No. 9 Tennessee 84, Kentucky 61
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) _ When Tennessee’s Lady Vols needed a boost, Abby Conklin gave it to them.
``Abby came off the bench and gave us a big lift,″ Tennessee’s Chamique Holdsclaw said, after the ninth-ranked Vols beat Kentucky 84-61 Sunday in a Southeastern Conference game.
Trailing 12-7 with 13 minutes left in the first half, Tennessee (11-6, 1-2) sent in Conklin. The Lady Vols then went on a 21-4 run, with Conklin scoring 10 of her 16 points during that span.
``During that stretch, we turned up our defensive intensity, pushed the tempo and was able to get some easy layups,″ Holdsclaw said.
Holdsclaw finished with 17 points.
Kentucky (5-10, 0-4) was led by Tiffany Wait’s 21 points.
Tennessee closed out the half with a 12-4 run, which was keyed by six of Tiffani Johnson’s 19 points, and held a 40-22 lead at the break. Johnson also had a game-high 10 rebounds.
Kentucky trailed 53-37 with 12 minutes left, when Conklin made a four-point play. She was fouled by Kim Denkins on a 3-point shot and hit the free throw, making it 57-37. Kentucky never got closer than 18 after that.
Later, Johnson scored eight straight points, giving the Lady Vols their biggest lead at 76-51 with 4 1/2 minutes left.
The Lady Vols were returning home after a 3-3 road trip. They entered the game with six losses, all against ranked teams, which were the most for a Tennessee team at this point in the season since the 1984-85 season.
``People asked me if it was good to play Tennessee when they are down, but Tennessee is never down,″ Kentucky coach Bernadette Mattox said. ``They returned here to an environment they are comfortable in, and they are a good team at home.
``During that stretch in the first half, we just did not execute offensively and could never get anything going.″
The game marked the return of Tennessee’s Kellie Jolly, who had been sidelined with a knee injury. She had six points, six assists and no turnovers in 17 minutes.
``Kellie gives our team energy and confidence,″ Tennessee coach Pat Summitt said.
This was the 16th consecutive win for the Lady Vols over Kentucky dating back to the 1985-86 season.