Matthew Mitchell on Rhyne Howard: ‘She has a whole lot of talent’
The new-look University of Kentucky women’s basketball team will test the waters of the 2019-20 season with a schedule of 12 non-conference games that includes two opponents from the Atlantic Coast Conference and one from the Pacific-12.
The Wildcats, who must replace senior leaders Maci Morris and Taylor Murray from last season’s 25-8 squad, will be led by sophomore Rhyne Howard, who this summer won a gold medal with Team USA in the FIBA U19 World Cup in Thailand. She led the Cats in scoring and rebounding last season, when she earned national freshman of the year honors.
The highlight of the non-conference schedule comes Dec. 15 when Coach Matthew Mitchell’s team hosts archrival Louisville in Rupp Arena, one of Kentucky’s 10 non-league home games. The Cats lead the all-time series 34-21 but have lost three straight to the Cardinals.
UK’s other opponent from the ACC is Virginia. The Wildcats visit the Cavaliers on Nov. 16 to complete a home-and-home series that started with last season’s 63-51 Kentucky win in Rupp Arena.
For the fifth straight season, Kentucky will take on a foe from the Pac-12. UK’s visit to California on Dec. 21 also concludes a home-and-home. In 2017, the Golden Bears beat UK 62-52 in Memorial Coliseum.
Kentucky fans will get their first look at the Wildcats during UK’s annual Big Blue Madness celebration in Rupp Arena on Oct. 11. The Wildcats then play one exhibition, Oct. 30 at home vs. Southern Indiana, before getting down to business.
The season opener is set for Nov. 5, when UK hosts Mount St. Mary’s in Memorial Coliseum in the first-ever meeting between the two schools.
The remaining eight non-conference games are Nov. 10 at Middle Tennessee, Nov. 13 vs. Stetson, Nov. 21 vs. Morehead State, Nov. 26 vs. Grambling State, Dec. 1 vs. Austin Peay, Dec. 4 vs. Charlotte, Dec. 8 vs. Samford and Dec. 11 vs. Winthrop.
UK welcomes back several major contributors from last season’s team in Tatyana Wyatt, Jaida Roper, Blair Green, KeKe McKinney, Amanda Paschal and Ogechi Anyagaligbo. Kentucky, which finished fourth in the Southeastern Conference with an 11-5 league record, advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament before falling to North Carolina State.
UK will add incoming true freshmen Emma King (Stanford, Ky.) and Deasia Merrill (Villa Rica, Ga.) along with transfers Sabrina Haines (Arizona State), Nae Nae Cole (N.C. State) and Chasity Patterson (Texas). Dre Edwards, a transfer from Utah who was the 2019 Pac-12 Freshman of the Year, joined the Wildcats this spring but will have to sit out the 2019-20 season due to NCAA transfer rules.
UK’s 16-game Southeastern Conference slate will be announced later, however, the conference office has announced the Wildcats’ opponents. Kentucky will face Alabama, Florida and South Carolina both home and away, while Auburn, Georgia, Mississippi State, Tennessee and Texas A&M will travel to Lexington. UK’s road league games will be at Arkansas, LSU, Missouri, Ole Miss and Vanderbilt.
2019-20 UK non-conference schedule
Oct. 11: BIG BLUE MADNESS
Oct. 30: SOUTHERN INDIANA-x
Nov. 5: MOUNT ST. MARY’S
Nov. 10: At Middle Tennessee
Nov. 13: STETSON
Nov. 16: At Virginia
Nov. 21: MOREHEAD STATE
Nov. 26: GRAMBLING STATE
Dec. 1: AUSTIN PEAY
Dec. 4: CHARLOTTE
Dec. 8: SAMFORD
Dec. 11: WINTHROP
Dec. 15: LOUISVILLE-y
Dec. 21: At California
Note: Home games in all capital letters. Game times, TV assignments and SEC dates will be announced later. x-Exhibition; y-in Rupp Arena.