Kentucky Falls Just Short Against No. 7/11 Tennessee
Jan. 8, 2009
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -Shekinna Stricklen scored 18 points, including two late free throws, as No. 7 Tennessee hung on to beat Kentucky 69-64 on Thursday night.
Glory Johnson added 14 points for Tennessee (12-2, 1-0 Southeastern Conference), Alicia Manning scored a career-high 13 points and Alex Fuller had 10.
The Lady Vols had to come from behind in the second half for a second straight game after using the largest comeback in team history to beat Rutgers on Saturday.
Down 35-27 at halftime, the Wildcats - who have only beaten the Lady Vols once in the past two decades - opened the second half with a 9-2 run to take a 40-39 advantage with 16:02 left.
The teams traded the lead for the next 13 minutes. The Lady Vols scored 10 straight points, with a 3-pointer by Manning giving them a 61-58 lead with 2:47 left.
Kentucky all but shut down Angie Bjorklund, who entered the game leading Tennessee with 13.9 points per game. The sharpshooter was limited to seven points, including one 3-pointer, leaving Manning and Stricklen available around the perimeter.
Amber Smith stole the ball from Stricklen and drove for a layup to pull to 64-60 with 1:27 left. Smith later fouled Stricklen with 51.3 seconds left, and the freshman calmly hit both shots to give Tennessee a 66-60 lead.
Smith and Victoria Dunlap hit two more shots in the last minute, but the Wildcats (10-6, 0-1) would only get one more shot as the Lady Vols hit three more free throws.
"For us it was not a lack of effort, it was a lack of execution," Kentucky coach Matthew Mitchell said. "In this league, you don't get a lot of medals for trying."
Kentucky, normally a 27.2 percent 3-point shooting team, made 57.1 percent of their shots from behind the arc against Tennessee. However, the Lady Vols outrebounded the Wildcats 43-30 and scored 17 second-chance points compared to Kentucky's 9.
The scrappy Wildcat team hung close with Tennessee for part of the first half, forcing eight turnovers.
A fastbreak layup by Alyssia Brewer set up by a long pass from Stricklen capped an 8-0 run to give Tennessee a 28-20 lead with 3:46 left in the first half.
"There are a lot of positives that we can just go back and look back on," Smith said. "It wasn't a lot about what they were doing. We just missed a lot of easy shots. We had the opportunities, we just didn't get them in the end. I think we are going to get better after this."
Kentucky returns to action on Sunday when it plays host to Arkansas. Tip-off in Memorial Coliseum is slated for 2 p.m. EST and the game will be carried live on the Big Blue Sports Network (radio and television).