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No. 10 Kentucky fails to capitalize on No. 6 Tennessee's injuries in 72-58 loss to Lady Vols

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KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — Kentucky couldn't capitalize against Tennessee's short-handed lineup.

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. The Lady Vols held Kentucky to its lowest point total of the season.

"We just weren't tough enough," Kentucky coach Matthew Mitchell said. "It's a tough game out there. I thought they were a little bit tougher than us."

The Lady Vols (22-3, 12-0 SEC) won their 19th straight SEC contest and 18th straight home game while playing much of the game without two starters.

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 guard 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 coach Holly Warlick had no immediate update on Harrison's condition but said Reynolds "got a little dizzy" early in the game. Harrison has been wearing a brace on her right knee since spraining it in Tennessee's season opener, an injury that caused her to miss five games.

Even before the game, Warlick reminded her players it would take plenty of toughness to win the latest edition of a series that has grown into one of the SEC's most competitive rivalries.

"If you're going to survive, you've got to fight and you've got to get down and get your hands muddy," Warlick said. "You've got to get them dirty. That's what we talked about. I'm really proud of our team and how they competed, how they fought."

In its last trip to Knoxville, Kentucky (19-6, 8-4) had beaten 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. Tennessee was coming off a lopsided victory over Ole Miss while Kentucky had survived a double-overtime marathon with Mississippi State, but the Wildcats said that didn't play a factor in Sunday's result.

"I don't think it was just an aftermath of Thursday night," said Makayla Epps, who led Kentucky with 13 points. "Like Coach said, I just think we kind of got out-toughed down the stretch, and that is stuff that can be corrected."

PHOTO: Tennessee's Isabelle Harrison, bottom middle, is attended to by orthopedic surgeon Dr. Greg Mathien, left, during an NCAA college basketball game against Kentucky, Sunday, Feb. 15, 2015, in Knoxville, Tenn. Tennessee won 72-58. (AP Photo/Patrick Murphy-Racey)
Tennessee's Isabelle Harrison, bottom middle, is attended to by orthopedic surgeon Dr. Greg Mathien, left, during an NCAA college basketball game against Kentucky, Sunday, Feb. 15, 2015, in Knoxville, Tenn. Tennessee won 72-58. (AP Photo/Patrick Murphy-Racey)

The game was tied 31-all at halftime and 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. 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.

TIP-INS:

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 junior forward Bashaara Graves reached that mark earlier.

PINK VS. PINK:

Sunday's matchup marked Tennessee's annual "Live Pink, Bleed Orange" game to support the fight against breast cancer. Each school wore pink uniforms, with Kentucky sporting the darker shade.

Liza Graves, a breast cancer survivor who played for Tennessee from 1975-78, received a game ball. Officials from Champions for a Cause, a foundation started by Tennessee coach Holly Warlick and LSU coach Nikki Caldwell, presented a $10,000 check to the University of Tennessee Medical Center's Breast Health Outreach Program.

QUOTABLE:

"We really send out our prayers and best wishes to Isabelle," Mitchell said. "We know what that feels like, and it doesn't feel good when one of your players goes down. Obviously it was bad enough that she didn't return to the game, so we're really thinking about her and will be praying for her." Kentucky guard Janee Thompson dislocated her ankle and broke her fibula on Jan. 11, knocking her out for the rest of the season.

NEXT UP:

Kentucky hosts No. 15 Texas A&M on Thursday.

Tennessee hosts Alabama on Thursday.

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Photo Gallery:
PHOTO: Tennessees' Andraya Carter (14) and Ariel Massengale (5) force a loose ball against Kentucky's Alexis Jennings in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Sunday, Feb. 15, 2015, in Knoxville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Patrick Murphy-Racey)
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