Howard made several key baskets and hit 4 of 6 free throws in the final minute to help the Wildcats hold off one last surge from the Lady Vols.
Howard’s last 3-pointer put Kentucky (12-2, 1-1 Southeastern Conference) on top 72-60 with 3:42 to play. Her layup at 1:54 stopped an 8-0 Tennessee run and after Sabrina Haines made a pair of free throws for the Wildcats, Howard took over at the foul line.
Tennessee (11-2, 1-1) outsored Kentucky 30-29 in the fourth quarter, going 11-for-20 from the field and 8-for-11 from the line. The Wildcats were 10-for-15 and 7-for-9.
Howard hit 7 of 13 attempts behind the arc, matching her career best for makes, and 5 of 14 inside. She went 6-for-9 from the foul line with nine rebounds, five assists, three blocks and two steals. Haines added 11 points.
Rennia Davis led Tennessee with 27 points before fouling out in the final minute. Rae Burrell added 16 points — 10 in the fourth quarter — and Jordan Horston 13.
Tennessee outrebounded Kentucky 41-36.
Howard had three 3s in the first quarter when the Wildcats went up 21-14. Davis had nine points in the second quarter and a 19-4 run helped the Lady Vols take a 35-33 at the half.
Kentucky scored the first 11 points of the third quarter and Howard had back-to-back 3s to make that a 17-2 run but Tennessee scored the last seven to trail 51-46 heading into the fourth quarter.