Kentucky returned to action on Sunday at Rupp Arena to take on the red hot Ole Miss Rebels. The Wildcats were once again without Dre’Una Edwards who is still out for disciplinary reasons. Unfortunately for Kyra Elzy’s Cats, the absence of Edwards once again spelled bad news.
Ole Miss came out of the gates strong with a 13-1 run to start the game. Kentucky looked lost on both ends of the floor following the first 5 minutes. The Wildcats finally found some energy and cut their deficit to 4 at 13-9 before Ole Miss extended their lead back out to 18-9. This first quarter trend would be one that stayed consistent throughout the game. For every punch Kentucky would make, Ole Miss would punch back just a little harder.
Ole Miss was clinging to a 28-25 lead at halftime as Kentucky turned up the defensive intensity in the second quarter. The Wildcats forced the Rebels into turnover problems and only allowed 10 points during the 10 minute time period.
Kentucky and Ole Miss would trade blows in the second half, highlighted by impressive performances from Kentucky’s Rhyne Howard and Ole Miss’ Shakira Austin. Howard tallied a double-double for the Wildcats with 24 points and 10 rebounds and Austin turned in a more efficient 24 points and added 8 rebounds.
When the buzzer sounded at Rupp Arena on Sunday, Kentucky was once again on the wrong side of the scoreboard, falling to Ole Miss 63-54.
A sliver lining in this game was the energy that Kentucky played with. Following three consecutive blowout losses, it would have been easy for the Wildcats to pack it in following a horrendous start that found them down 13-1. Kentucky did not lay down, they fought the entire way, but were just unable to get over the hump.
Kentucky is now in no position to be in the NCAA tournament. In fact, their current trajectory would have them playing on day one of the SEC tournament. For Kentucky to end this season right, the winning has to start now. The SEC is the toughest conference in women’s college basketball, so Kyra Elzy and the staff cannot anticipate any breaks in competition.