No. 25 Lady Vols upset Bradley’s Howard, No. 12 Kentucky
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (UT Athletics) – The No. 25 Lady Vols rolled to a commanding victory over No. 12 Kentucky on Sunday, winning 70-53 in Thompson-Boling Arena.
The win was UT’s third victory over a top-15 team this season, its highest number of wins over ranked opponents since the 2017-18 season.
Tennessee (10-3, 4-1 SEC) was led in scoring by sophomore Tamari Key, who posted a career-high 19 points on 8-of-10 shooting. Senior Rennia Davis turned in a double-double with 15 points and a career-high 20 rebounds. Junior Rae Burrell and senior Kasiyahna Kushkituah were also in double digits with 13 and 11, respectively.
Chasity Patterson was the high scorer for Kentucky (11-4, 4-3 SEC) with 15 points, and Rhyne Howard was close behind with 14, though UT’s stifling defense relegated the 2020 SEC Player of the Year into a 3-for-16 shooting day from the field.
Kentucky jumped out to an early 3-1 lead off a KeKe McKinney trey less than a minute in, but Marta Suárez tied it up with a quick jumper off the rebound on the other end, setting off an 11-0 run that put the Lady Vols up 12-3 by the media timeout. Following the break Howard hit a long-range 3-pointer to end the drought for the Wildcats, and Robyn Benton hit a 10-footer on the next possession to cut the UK deficit to four. The four-point gap held until Jordan Walker hit a pair of free throws in the final minute to extend Tennessee’s lead to six and send the game into the second period with the scoreboard reading 18-12.
The Lady Vols came out shooting cold from the floor in the second, failing to convert on their first six possessions while Kentucky tied it up at 18-all by the 5:32 mark. Burrell broke the slump for UT, converting on a trey 15 seconds later to make the score 21-18 at the media break. Following the timeout, Suárez and Burrell both added layups, stretching the lead to seven before Olivia Owens and Patterson combined to pull Kentucky within three with 1:09 left in the half. Burrell would add two more points before the final buzzer, making the halftime score 27-22 in favor of the Big Orange.
Horston found Key alone in the paint for UT’s first bucket of the second half, and Key followed it up with two more baskets over the next two possessions, putting the Lady Vols up by 11 just under two minutes in. Howard hit one of a pair of free throws for Kentucky, but the Lady Vols kept the pressure on, holding UK without a field goal for four and a half minutes while Davis and Key combined for five points to stretch the lead to 38-23 before Patterson converted on a trey to put the score at 38-26 at the media break. Both teams came out of the timeout hot, each scoring on their next two possessions to move the score to 43-31 by the 3:24 mark, but UT held Kentucky scoreless for the rest of the quarter while scoring eight unanswered points to take a 49-31 lead into the final stanza.
The Lady Vols kept the pressure on, opening the fourth with a 9-1 run to lead by 26 points with 5:53 left to play. The teams traded baskets through the 3:39 mark, with Tennessee leading by 25 points after Key’s final bucket of the game. UT’s reserves got some action in the closing minutes, and the Wildcats closed out the game with a 10-4 run to bring the final margin to 17, 70-53.
Up Next: UT will play its third-straight home game on Thursday, hosting Ole Miss for a 7 p.m. contest that will be streamed on SECN+.
Lockdown Defense: Tennessee held Kentucky to season lows of 53 points and 28.6 percent shooting from the field. Coming into today’s game, the Wildcats were averaging 77.7 ppg. on 45.8 percent shooting. It marked the ninth time in 12 games UT has held an opponent to 40 percent shooting or lower and it was the sixth time the Lady Vols have limited a foe to 53 points or fewer.
Key’s Hot Streak: With 19 points against Kentucky, sophomore Tamari Key has now been in double digits for five-straight games, averaging 14.0 ppg., 6.2 rpg., and 2.2 bpg. over than span.
Rennia Cleaning Glass: Senior Rennia Davis pulled down 11 first-half rebounds en route to a career-high 20 boards on the day. That total ties her for fifth all-time among Lady Vols for rebounds in a single game. It marked the most boards by a UT player since Glory Johnson collected 21 vs. DePaul on March 19, 2012, and the most by a Lady Vol at Thompson-Boling Arena since Daedra Charles carded 22 vs. Southwest Missouri State (now Missouri State) on March 16, 1991.
Double-Double Davis: With 15 points and 20 rebounds, Davis logged her 35th career double-double to tie Mary Ostrowski for fifth all-time among Lady Vols. She is now just one shy of catching fourth-place Glory Johnson.
Horston Dishing: Sophomore Jordan Horston tied her season high of seven assists against Kentucky. If the season ended today, her average of 4.15 apg. would rank sixth all-time among Lady Vol sophomores. She currently ranks No. 4 in career assists averaged at 4.48 through 44 games.