Tennessee (6-1 | 0-0 SEC) vs. Arkansas (10-2 | 1-1 SEC)
Thursday, January 7th, 2021 | 5:32pm CT
Knoxville, TN | Thompson-Boling Arena | TV: SEC Network
Knoxville, TN – Tennessee Lady Vols basketball team (6-1, 0-0 SEC) finally opens Southeastern Conference play on Thursday, as No. 13/13 Arkansas (10-2, 1-1 SEC) comes to Thompson-Boling Arena.
The Lady Vols, who are receiving votes in the AP and USA TODAY Coaches Polls, and the Razorbacks will tip at 5:32pm CT in UT’s first game since it defeated Lipscomb, 77-52, in Knoxville on December 28th.
Kellie Harper‘s squad paused team activities on December 29th and had contests vs. Texas A&M and Kentucky postponed last week due to COVID-19 Coronavirus contact tracing within the program.
Tennessee met all SEC Return To Activity and Medical Guidance Task Force requirements and resumed full team activities on January 5th.
Arkansas comes into Thursday night’s match-up on the heels of a 91-88 home victory over Missouri on Sunday. The Razorbacks’ only losses are to (then) No. 12/11 Maryland on November 29th and to (then) No. 13/11 Kentucky on December 31st. Their biggest win was an 83-78 home triumph over (then) No. 4/4 Baylor on December 6th in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge.
The Lady Vols’ only setback came at West Virginia, 79-73 in overtime, in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge. UT’s biggest win was a 66-58 road victory over Big Ten favorite (then) No. 15/15 Indiana.
Tennessee is 5-0 at home this season. Combined with a 2-0 record at T-BA at the end of the 2019-20 campaign, the Lady Vols are looking to claim their eighth straight contest on The Summitt and extend their longest home win streak of the Harper era.
Thursday night’s game will be televised by SEC Network with Courtney Lyle (PxP) and Carolyn Peck (Analyst) on the call.
All of the games included in the ESPN package (ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU) and the SEC Network will be available through WatchESPN, accessible online at WatchESPN.com, on smartphones and tablets via the WatchESPN app, and streamed on televisions through Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Chromecast, Roku, Xbox 360 or Xbox One to fans who receive their video subscription from an affiliated provider.
The contest also can be heard on Lady Vol Network radio stations and by audio stream, with Mickey Dearstone behind the microphone. Now calling the action for his 22nd season, Dearstone is joined by studio host Bobby Rader.
A link to the live audio stream can be found on each game’s Hoops Central page or the Lady Vol schedule on UTSports.com.
For a list of Lady Vol Network affiliates, please click on the Fans tab at the top of UTSports.com, select Vol Network and then click on Vol Network Affiliates in the black bar at the top of the page.
Air time for games on the Lady Vol Radio Network generally occurs 30 minutes prior to tip-off.
Tickets Available at ALLVOLS.COM
Single game tickets are on sale, starting at just $5,00. Go to AllVols.com to purchase.
Tennessee Lady Vols In SEC Openers
Tennessee is 32-6 all-time in its first SEC game of a season, including 17-3 at home and 15-3 on the road.
The Lady Vols have won their last six SEC openers, last losing to LSU, 80-77, on Jan. 2, 2014.
This marks the first non-feline conference-opening foe since UT played at South Carolina in 2013. UT has met LSU, Missouri, Missouri, Kentucky, Kentucky, Auburn and Missouri in its last seven league lid-lifters.
Tennessee is 4-0 in SEC openers vs. Arkansas, including 3-0 in Knoxville and 1-0 in Fayetteville.
In its first SEC home game of the season, Tennessee is 33-5, winning three of its last four such games.
The Lady Vols are 29-9 in their initial SEC road game of a season, winning 10 of the past 11 but falling last season at Kentucky, 80-76.
No, It’s Not Our Latest SEC Start
Given that Tennessee’s first two games (Texas A&M, Kentucky) were lost to postponement because COVID-19 Coronavirus contact tracing within the UT program, one might think this is the latest the Lady Vols have ever started league play. That would be wrong.
Tennessee has started SEC play later than January 7th 10 times and has competed on January 7th on two other occasions.
The last time the Lady Vols played on January 7th or later was in January 7th, 2010, when the Lady Vols opened conference play with a 79-62 home win over South Carolina.
UT beat LSU, 95-61, on the road in the other January 7th date back in 1993.
UT is 11-1 in SEC openers played on January 7th and after.
NCAA Net Rankings and More
Tennessee was ranked No. 28 in the NCAA’s first NET Rankings ever on January 4th. The rating tool replaces the previous RPI formula that was used for helping determine NCAA Tournament invitations and seeding.
The Lady Vols have a road victory over No. 14 Indiana already and will face top-30 NET foes in No. 2 UConn, No. 5 South Carolina, No. 8 Kentucky, No. 15 Arkansas, No. 16 Georgia, No. 17 Texas A&M, No. 19 Alabama, No. 20 Ole Miss and No. 26 Mississippi State.
In addition to the NET Rankings, the Lady Vols were drawing attention at No. 24 in this week’s Women’sHoopsWorld poll. UT has yet to move into the top 25 in the AP and USA TODAY polls.
Quick Glance at Tennessee Lady Vols
UT is led in scoring by junior guard/forward Rae Burrell, who is putting up 16.6 ppg. and shooting 47.7 percent from the field, 44.8 percent on threes and 82.6 percent from the free-throw line. She averaged 10.5 ppg. and shot 41, 33 and 60 percent, respectively, a year ago in those categories.
Senior Rennia Davis, who is on all of the preseason awards watch lists (Wade, Wooden, Naismith, Cheryl Miller) and a projected All-SEC First Team pick by the coaches and players, is second in scoring (12.3 ppg.) and is first on the team in boards at 8.1 rpg.
Davis, who averaged 18.0 ppg. and 8.2 rpg. as a junior last season, had tough luck shooting and found herself in foul trouble in two of UT’s first four contests. A breakout game of 19 points and 15 rebounds vs. Indiana on December 17th, however, demonstrated that Davis has gotten her mojo back.
Recapping Tennessee’s Last Game
Senior Rennia Davis turned in a double-double with 19 points and 11 rebounds to lead Tennessee to a 77-52 win over Lipscomb in Thompson-Boling Arena on January 28th.
Junior Rae Burrell finished with 10 points to join Davis in double figures for Tennessee (6-1), and senior Kasiyahna Kushkituah and sophomore Tamari Key each added nine. Every active player for the Lady Vols finished with at least two points.
Lipscomb (3-3) was led by senior Taylor Clark who had 14 points and four rebounds.
Tennessee travels to Baton Rouge, LA, for a Sunday matinee at LSU. Tip time is 1:00pm CT (2:00pm ET) for a contest that will be streamed on SECN+.
That trip marks the first of three consecutive weekend road tilts for the Lady Vols.
Arkansas, meanwhile, is back home on Sunday and hosting Texas A&M in a 3:00pm CT contest at Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville.
Tennessee-Arkansas Series Notes
Tennessee holds a 30-5 all-time record vs. Arkansas, dating back to February 29th, 1992, when UT prevailed, 105-59, in the initial meeting.
The Lady Vols are 14-2 in Knoxville, 14-3 in Fayetteville and 2-0 at neutral sites.
Tennessee is 1-1 in overtime and 2-0 in the postseason vs. UA, meeting for the first time in SEC Tournament play in 2016. UT prevailed, 68-51, in the second round in Jacksonville, Fla., on March 3 of that year.
Rennia Davis first established her career high of 33 points and hit one of her 14 all-time shots with the clock winding down, draining a three at the close of the third period in Fayetteville on February 8th, 2018.
No. 1/1 Tennessee and unranked Arkansas met in an NCAA Final Four semifinal game in Kansas City, MO, on March 27th, 1998, and the Lady Vols cruised past the Razorbacks, 86-58, en route to their perfect 39-0 season.
Then the starting point guard for UT, Kellie (Jolly) Harper tallied 11 points, five assists and three rebounds during 30 minutes of duty in that contest.
Harper finished her career with a 4-1 record vs. the Razorbacks as a player.
As a head coach, Harper is 2-3 all-time vs. Arkansas. She won her last two meetings vs. the Razorbacks while at Missouri State, including 69-54 in Fayetteville on December 2nd, 2015, and 64-62 in Springfield on December 11th, 2016.
This is the second meeting between Harper and Mike Neighbors as head coaches, with Neighbors getting the “W” a year ago.
UT assistant coach Jennifer Sullivan and freshman Destiny Salary hail from the Natural State, both calling the city of Jonesboro in northeastern Arkansas home and graduating from Jonesboro High School.
During her coaching career, Sullivan returned to her hometown from 2009-12 and coached at Arkansas State University.
About the Arkansas Razorbacks
The Razorbacks are off to a 10-2 start this season and stand 1-1 in league play.
Arkansas is paced by four players averaging in double figures, including Chelsea Dungee (19.5 ppg.), Destiny Slocum (15.4 ppg.), Makayla Daniels (13.7 ppg.) and Amber Ramirez (12.3 ppg.).
UA averages 9.8 made three-pointers per game, with Ramirez (31), Dungee (23) and Slocum (21) hitting the most through 12 contests.
Mike Neighbors is in his fourth season leading the Razorbacks. The 1993 UA graduate is 69-43 in Fayetteville and is 167-84 in his eighth year as a head coach. He spent four years at Washington prior to returning to his alma mater.
Recapping Arkansas’ Last Game
Despite being outscored in the second half 54-46, including 29-25 in the final stanza, Arkansas held on at home to defeat Missouri, 91-88, on Sunday.
Chelsea Dungee led four Razorbacks in double figures with 25 points. She hit four three-pointers.
UA won despite allowing Mizzou to outshoot it, 52.5 to 39.4 percent, from the field.
MU shot 68.8 percent (9-14) from the floor in the third quarter and 68.8 (11-16) in the fourth period.
Last Time Tennessee Played Arkansas
Rae Burrell poured in 15 points in the fourth quarter to pull UT within four in the final minutes, but it wasn’t enough to overcome No. 22/25 Arkansas on road in an 83-75 setback on February 20th, 2020, at Bud Walton Arena.
Burrell led Tennessee (17-9, 7-6 SEC) in scoring and rebounding with 21 points and nine boards, narrowly missing a double-double. Rennia Davis was also in double digits, finishing with 18 points and eight rebounds.
Amber Ramirez was Arkansas’ (21-5, 9-4 SEC) high scorer, posting 29 points, while Alexis Tolefree was close behind with 22.
Last Time in Knoxville
Despite 24 points from Evina Westbrook, the No. 17 Tennessee Lady Vols fell to Arkansas, 80-79, at Thompson-Boling Arena on January 21st, 2019.
Westbrook’s game-winning 3-point attempt came up just short.
Malica Monk led Arkansas with 23 points, while Chelsea Dungee (19 points) and Alexis Tolefree (16 points) also chipped in double-digit point totals.