him to receive such an honor. Coach Mitchell is only one of three Kentucky basketball coaches to reach 300 wins while coach of the Wildcats. Adolph Rupp and John Calipari are the only others who can claim such title.
Following the memorial, the Wildcats came out strong in the second half as they went on a 7-0 run before the Blue Demons could get past half court. DePaul would respond with an 10-0 run following Rhyne Howard's fourth foul early in the third. With Howard out for almost the entire quarter, the Cats were able to keep the game within distance with an eight-point deficit heading into the fourth. Robyn Benton stepped up in her place and helped spark a big run to keep things close after the Blue Demons had taken control in the middle of the third. Despite getting Howard back for the entirety of the fourth, the Wildcats were unable to crawl back into the game as DePaul imposed their will on the glass and held Kentucky without one made three-point attempt throughout the night. With the loss, Kentucky falls to 6-2 ahead of a big matchup on Sunday against archrival Louisville.
Leading Scorer: Benton, 22
Leading Rebounder: Hunt & Benton, 7
Leading Assister: Massengill, 5