Games against Kentucky are never easy. Tennessee toughed out a 31-24 halftime lead, stretched the lead to 13, took Kentucky's response in stride, and kept the the game in the close-but-tense range until they put Kentucky away with a 75-64 victory.
Cierra Burdick was an absolute beast this game, controlling the offensive flow for Tennessee in the first half (5-7, 12 points, 2-2 on threes, 5 boards) as only Jordan Reynolds and Andraya Carter scored more than two points before halftime. Heck, the first half was ugly period as both the Wildcats and Lady Vols struggled to really get going. Burdick closed with 20 points, 11 boards,
The second half felt closer than it probably was; Kentucky cut the margin to two scores a few times, but the vast majority of the second half was played with Tennessee sitting on at least a two point lead.
In the personal development camp, Ariel Massengale had a quiet game, chipping in one big three, 9 points, and 4 assists. Those four assists put her over the 500 assist mark for her career, making her only the third Tennessee player in history with 1,000 points and 500 assists in her career.
Tennessee has now beaten Kentucky literally anytime and anywhere this season, notching wins in Lexington, Knoxville, and Little Rock. If the regionals and seeds work out, it may even happen again, provided both teams win enough to get there.
In the meantime, Kentucky gets to rest and get healthy--Makalya Epps chief among the group, who struggled today on 1.5 legs--and Tennessee will play South Carolina at 3:30 tomorrow for the SEC championship.
We'll have more on that tomorrow. Everybody in the ice bath in the meantime.