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#20 Tennessee Lady Vols Basketball to take on Ole Miss at Thompson-Boling Arena, Thursday

 

#20/#22 Tennessee (10-3 | 4-1 SEC) vs. Ole Miss (7-5 | 1-5 SEC)

Thursday, January 28th, 2021 | 6:02pm CT
Knoxville, TN | Thompson-Boling Arena

UT Lady VolsKnoxville, TN – No. 20/22 Tennessee women’s basketball team (10-3, 4-1 SEC) continues its four-game homestand with a Thursday, January 28th, 2021 conference match-up vs. Ole Miss (7-5/1-5 SEC) at Thompson-Boling Arena.

UT, which is third in the league and stands as one of only three SEC teams with one loss or fewer in league play (along with South Carolina and Texas A&M), tips it off on The Summitt against the Rebels at 6:02pm CT.

The Tennessee Lady Vols come into the match-up after a strong showing last week vs. No. 3/5 UConn (L, 67-61) on Thursday night and a dominant victory over No. 12/12 Kentucky, 70-53, on Sunday.

Tennessee Women's Basketball hosts Ole Miss Thursday at Thompson-Boling Arena. (UT Athletics)

Tennessee Women’s Basketball hosts Ole Miss Thursday at Thompson-Boling Arena. (UT Athletics)

Tennessee pushed its lead to as many as 26 points in the fourth quarter vs. the Wildcats before pulling its starters in a game where UT out-rebounded UK, 56-25, and held the visitors to 28.6 percent shooting. 

In the UConn game, there were 17 lead changes and 12 ties in a battle the Huskies led by two with only 26 seconds remaining. A three-pointer just prior to the shot clock expiring at that point was the difference-maker for UConn.

Ole Miss is much improved this season, adding transfers Shakira Austin (Maryland) and Donnetta Johnson (Georgia) and a heralded signing class led by Madison Scott. Incidentally, that trio stands as the Rebels’ top three scorers with all three putting up double-digit averages. 

The Rebels are coming off a 10-point home loss to Florida (78-68) on Sunday and have lost five of six SEC games after opening the season 6-0. Proof of their improvement, however, comes in a four-point loss to a ranked Mississippi State team and an overtime setback to LSU.

Thursday’s game will be streamed live via SECN+ with Michael Wottreng (PxP) and Steve Hamer (analyst) on the call.

Institutions also can produce for SEC Network+ (SECN+) any conference and non-conference games that are not otherwise televised. Those are available on the ESPN app and SECSports.com. 

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. 

About The Tennessee Lady Vols

Tennessee has posted three victories over ranked teams (No. 13/13 Arkansas, No. 15/15 Indiana, No. 12/12 Kentucky), marking the most by the program in a season since 2017-18 when it had seven.

The Lady Vols have done so starting a freshman (Marta Suárez), two sophomores (Jordan Horston, Tamari Key), a junior (Rae Burrell), and senior (Rennia Davis). They have played together as a quintet for nine total games, with Key and Horston being inserted into the starting lineup for the contest at Indiana. 

UT is led in scoring in all games by junior Rae Burrell (16.5 ppg.) and senior Rennia Davis (14.0 ppg.), with sophomore Tamari Key contributing 8.6 and classmate Jordan Horston chipping in 8.4. 

In SEC play, three Tennessee players are scoring in double figures, including Davis (17.0 ppg.), Burrell (16.2) and Key (12.4). Horston is at 9.8 ppg.

 


 

Davis leads the team with a 9.2 rebound average for the season, but she has raised that to 10.8 rpg. in league play to average a double-double vs. SEC foes.

Senior Rennia Davis, who is on all of the preseason awards watch lists (Wade, Wooden, Naismith, Cheryl Miller), the Wooden Midseason List and a projected All-SEC First Team pick by the coaches and players, is averaging 17.8 ppg. and 13.8 ppg. vs. ranked teams in four games this season.

Davis has climbed to 17th on UT’s all-time scoring list with 1,582 points, surpassing Nikki McCray (18th, 1,572) and Debbie Groover (17th, 1,580). She is 15 back of Mercedes Russell (16th, 1,597) and 39 behind Dana Johnson (15th, 1,621).

On the all-time rebounding list, Davis stands in 17th place with 855. She is three behind Daedra Charles (16th, 858) and 29 behind Dana Johnson (15th, 884).

Sophomore Tamari Key has scored in double figures the past five contests (12/14/15/10/19). That career-best 19-point effort vs. Kentucky pushed her scoring average over the last five games to 14.0 ppg. along with 6.2 rpg. Both marks rank second on the team during that span. She also is hitting 70.5 percent from the field.

Tennessee has had four players finish a game scoring in double figures the past three contests, marking the first streak of that this season. They also accomplished that feat vs. Arkansas and in the season opener vs. Western Kentucky.

Sophomore Jordan Horston has dished out seven steals in two of her past three games. She leads Tennessee in all games (4.2 apg.) and is tied for fourth among league performers in SEC games with a 4.8 per game average.

Freshman guard/forward Marta Suárez, joining Burrell and Davis as UT’s only starters in every game this season, is second on the Lady Vols in rebound average (5.6) and is fifth in scoring at 6.4 ppg. after averaging 8.0 ppg. and 5.0 rpg. last week.

Reserve senior center Kasiyahna Kushkituah (6.2 ppg., 4.6 rpg.) and redshirt junior guard Jordan Walker (5.4 ppg., 3.3 rpg., 2.5 apg.) continue to be consistent contributors off the bench. Freshman Destiny Salary (2.7 ppg., 3.3 rpg., 1.3 apg.) also is supplying quality minutes at the guard position.

Tennessee drew an NCAA women’s basketball season-high in attendance when 3,553 were on hand for the UConn game on Jan. 21. That total surpassed the max crowd that South Carolina is hosting this season due to COVID-19 safety measures.

 


Recapping Tennessee’s Last Game

 The No. 25 Lady Vols rolled to a commanding victory over No. 12 Kentucky on Sunday, winning 70-53 in Thompson-Boling Arena.

The win was UT’s third victory over a top-15 team this season, its highest number of wins over ranked opponents since the 2017-18 season. 

Tennessee (10-3, 4-1 SEC) was led in scoring by sophomore Tamari Key, who posted a career-high 19 points on 8-of-10 shooting. Senior Rennia Davis turned in a double-double with 15 points and a career-high 20 rebounds. Junior Rae Burrell and senior Kasiyahna Kushkituah were also in double digits with 13 and 11, respectively. 

Chasity Patterson was the high scorer for Kentucky (11-4, 4-3 SEC) with 15 points, and Rhyne Howard was close behind with 14, though UT’s stifling defense relegated the 2020 SEC Player of the Year to a 3-for-16 shooting day from the field.

Rankings Talk

Tennessee has climbed to a season-best NCAA NET Ranking of 13th through games of January 25th.

That rating is second highest in the SEC (South Carolina is No. 3).

Tennessee has climbed 15 spots since January 4th, when the first-ever ranking was released. The rating tool replaces the previous RPI formula that was used for helping determine NCAA Tournament invitations and seeding.

The Tennessee Lady Vols have wins over NET No. 8 Indiana, No. 20 Kentucky, No. 24 Arkansas, and No. 28 Alabama.

UT has three close losses, including to No. 1 UConn, No. 14 Georgia, and No. 22 West Virginia. 

UT will face top-60 NET foes in No. 3 South Carolina, No. 14 Georgia (in Athens), No. 16 Texas A&M (possibly twice), No. 20 Kentucky (in Lexington), No. 35 Mississippi State (in Starkville), No. 47 Missouri (in Columbia) and No. 58 Ole Miss in the coming weeks.

UT has ascended to season highs of No. 20 in the AP poll and No. 22 in the USA TODAY Coaches poll.

Interestingly enough, the Lady Vols still find themselves ranked below No. 15/14 Kentucky (11-4), No. 16/15 Indiana (9-3), and No. 19/18 Arkansas (11-5), teams Tennessee defeated, including Indiana on the road by eight and Kentucky and Arkansas by margins of 17 and 15.

The Lady Vols didn’t debut in either top 25 until the eighth polls (Jan. 11/12) had them at No. 23/24. 

Tennessee was No. 25/RV last week (January 18th-19th).

The Tennessee Lady Vols also have risen to their highest position in Charlie Creme’s Bracketology, holding down a projected No. 4 seed in the 2021 NCAA Tournament as of Jan. 26.

UT is slotted in Region 4, with a first-round match-up vs. No. 13 UT Martin and a potential second-round encounter with No. 5 Gonzaga or No. 12 Bucknell. 

NC State is the No. 1 seed in that region, with Stanford and Indiana (a team UT defeated) filling the two and three seeds.

About the Ole Miss Rebels

The Rebels feature three players averaging double figures in scoring, including junior Shakira Austin (17.3), redshirt sophomore Donnetta Johnson (12.7), and freshman Madison Scott (11.3.).

Austin is a transfer from Maryland and is joined by former Terps assistant Shay Robinson in making the move to the Magnolia State for 2020-21. 

Johnson is a transfer from Georgia, and Scott was the No. 13-ranked recruit in the U.S. by ESPN.

Ole Miss is led by Yolett McPhee-McCuin, who is in her third year in Oxford (23-50) and the eighth season overall as a head coach (117-113). 

Ole Miss started out 6-0 before losing five of its last six contests in SEC play to LSU, Mississippi State, Missouri, Georgia, and Florida. The loss to #14 MSU was by four points. UM beat Auburn.

Recapping The Rebels’ Last Game

Ole Miss entered the break in good position after a blistering second quarter, but a slow start in the back half proved to be the difference as Florida pulled ahead for a 78-68 win over the Rebels at The Pavilion on Sunday.

UM received four double-digit performances, led by senior Valerie Nesbitt with a team-high 18 points on 8-of-12 shooting. Nesbitt, in her third start of the year at point guard, also led with a career-high seven assists. 

Other Rebels in double-digits included Madison Scott (14), Snudda Collins (11), and Shakira Austin (10).

Florida’s Kiara Smith (25 points) and Lavender Briggs (16 points) combined for 41 points on the day, 28 of which came in the second half and 20 of which came in a 25-12 third quarter for the Gators.

Tennessee-Ole Miss Notes

UT enters the 57th meeting in the series with a 48-8 edge, including a 22-2 record in games played in Knoxville, a 21-4 mark in Oxford, and a 5-2 slate at neutral sites.

Tennessee has won 32 of the last 33 meetings with Ole Miss, with the only setback in that sequence coming in Oxford, 67-62, on January 12th, 2017.

The Lady Vols have won 19 straight over the Rebels in Knoxville, with the last Ole Miss victory (69-65) coming on January 31st, 1987, in Stokely Athletics Center. 

The Big Orange, which have allowed Ole Miss to surpass 70 points only once since 1997, will face a Rebels squad that comes in averaging 75.1 ppg.

 


 

On January 9th, 2020, Tennessee held Ole Miss to 28 points, which tied for the third-fewest UT has allowed in a game and the fewest by an SEC foe.

The Rebels scored only 14 points in the second half of that game, which was the sixth-fewest ever tallied in the final 20 minutes by a UT opponent. Ole Miss’ two fourth-quarter points tied for second-fewest ever in a quarter by a Big Orange foe.

Tennessee junior Rennia Davis has played very well against Ole Miss in four contests, averaging 16.8 points and 8.0 rebounds vs. the Rebels.

Tamari Key averaged 13.0 ppg. and 8.5 rpg. in two games vs. the Rebels as a freshman in 2019-20.

UT Head Coach Kellie Harper is 3-0 vs. Ole Miss as a head coach. Harper took Missouri State to Oxford on November 19th, 2015, and came away with a 91-78 victory over the (then) Matt Insell-coached Rebels. Her first UT unit claimed an 84-28 triumph in Oxford on January 9th, 2020, and a 77-66 win in Knoxville on Feb. 27, 2020.

Harper was 6-1 vs. Ole Miss during her playing days at Tennessee from 1995-99.

Last time Tennessee Met Old Miss

The Lady Vols prevailed over an upset-minded Ole Miss team on February 27th, 2020, taking a 77-66 win on Senior Night at Thompson-Boling Arena.

Junior Rennia Davis was Tennessee’s (19-9, 9-6 SEC) high scorer, recording her 28th career double-double with 19 points and 11 rebounds.  Freshman Tamari Key and sophomore Rae Burrell were also in double figures, with Key scoring a career-high of 17 points and Burrell finishing with 14 in the final regular-season home game of the 2019-20 campaign.

Ole Miss (7-21, 0-15 SEC) was led by Deja Cage and Mimi Reid, who posted 22 and 21 points, respectively.

 


Next Up For Tennessee Women’s Basketball

The Tennessee Lady Vols basketball team closes out its four-game homestand on Sunday with a 1:00pm CT matinee vs. Florida. The game will be televised by ESPNU.


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