No. 11 Kentucky 81, Middle Tennessee State 72

Kentucky had to overcome a 10-point deficit to and survive a serious scare to get past Middle Tennessee 81-72 on Wednesday night.
After the Raiders went up by 10 points, No. 11 UK went on a 27-8 run to put the game out of reach. The rally was fueled by the Cats’ pressure defense, which seemed non-existent during much of the game.
Victoria Dunlap, who didn’t have a point or a rebound in the first half after sitting the final eight minutes in foul trouble, found her shot in the second half. She scored 13 points and had five boards for the Cats (10-1). She had seven points of a 13-2 run that gave UK its first lead of the second half with 4:30 to go. Keyla Snowden led UK with 16 points, including four three-pointers. A’dia Mathies added 15 points and four assists.
Kentucky won its 24th straight game at Memorial Coliseum.
Former Paul Laurence Dunbar star Ebony Rowe put on a show, matching her career best with 25 points and 11 rebounds for her third straight double-double. The freshman was the Raiders’ only offense in the final seven minutes of the game. She scored their final 10 points.
The loss halted a three-game win streak for the Raiders (9-4).
Kentucky seemed in control early, grabbing a 13-point on a Maegan Conwright three-pointer with 9:56 to go in the first half. Conwright’s three capped a 7-for-7 trey display for the Cats, but then things started to unravel.
Dunlap got in foul trouble and sat the final eight minutes of the half. Her first half stat line was not her best work. She had zero points, zero rebounds and four turnovers.
With the senior star out, UK sputtered on both ends of the floor, allowing the Blue Raiders to use a 12-1 rally that got them within two points before a Barnette three-pointer ended the drought.
The Raiders’ momentum carried over into the second half as they scored 17 straight (over two halves) to grab a 52-41 lead with 15:35 to play.

No. 11 Kentucky (9-1) vs. Middle Tennessee (9-3)

Pretty good crowd here at Memorial Coliseum despite the early 6 p.m. start time. Story lines abound tonight, including MTSU head coach Rick Insell being the father of Kentucky assistant coach Matt Insell. Also, former Paul Laurence Dunbar standout Ebony Rowe is back home. The freshman forward leads Middle in scoring and rebounding coming into tonight’s game. Finally, the Raiders are the team that halted UK’s 11-game win streak to start last season. The returning Cats likely will remember that.

  • Defense driving offense and UK is up 73-68 with 2:47 to go.
  • Cats are on a 13-2 roll since falling behind by 10 points. Carly Morrow’s 15 footer gives UK 67-66 lead with 4:30 to go.
  • MTSU has its largest lead of the game 64-54 with 6:40 to play.
  • It’s been four minutes since UK has scored and the Raiders have scored seven straight. They lead 62-54 with 7:53 to go.
  • Kentucky trails 54-49 with 12:58 left.
  • Dunlap scores her first points of the game with 14:37 to go, directly following a Snowden three-pointer and UK trailes 52-46 with 14:21 left in the contest.
  • With 16:02 to go in the game, UK trails 50-41 after three straight three-pointers from three different Raiders. They made just four in the first half. UK has missed its first six shots.
  • Middle Tennessee now has a 44-41 lead and Dunlap has her third foul, just two minutes into the second half. Anne Marie Lanning’s three-pointer causes Matthew Mitchell to call for a timeout.
  • HALFTIME: KENTUCKY 41, MIDDLE TENNESSEE 39: No Dunlap for the final eight minutes of the half has been bad for UK. The senior star has no points and no boards for Kentucky, either. Barnette leads all UK scorers with nine points and five rebounds. Ebony Rowe leads all scorers with 10 points.
  • Cats ended a 12-1 Middle Tennessee run (that got them within two points) with a Sarah Beth Barnette three-pointer. The Lexington Christian star has made three of her four attempts. UK’s been beaten down the floor on two straight possessions and MTSU has cut it to 41-36 with 30 seconds to go in the first half.
  • Things not going quite as swimmingly for Cats in the last four minutes. Dunlap, Samantha Drake and Maegan Conwright each picked up two fouls and have been sitting. At one point, UK had four freshmen and A’dia Mathies in the game at the same time. Since Dunlap left at the 7:49 mark, Middle is on a 9-1 run and has cut it to 36-31 with 3:44 to play in the first half.
  • With 8:44 remaining in the first half, UK has now hit all seven three-pointers it has attempted and leads 31-22 over MTSU.
  • UK has made all five of the three-pointers it has attempted and leads 21-11 with 11:51 left in the first half. Cats are hitting 77.8 percent from the field overall.
  • Cats have a 15-6 advantage with 15:29 to go in the first half. They are a perfect 5-for-5 from the field, including three made thee-pointers, two from Keyla Snowden, the reigning Southeatern Conference Player of the Week for her career-high 28 points last game.

About Jennifer Smith

Jen Smith has been a sports writer at the Herald-Leader since 2000, covering everything from high school sports to auto racing to various University of Kentucky sports. A native of Louisville and a graduate of the University of Kentucky (much to the dismay of her Louisville graduate mother and Indiana graduate father), Jen now resides in downtown Lexington with her husband and two young sons. You can follow her on Twitter @jenheraldleader or send her an email at jsmith3@herald-leader.com.
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