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  • Kentucky women's team prepares to face Tennessee

    LEXINGTON, Ky. – The No. 16 University of Kentucky women’s basketball team continues its challenging road stretch to start Southeastern Conference play as it travels to face its second straight top-15 ranked team Thursday at 7 p.m. ET vs. No. 13 Tennessee inside Thompson-Boiling Arena.

    The game will be televised on the SEC Network with Paul Sunderland and Debbie Antonelli on the call. The action can also be seen through WatchESPN on computers, smartphones or tablets. Darren Headrick will have the call on the UK Sports Network on 630 AM in Lexington. Live stats and free live audio will be available online at UKathletics.com.

    Kentucky (14-2, 1-1 SEC) is coming off a loss at No. 7 Mississippi State on Sunday. The Wildcats fell behind by double digits in the first quarter and could never find enough momentum to get the score under 10 points the rest of the game, falling 86-71. UK had some encouraging moments during the loss, including forcing Mississippi State into a season-high 24 turnovers and scoring 28 points off those miscues. The Wildcats had 15 steals and won the battle of the bench, 16-9. Senior guard Maci Morris led Kentucky with 20 points while freshman guard Rhyne Howard had 15 points with six assists and five rebounds.

    Howard, who won her school-record fifth SEC Freshman of the Week honor Tuesday, leads Kentucky in scoring and rebounding this season averaging 17.4 points and 7.0 rebounds per game. The native of Cleveland, Tenn., ranks second on the team in assists, blocks, steals and 3-pointers. Morris leads Kentucky in 3-pointers with 43, adding 21 assists, 21 steals and 11 blocks. Fellow senior guard Taylor Murray averages 13.1 points per game and leads Kentucky with 67 assists and 59 steals. Junior guard Jaida Roper is averaging 8.7 points per game and is hitting 42.2 percent from 3 this season.

    Tennessee enters Thursday’s game with a 12-2 overall record and 1-1 mark in league play. The Lady Vols won at Auburn to start conference play before a 66-64 loss to Missouri in Knoxville on Sunday. UT is 7-2 at home this season with losses to Mizzou and Stanford. As a team, the Lady Vols are scoring 81.1 points per game this season, hitting 44.5 percent from the field and 35.3 percent from long range. Tennessee has a +11.7 rebounding margin and +3.0 turnover margin this season, forcing teams into 19.8 turnovers per game.

    Individually, sophomore guard Rennia Davis leads the Lady Vols by averaging 15.5 points per game and 8.4 rebounds per game, adding 20 steals. Sophomore guard Evina Westbrook is also averaging 15.5 points per game with a team-best 74 assists. Senior guard Meme Jackson has hit a team-best 36 3-pointers and is averaging 13.9 points per game with 28 steals and 32 assists.

    Tennessee leads the all-time series in games played against UK, 55-11, including a 23-3 mark in games played in Knoxville. The Lady Vols have won six of the last seven meetings in the series, including each of the last two meetings. UK is 10-48 against a ranked Tennessee team. The Lady Vols defeated the Wildcats 63-49 last season inside Rupp Arena. UK’s last win against Tennessee was a 64-63 decision in January of 2016 inside Memorial Coliseum. The Wildcat’s last win in Knoxville vs. Tennessee was 75-71 on Feb. 16, 2014.