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Harper and No. 2 Kentucky rout Tennessee State 97-52

LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) — Linnae Harper scored 16 points to lead No. 2 seed Kentucky to a 97-52 win over Tennessee State on Friday in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

The Wildcats (24-9) advance to the second round of the Albany Regional and will host Dayton on Sunday. The Flyers (26-6) defeated Iowa State 78-66 in the first game of the doubleheader.

Harper led six players in double figures for the Wildcats. Alexis Jennings followed Harper with 15 points while Jennifer O’Neill, Bria Goss and Makayla Epps had 13 points each. Jaycee Cole added 10 for the Wildcats.

Kentucky wasted no time disposing of the Lady Tigers and used a 16-0 run in the first 10 minutes to turn a 3-3 tie into a 19-3 advantage. O’Neill scored five points during the spurt and tallied 11 points in the first half.

A 3-pointer by O’Neill with eight minutes remaining in the first half gave the Wildcats a 28-6 advantage and put the Kentucky in a comfort zone. In addition to the outside shooting of O’Neill, forward Alexis Jennings gave the Wildcats a 1-2 punch in the post in the first half. Jennings led Kentucky with 12 in the first half.

Kentucky made seven of its nine 3-point shots in the first half and finished 29 of 59 overall from the field for 49 percent. O’Neill made three of her team’s eight shots from long range.

Tennessee State had just nine field goals in the first half and struggled against Kentucky’s pressure defense. The Wildcats forced 17 turnovers and scored 13 points off those miscues.

Brianna Lawrence led Tennessee State with 16 points. Briana Morrow followed with 11 points for the Lady Tigers.

TIP-INS

Kentucky: The Wildcats improved to 9-3 overall as No. 2 seed and 17-11 overall in the tournament . … Kentucky defeated the Lady Tigers 87-75 on Jan. 28 but were without O’Neill and Bria Goss. O’Neill and Goss combined for 26 points in the second meeting between the two teams.

Tennessee State: The Lady Tigers fell to 0-3 overall in the tournament and lost for the first time since a 63-50 loss to Jacksonville State on Jan. 31. … Inman, who previously coached at Middle Tennessee State and nearby Eastern Kentucky University, fell to 3-13 overall in games played against Kentucky. He split four games while at Middle Tennessee and was 1-9 at Eastern.

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