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No. 23 Wildcats Host Florida Thursday


LEXINGTON, Ky. – The No. 23 University of Kentucky women’s basketball team will look to get back in the win column Thursday as it plays host to Florida for a 7 p.m. ET tip inside Memorial Coliseum. The game will serve as UK’s annual We Back Pat Game as the program looks to raise awareness for Alzheimer’s.

UK's Rhyne Howard in action against the Lady Vols earlier this week. (UK Athletics Photo)

Single-game tickets are $10 (all ages) in reserved seating areas, while general admission tickets are $8 for adults and $5 for children (ages 6-18) and seniors (age 65+). Children aged 5 and under do not require a ticket in general admission areas. Tickets are available for purchase at UKathletics.com/tickets. For more on mobile tickets, visit UKathletics.com/mobiletickets.

Thursday’s game will be broadcast live on SEC Network with Eric Frede and Tamika Catchings on the call. Darren Headrick will have the call on the UK Sports Network (630AM in Lexington). Live stats and free live audio will be available online at UKathletics.com.

Regardless of vaccination status, all guests will be required to wear a mask while visiting Memorial Coliseum. Fans will not be required to show proof of vaccination to enter, but face coverings – covering the nose and mouth – are required for all fans as they watch the game from their seat and enter, exit, and move around Memorial Coliseum. Children 2 and younger will not be required to wear a mask. If spectators are unable to wear masks, they are encouraged not to attend in person for the sake of their health and the health of others.

Doors to Memorial Coliseum will open one hour prior to tip. All bags must adhere to the UK Athletics Clear Bag policy. All bags and items will be searched. To avoid additional touch points, fans are strongly encouraged to not bring unnecessary bags to Memorial Coliseum. More on UK Athletics’ Clear Bag policy can be found online, here.

Parking for games is available starting three hours prior to tip off in a majority of surface lots surrounding Memorial Coliseum, including the High Street Lot, East Maxwell Lot, Joe Craft Center Lot, College View Lot, Alumni Center Lot and Career Center Lot. The Cornerstone Garage and Parking Structure 2 open two hours prior to tip. The Gatton Student Center Lot is pay-to-park while all other parking options are free. The JCC Lot is primarily used limited mobility/handicap parking. No shuttles are being offered from any lot this season.

Kentucky (8-5, 1-2 Southeastern Conference) is coming off two straight losses on the road to top-five teams, falling Jan. 9 at No. 1/1 South Carolina and Jan. 16 at No. 5/6 Tennessee. The Wildcats have played three straight games against top-15 ranked teams, winning the first of those meetings on Jan. 6 vs. No. 15/14 Georgia. UK took down the Bulldogs, 84-76 inside Memorial Coliseum in what was arguably its best performance of the year.

Even after two disappointing offensive performances, Kentucky ranks as one of the best offensive teams in the SEC. The Wildcats rank 20th in the nation and third in the SEC in field-goal percentage at 45.8 percent, while its scoring offense of 76.2 points per game is second in the league and top-30 nationally. UK is also 19th in the nation in assists per game at 17.2 and 20th in the nation in blocks per game at 5.2.

Senior guard Rhyne Howard is averaging 19.2 points and 6.4 rebounds per game this season, while she is second on the team with 51 assists and leads the team with 42 steals and 15 blocks. Redshirt junior Dre’una Edwards is averaging 15.9 points per game with 7.7 rebounds per game, shooting 53.3 percent from the field. Senior guard Robyn Benton and freshman guard Jada Walker are having great seasons as both are averaging double-figure scoring at 11.3 and 10.5 points per game, respectively.

Florida (13-5, 3-2 SEC) enters Thursday’s game on a three-game winning streak with wins over Texas A&M, Auburn and Alabama. The three-game SEC winning streak is the first for the Gators program since 2015-16. Florida is averaging 69.3 points per game this season while limiting opponents to just 65.0 points per game. Graduate guard Kiara Smith is the team’s leading scorer, averaging 13.2 points per game with 79 assist and 47 steals. Sophomore forward Jordyn Merritt is the only other Gator averaging double-figure scoring at 10.5 points per game with 5.1 rebounds per game and a team-best 19 3s.

Kentucky leads the all-time series in games played vs. Florida, 34-26, with Thursday being the 61st all-time meeting. UK owns a 16-11 lead in games played in Lexington. UK has won 19 of the last 26 meetings, seven of the last eight and two straight. The two teams met twice last season with UK earning a 88-80 win at Florida and a 73-64 win in the second round of the SEC Tournament. The last win for Florida in the series was in Lexington, defeating the Wildcats 70-62 on Feb. 2, 2020. That was UF’s first win in Lexington since a 83-73 win on Jan. 5, 2014.

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