Jennifer O’Neill and turnovers were too much for Tennessee on Sunday.
The combination erased a one-point UT lead and sent Kentucky to a 75-71 SEC women’s basketball victory before a crowd of 15,664 at Thompson-Boling Arena.
The victory was the first for No. 18 Kentucky (19-6, 7-5 SEC) at the arena and its first in Knoxville since Jan. 23, 1985.
O’Neill, who scored a game-high 24 points, gave the Wildcats the lead for good by converting a turnover by Tennessee’s Meighan Simmons into a layup and a 70-69 advantage.
UT had committed three in a row at that point and finished with 22 turnovers for the game. Its last possession and a final shot at a tying basket ended with Isabelle Harrison fumbling away the ball.
Harrison and Bashaara Graves each scored 20 points to lead No. 8 Tennessee (20-5, 9-3) Harrison added 16 rebounds.
Foul trouble was the story of the first half.
Initially it was Kentucky’s plight. The Wildcats were whistled for six fouls before the first media timeout. Starting forward Samarie Walker picked up two fouls on consecutive plays.
But the Wildcats got by on their depth, using 10 players.
Tennessee ultimately had the bigger problems. The Lady Vols starting backcourt of Andraya Carter and Simmons both picked up two fouls and played just 17 combined minutes before halftime.
The Lady Vols committed 13 turnovers and trailed 38-34 at the break.