LEXINGTON, Ky. — No. 16/19 Tennessee outscored Kentucky 21-9 in the third quarter to erase an 11-point halftime deficit but couldn’t hold off a No. 20/18 UK team that went a perfect 5-of-5 from behind the arc in the fourth quarter, falling 71-56 in Rupp Arena on Thursday night.
Junior Rae Burrell was the high scorer for the Lady Vols (12-4, 6-2 SEC), turning in 22 points and six rebounds. Sophomore Jordan Horston pitched in 11 points and three assists, and redshirt-junior Jordan Walker led the team in rebounding with nine boards.
UT played without all-star senior forward Rennia Davis, who did not make the trip to Lexington due to medical reasons.
Chasity Patterson had the hot hand for the Wildcats (14-5, 7-4 SEC) with 21 points, and Jazmine Massengill turned in 11.
Burrell was the first to score, hitting a layup in the opening seconds to set off a back-and-forth affair that would feature three lead changes and a tie before the media timeout, at which point UT was up 6-5. The Wildcats took the lead off a trey by Blair Green following the break, and Olivia Owens stretched their lead to four with a jumper a minute later. Burrell ended the UK run with a layup, but the Wildcats were back up by five less than a minute later. Freshman Destiny Salary narrowed the gap by converting on a three-point play to end the quarter with UT within two at 13-11.
Kentucky opened the second period with a 7-2 run to lead by seven a minute in, but Horston and Burrell combined to cut it to back to two by the 7:36 mark. Tatyana Wyatt knocked down a 3-pointer on the next possession, and Tamari Key responded with a layup before UK embarked on a 12-0 spree spanning three and a half minutes to lead 35-20 with just under two and a half minutes left in the half. Burrell and Tess Darby accounted for six-straight points to cut the deficit to single digits, but Patterson knocked down a jumper for Kentucky to send the home team into the locker at halftime with a 37-26 lead.
Kasiyahna Kushkituah scored just 12 seconds into the second half, and Key followed it up less than a minute later to cut the Wildcats’ lead to seven. Rhyne Howard ended the UK drought with a fast-break layup, but Burrell answered with a trey on the other end to make the score 39-33 with 7:48 left in the quarter. Horston added a pair of free throws 30 seconds later, and Burrell and Key each hit layups to stretch UT’s run to 9-0 and tie the score at 39-all by the 5:54 mark. Following a Kentucky timeout, Kushkituah hit a pair of free throws to give UT its first lead since midway through the first quarter at 41-39, and on the next possession, Burrell nailed a trey to put UT up by six. Key knocked down the second of a pair of free throws to extend UT’s run to 15-0 before Massengill hit a three-pointer to end the UK slump and cut the gap to 45-42 with just under three minutes left in the quarter. Kentucky outscored UT by two in the final minutes of the period, narrowing the Lady Vols’ lead to one at 47-46.
The Wildcats reclaimed the lead at the outset of the fourth off a Wyatt jumper, setting off a 7-0 run that spanned almost three minutes and put the Wildcats up 53-47 with 7:07 left in the game. Kushkituah ended the skid with a layup, and Horston added a jumper less than a minute later to cut it to two by the 5:51 mark. The teams traded buckets on the next two possessions, but Patterson and Massengill then combined for five-straight points that gave Kentucky a seven-point advantage with four minutes to go in the game. Horston hit one of a set of free throws to cut it down to six, but that’s as close as the Lady Vols would get. The Wildcats were hot from the floor, closing out the game with three-straight 3-pointers to take a 71-56 victory.
Up Next: The Lady Vols will play the second of three-straight road games on Sunday, traveling to No. 6/5 Texas A&M for a 3 p.m. ET/2 p.m. CT matchup on ESPN.
Make It Rain, Rae: Junior Rae Burrell poured in a game-high 22 points against Kentucky, marking the fifth time this season she has scored 20+ points. She is averaging a team-leading 17.6 ppg. against SEC opponents this season.
TK Swatting: With six blocked shots vs. Kentucky, sophomore Tamari Key now has tallied 16 swats over the last two contests, moving her SEC average to 3.4 bpg, a number that ranks second in the SEC behind only South Carolina’s Aliyah Boston (4.0 bpg.).