Kentucky's Rhyne Howard debuts after suspension, struggles from field

Kentucky junior guard Rhyne Howard, the ESPN.com national preseason player of the year, made her 2020-21 debut Thursday after missing the No. 11 Wildcats' first two games because of a suspension.

In a 60-49 victory at Kansas State, Howard started and played 37 minutes. She finished with eight points on 3-of-14 shooting from the field, with six rebounds and two steals. Howard, who made 158 3-pointers in her first two seasons, missed all seven of her attempts Thursday.

"I thought she got frustrated when her shots weren't going in, but Rhyne is a talented player. She will work the kinks out," Kentucky interim coach Kyra Elzy said. "Even though her shots weren't going in, she still buckled down defensively, she got rebounds, and she had some unbelievable passes to help other people score."

Howard, a 6-foot-2 guard who averaged 23.4 points last season, was suspended on Nov. 25 for not upholding program standards. Howard did not speak on Kentucky's postgame Zoom call Thursday, but Elzy said before the game she was pleased with how Howard handled the suspension.

"The thing about Rhyne is that she has held herself accountable the whole time," Elzy said. "She has taken responsibility for her actions. She has apologized to the staff and team for putting us in this position, and I commend her for that.

"I don't want her to feel like she has to go out and make heroic plays. I just want her to play good basketball and do the things that she does best, and greatness will come out."

On Sunday, the Wildcats are host to No. 13 Indiana (ESPNU, 4 p.m. ET).