Kentucky to travel to Kansas State for 2020 SEC/Big 12 Challenge
The University of Kentucky women's basketball team's 2020-21 schedule is starting to come together and will feature the Wildcats' first appearance in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge in several years as UK will travel to play Kansas State as part of the event, the league offices announced Thursday.
The game will be played in Manhattan, Kan., inside Bramlage Coliseum with date, tip time and TV selection still to be determined by the league offices. Those details will be released at a later date. This will be the first meeting between Kentucky and Kansas State in women's basketball. UK has played several games in the state of Kansas before, facing off at Kansas and at Wichita State.
Ten teams from the Southeastern Conference participate while every team from the Big 12 takes part in the challenge each season. The inaugural challenge was held in 2014 with the first 10-game slate in 2016. The SEC edged the Big 12, 6-4 that year, with the conferences splitting the challenge, 5-5, in 2017 and 2018. The Big 12 took home the trophy last season.
UK took part in the challenge in 2016 and 2017, defeating Oklahoma inside Memorial Coliseum the first year before falling at Baylor the following year. The Wildcats have not been in the challenge the last two years. K-State is 2-2 in the challenge, defeating Auburn in 2016 and Vanderbilt in 2018, both at home, while it dropped road contests at Missouri in 2017 and at Arkansas in 2019.
The Wildcats will return a large portion of their production for 2020-21 even with the departure of five seniors. Kentucky will be led by first-team All-America honoree Rhyne Howard, who finished second nationally in scoring last season with 23.4 points per game while she hit a school-record 84 3-pointers during the year. Also returning will be guard Chasity Patterson, who averaged 11.5 points in 19 games last season while guard Blair Green will also return after averaging 5.8 points per game. In the post, UK returns KeKe McKinney, who averaged 6.5 points and 4.7 rebounds, and Tatyana Wyatt, who averaged 5.5 points and 3.7 rebounds. Guard Emma King also returns after playing in 15 games last year.
Several players will return to the team but did not see time last year due to injury or NCAA transfer rules. Guard Kameron Roach headlines that list after she tore her Achilles at the end of her sophomore season and used last year to rehab and regain strength. Freshman post-Deasia Merrill missed last season due to sustaining a season-ending knee injury and should provide depth in the post next year while 2019 Pac-12 Freshman of the Year Dre'una Edwards figures to have a big season for the Wildcats in 2020-21 after missing last season due to NCAA transfer rules. Edwards transferred to UK last May after an impressive rookie campaign at Utah.
The Wildcats will also welcome three impressive freshmen to campus in MaxPreps Tennessee Player of the Year Treasure Hunt and all-state honorees Erin Toller and Niya Leveretter. Hunt, Toller and Leveretter signed National Letters of Intent to play at Kentucky back in November and make up a top-20 recruiting class in the nation according to ESPN.com. Hunt was picked to play in the exclusive Jordan Brand Classic and McDonald's All-American Game, while Leveretter and Toller were both honored as nominees for the McDonald's All-American Game.
Two highly touted transfers will be on the roster in 2020-21 but will have to sit out the year due to NCAA transfer rules. Tennessee transfer Jazmine Massengill and Auburn transfer Robyn Benton both became Wildcats in April and are expected to make significant contributions to the program when eligible.