Sabrina Haines scored 14 points on four-of-seven shooting from deep, and KeKe McKinney recorded a whopping five blocks to lead No. 15 Kentucky to a 66-62 victory over Alabama on Thursday night. The win was the first at home for the team since its star, Rhyne Howard, went down with injury.
“The games still count no matter who’s playing,” a satisfied Coach Mitchell said. “I think we’re learning a lot during this time; I think you’re seeing some players step up and give some tremendous performances.”
It was another tough start for the Cats. The senior-laden starting lineup opened a dismal 1-of-11 from the field. Kentucky (18-4, 7-3 SEC) began to heat up towards the end of the quarter, starting with a Chasity Patterson pull up jumper from the elbow. Sabrina Haines then hit threes on consecutive possessions to help the Wildcats build up a 14-10 advantage after one.
Alabama (13-10, 3-7 SEC) went an efficient four-of-nine in the first quarter, but the Cats were tenacious on the defensive end. They forced six Crimson Tide turnovers in the opening period, which was how many Kentucky had in the entire game.
KeKe McKinney and Chasity Patterson dominated the second quarter for Kentucky, scoring 14 of the team’s 17 points in the frame. McKinney went 3-of-4 with a three, while Patterson shot 3-of-5 to put the Cats up 31-27 at the break.
Kentucky was able to push it to a 10-point lead at the beginning of the second half, but the Crimson Tide closed it to two. As the third quarter ended, Sabrina Haines knocked down a three at the buzzer, making it a five-point game.
Haines started the last quarter in the same fashion by nailing another three, and the defensive prowess continued as Alabama began the final quarter 2-of-14 from the field. McKinney had three of her blocks in the span of a couple minutes in that stretch.
The Crimson Tide would not go away though, eventually getting within three at 57-54. Tatyana Wyatt then put in a bucket before Sabrina Haines stole the ball and drove back down for a layup. The sequence concluded with a Wyatt three-point play that forced the crowd into a frenzy and gave Kentucky a lead it would not lose.
Jasmine Walker led Alabama with 17 points on 7-of-12 shooting. Kentucky now looks to an upcoming battle with No. 25 Arkansas on Sunday. Tip is set for 4 p.m. ET with ESPN2 controlling the broadcast.