Following a two week pause, Kentucky was able to get back on the court in front of an empty Memorial Coliseum against 15th ranked Georgia. The intense winter storm that ravaged the bluegrass led to the University of Kentucky only allowing in “essential personnel“ for the game. Given last season‘s attendance due to COVID, the odd environment may have been one that wasn’t too much to get over.
While it was a close game throughout, Kentucky was able to maintain a lead the entire night, leading at the end of every quarter. Late in the fourth, Georgia closed the Cats’ lead to one point at 77-76, before Kentucky was able to close out the night on a run and secure an 84-76 win.
Make no mistake about it, Kentucky needed a win in a bad way. A day after being named to the Wooden Award mid-season watch list, Rhyne Howard led the way for Kentucky‘s first ranked win of the season. The Wildcats’ star senior exploded for a 30-point performance along with a team high five rebounds.
Howard got some much needed help from Dre’Una Edwards and Jada Walker. Edwards filled up the stat sheet with 17 points, 5 rebounds, and 5 assists while Walker‘s efficiency from three provided the Wildcats with spacing. Walker was inserted back into the starting lineup despite coming off the bench most of the season.
This victory was crucial for Kyra Elzy‘s squad. Getting off to a hot start in SEC play will be crucial for the Wildcats following a disappointing performance throughout non-conference play. Three of Kentucky’s first four conference opponents are against ranked teams, and picking up some momentum at home was a great way to start this brutal stretch.