The following story, written by Evan Crane, was originally published on ukathletics.com.
LEXINGTON, Ky. - For the first time in the association's history, the United States Basketball Writers Association has handed out a team of the week honor and the first recipient of the weekly superlative is the No. 10 University of Kentucky women's basketball team.
It was an impressive week overall for Kentucky (9-1, 2-0 Southeastern Conference), who began its first week of league action under first-year head coach Kyra Elzy with back-to-back wins over top-15 ranked opponents. After starting with a 75-64 win over No. 10 Arkansas, the Wildcats claimed an overtime thriller Sunday at No. 12 Mississippi State, 92-86. It was the first time since December 2013 that UK has defeated consecutive top-15 ranked opponents and the first time ever that UK has accomplished the feat against SEC opponents.
The Wildcats won both games in different ways, defeating Arkansas with its best defensive performance of the year, while it claimed the win against Mississippi State with an impressive offensive performance. Against Arkansas, UK held the Razorbacks to a season-low tying five 3s and a season-low in points. Arkansas was limited to less than 20 points in every quarter for the second time on the year.
Against Mississippi State, UK scored 92 points, going over 90 for the second time this season. The Wildcats recorded 15+ assists for the fourth straight game and won the rebounding margin for the sixth straight game. UK hit 10 3s against Arkansas and followed with a season-best 14 against Mississippi State - the first time this season it has hit 10 or more 3s in consecutive games. The Wildcats had a season-high eight blocks against Arkansas. In all, five different UK players scored in double figures during the week.
Junior guard Rhyne Howard continued to show why she is the best player in women's college basketball, leading Kentucky in scoring in both games. In the league opener vs. Arkansas, Howard scored 24 points with 10 rebounds, adding four 3s made and four assists. The 24 points was a season high before she paced Kentucky at No. 12 Mississippi State with 33 points, adding 10 rebounds, six assists, a block and a steal. Against State, Howard put the team on her back late in the game scoring 25 of her 33 points in the fourth quarter and overtime. In fact, Howard scored 25 of Kentucky's final 31 points in the game, including 10 of the team's 14 overtime points.
The weekly honors have been pouring in for the program since the wins. Monday, Elzy was named the espnW National Coach of the Week and Howard was the espnW and College Sports Madness National Player of the Week. Howard also grabbed the Naismith Trophy National Player of the Week and Southeastern Conference Player of the Week honors Tuesday.