KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Ariel Massengale scored 17 points to end her slump and No. 6 Tennessee overcame the loss of starting center Isabelle Harrison to beat No. 10 Kentucky 72-58 on Sunday.
Harrison, the Lady Vols’ top scorer and rebounder, was carried off the court early in the second half after her right leg and right knee twisted awkwardly as she battled for a rebound. Tennessee also lost Jordan Reynolds, who was hit in the nose Thursday in a victory at Mississippi. She started Sunday, but left two minutes into the game and didn’t return.
Tennessee (22-3, 12-0 SEC) won its 18th straight home game and 19th consecutive SEC contest.
Massengale had scored a total of one point and had shot a combined 0 for 11 from the floor in the two games leading up to this one.
Makayla Epps scored 13 points for Kentucky (19-6, 8-4). Jennifer O’Neill had 13 points, while Bria Goss and Linnae Harper each added 10.
Cierra Burdick had 14 points and nine rebounds for Tennessee. Bashaara Graves had 11 points and nine rebounds, and Andraya Carter also had 11 points.
This series has turned into arguably the SEC’s most competitive women’s basketball rivalry.
In its last trip to Knoxville, Kentucky beat the Lady Vols 75-71 on Feb. 16, 2014, to hand them their most recent home loss and SEC setback. Tennessee had won the previous two matchups in this series by one point each, a 71-70 victory in last season’s SEC tournament championship game and a 73-72 squeaker in Lexington on Jan. 29.
This game was just as tightly contested until Tennessee pulled away down the stretch.
After trailing by as many as nine points early on, Kentucky rallied and briefly owned the lead before the first half ended in a 31-all tie. The game continued going back and forth early in the second half before a Massengale 3-pointer put Tennessee ahead for good at 40-38 with 14:59 left.
Tennessee eventually built a 51-40 advantage. Kentucky rallied to get the margin down to four with eight minutes left, but Tennessee outscored the Wildcats 16-6 the rest of the way.
Kentucky: In eight games since taking over as Kentucky’s starting point guard, Epps has averaged 20 points, 4.8 rebounds and 3 assists per game.
Tennessee: Massengale’s 17 points increased her career total to 1,009, making her the third Lady Vol to join the 1,000-point club this season. Harrison and Graves had reached that career mark earlier.
Kentucky hosts No. 15 Texas A&M on Thursday.
Tennessee hosts Alabama on Thursday.