GREENVILLE, S.C. (AP)Rickea Jackson set a single-game Southeastern Conference tournament record with a season-high 34 points as Tennessee held off Kentucky 80-71 in a quarterfinal round game Friday night.
Tennessee (22-10) advances to face No. 4 LSU in the semifinals.
Ajae Petty hit two free throws with 21 seconds left in the third quarter to pull Kentucky (12-19) within three, 51-48, but Jackson hit a jumper to start a run of 14 straight points for the Volunteers to push the lead to 65-55. Jackson scored 16 of Tennessee’s 27 fourth-quarter points.
Kentucky had lost its final seven games of the regular season and was the 14th seed, but the Wildcats knocked off 11th-seed Florida and sixth-seeded Alabama to become the lowest-seeded team to ever reach the tournament’s quarterfinal round. But against Tennessee, Kentucky struggled with attrition. Adebola Adeyeye fouled out and Petty was disqualified in the fourth quarter after pulling Karoline Striplin’s pony tail. Maddie Sherr also fouled out in the final minute.
Jackson hit 10 of 15 shots from the field and was a perfect 14-for-14 from the line while scoring 20 or more points in her seventh straight game. Jordan Horston scored 21 points and Tess Darby hit 4 of 5 from 3-point range and added 12 points.
Kentucky’s leading scorer, Robyn Benton, was in foul trouble early against Alabama Thursday and did not score. She scored 20 points to lead the Wildcats against Tennessee. Scherr scored 13 and Jada Walker had 12. Petty scored 11 points before being ejected.