By Associated Press - Sunday, January 1, 2017

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Mercedes Russell matched her season high with 22 points, Diamond DeShields added 21 after missing two games, and Tennessee defeated No. 17 Kentucky 72-65 in a SEC opener Sunday.

DeShields was 10-of-16 shooting and DeShields, back from a thumb injury, 8 of 16 to give the Lady Vols (9-4) their fifth straight win.

DeShields scored the Vols’ first seven points of the fourth quarter and Jamie Nared, who finished with 18, added a 3-pointer for a 62-50 lead, Tennessee’s largest.

Russell added two free throws and a layup but Kentucky cut it to 68-64 with 1:27 left before Nared, a 91 percent free-throw shooter, made 4 of 4 at the line in the final 34 seconds.

Taylor Murray led Kentucky (9-5) with a career-high 23 points. Maci Morris added 15 points and Evelyn Akhator 11 points and 10 rebounds for her eighth double-double this season. Scoring leader Makayla Epps was held to eight on 3-of-13 shooting.

The Wildcats lost to No. 15 Duke by 15 points on Thursday.

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