#14/#16 Tennessee vs. #13/#13 Arkansas or Ole Miss
Friday, March 5th, 2021 | 7:15pm CT
Greenville, SC | Bon Secours Wellness Arena | TV: SEC Network
Knoxville, TN – No. 14/16 Tennessee women’s basketball (15-6, 9-4 SEC), which earned the No. 3 seed by virtue of its third-place regular-season finish, will open play on Friday night at the SEC Tournament in Greenville, SC.
The Lady Vols will face the winner of Thursday’s game between sixth-seeded #13/13 Arkansas (19-7, 9-6 SEC) and No. 11 seed Ole Miss (10-10, 4-10 SEC) at approximately 7:15pm CT on Friday at Bon Secours Wellness Arena.
In head-to-head match-ups this season, UT defeated (then) No. 13/13 Arkansas, 88-73, on January 7th in Knoxville and erased a 13-point deficit to beat Ole Miss in Knoxville, 68-67, on January 28th.
The UT Lady Vols’ No. 3 seed is their highest since taking a No. 2 position into the 2015 SEC Tourney in North Little Rock, AR, and advancing to the championship game.
While it may have been forgotten, UT also tied for third in the regular-season conference standings a year ago in Kellie Harper‘s first season, but it drew the No. 6 seed for the tourney by virtue of the league’s tiebreaker system.
Tennessee was picked to finish sixth this season by the league’s coaches and media and was selected seventh by the coaches and sixth by the media last season, overachieving in Harper’s first two years.
SEC Network will televise Friday’s game, 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.
Institutions 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.
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.
Tennessee In The SEC Tournament
Tennessee is seeking to capture its league-leading 18th SEC Tournament championship trophy. UT was victorious in 1980, 1985, 1988, 1989, 1992, 1994, 1996, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2014.
The Lady Vols were runners-up on six occasions, including 1982, 1990, 1991, 1995, 2003, and 2015.
UT last advanced to the title game in 2014 and 2015, winning in 2014 as a #2 seed, 71-70, over #4 Kentucky, and falling as a #2 seed to #1 South Carolina, 62-46, in 2015.
Tennessee enters Friday night’s game with an 80-24 (.796) all-time record in the 42nd year of the SEC Tournament.
The Lady Vols are 36-5 all-time in their opening game of the SEC Tournament and are 26-10 in their second contest of the tourney.
The Big Orange women are 25-8 in SEC Tournament play since 2007-08.
Tennessee has had 15 SEC Tournament MVPs through the years, with a Lady Vol winning four of the last nine awards.
Isabelle Harrison (2014), Glory Johnson (2012), Shekinna Stricklen (2011), and Alyssia Brewer (2010) were the past four MVPs from Tennessee.
The UT Lady Vols won the very first SEC Tournament title in 1980, defeating Ole Miss, 85-71, at Stokely Athletics Center in Knoxville.
SEC Tournament Experience
This is the second SEC Tournament for Kellie Harper and her coaching staff while at Tennessee. UT was 1-1 in 2019-20.
Kellie Harper had an 11-1 record at the SEC Tournament during her time as a student-athlete at UT with postseason tournament titles in 1996, 1998, and 1999. The only loss was in the 1997 semifinals.
Assistant Lacey Goldwire worked on Mike Neighbors’ staff at Arkansas two seasons ago during the Razorbacks’ drive to a runner-up finish.
Rennia Davis has averaged 14.2 ppg. in six career SEC Tournament games, tallying 16 and five vs. Auburn and South Carolina in 2018, 19 and 16 vs. LSU and Mississippi State in 2019, and 15 and 14 vs. Missouri and Kentucky in 2020.
Jordan Horston is averaging 15.0 ppg. in SEC Tourney play after scoring six and 24 vs. Missouri and Kentucky last season.
Back In Greenville
This marks the fifth time Greenville has played host to the SEC Tournament.
UT stands at 5-3 in games played in the city after beating Mizzou and falling to Kentucky a year ago.
Kellie Harper is 1-1 as a head coach in SEC Tourney games played at Bon Secours Wellness Arena.
Shyra Ely was named the SEC Tournament MVP that year, while Shanna Zolman and Brittany Jackson joined her on the all-tournament team.
UT beat Auburn in the second round (64-54) and Vanderbilt in the semifinals (76-73) that year.
Tennessee In SEC Play
UT is 414-88 (.825) in SEC regular-season games through the Auburn match-up, winning 18 regular-season championships and capturing 17 SEC tourney titles.
Tennessee Head Coach Kellie Harper is 19-10 in SEC games in her second year leading the team and has a 1-1 record in SEC Tourney play.
The Lady Vols (projected sixth in preseason polls) have beaten three teams ranked above them in the 2020-21 SEC Coaches and Media Polls, including No. 1/1 selection South Carolina, No. 2/3 pick Kentucky and No. 4/5 selection Arkansas.
UT tied for third a year ago and finished third outright this season, marking its best back-to-back outcomes in league play since taking second in 2013-14 and first in 2014-15.
Tennessee Lady Vol Notes
Next Win Is NO. 1,400: The Lady Vols have the most all-time wins by a women’s basketball program in NCAA Division I history, standing at 1,399-349 entering the SEC Tournament.
Stacking Up 20s: Rennia Davis enters the SEC Tourney with a five-game streak of scoring 20 points or more.
Hot-Shooting Rae: Rae Burrell leads UT in all games at 17.1 ppg. Her hard work and shooting form have led her to hit 46.6 from the field, 41.9 on threes and 80.3 on free throws this season.
Nets Are Still Smoldering: Starters Tamari Key (75.0), Rennia Davis (61.3), Rae Burrell (58.3), Kasiyahna Kushkituah (55.0) and Jordan Horston (43.8) have helped UT shoot 52.0 percent from the field over its last two games.
Horston’s Star Rising: Jordan Horston has 27 assists vs. 11 turnovers in her last five games and is third in the SEC in all games at 4.3 apg. and second in league contests at 4.7 apg. this season.
“TK” Bolsters UT’s Defense: Tamari Key anchors the back of UT’s defense, ranking second in blocks per game at 3.4 in the SEC and tying for second among peers in all games at 2.9.
Kasi Flipped A Switch: Since becoming a starter, Kasi Kushkituah is averaging 8.4 ppg. and 6.6 rpg.
SEC Honors: UT had four players honored by the league’s coaches. Senior Rennia Davis and junior Rae Burrell were named to the All-SEC First and Second Teams, respectively. Sophomore Tamari Key was chosen for the All-Defensive Team and Marta Suárez was picked for the All-Freshman Team.
Cheryl Miller Finalist: Rennia Davis was announced Wednesday as one of five finalists for the Cheryl Miller Award. She also is a finalist for the Senior CLASS Award and is on several other late season watch lists.
Credit Where Credit Is Due: UT was picked sixth and placed third in the SEC this season. Kellie Harper‘s team is a No. 3 seed – UT’s best since 2015. UT did so despite graduating one starter from 2019-20 and losing two projected starters before the season began. It then lost a starting center to injury and has had a starting forward limited due to injury during the year. Still, the Lady Vols beat four ranked teams, including No. 2/3 South Carolina, and are a projected NCAA Tourney four seed.
Series Notes vs. Arkansas
Tennessee holds a 31-5 all-time record vs. Arkansas, dating back to February 29th, 1992, when UT prevailed, 105-59, in the initial meeting.
The Lady Vols are 15-2 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, FL, on March 3rd of that year.
UT’s only setbacks to the Razorbacks in Knoxville were both one-point losses. UA prevailed 72-71 in overtime on February 23rd, 2012, and 80-79 on January 21st, 2019.
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.
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 3-3 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 would be the third meeting between Harper and Mike Neighbors as head coaches, with Neighbors getting the “W” in 2019-20 and Harper earning one in 2020-21.
Recapping Arkansas’ Last Game
No. 16 Arkansas (19-7, 9-6) finished the regular season with a game to remember, beating Alabama (15-8, 8-8) on February 28th, 94-76.
Mike Neighbors’ Hogs hit 19 threes as a team, setting SEC and UA single-game records.
Amber Ramirez poured in 35 points, a new career-high, while making eight of her 14 threes. Fellow redshirt seniors Chelsea Dungee and Destiny Slocum got in on the act as well, going for 20 points and 17 points, respectively.
The Last Time Tennessee and Arkansas Met
Tennessee opened SEC play with a victory over No. 13/13 Arkansas at home on January 7th, winning 88-73 via an impressive 53.6 shooting percentage.
Senior Rennia Davis and junior Rae Burrell paced UT (7-1, 1-0 SEC), each turning in 26 points. Davis recorded her 33rd career double-double with an all-around effort, adding 11 rebounds. Senior Kasiyahna Kushkituah and sophomore Jordan Horston were also in double digits, chipping in 11 each.
UA (10-3, 1-2 SEC) was led by Chelsea Dungee, who finished with 30 points and seven rebounds. Destiny Slocum and Amber Ramirez had 17 and 15.
Series Notes vs. Ole Miss
UT would enter a 58th meeting in the series with a 49-8 edge, including a 23-2 record in games played in Knoxville, a 21-4 mark in Oxford and a 5-2 slate at neutral sites.
Tennessee has won 33 of the last 34 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 20 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 has allowed Ole Miss to surpass 70 points only once since 1997, would face a Rebels squad that comes in averaging 70.9 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 17.6 points and 7.8 rebounds vs. the Rebels.
UT Head Coach Kellie Harper is 4-0 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 February 27th, 2020. UT earned a 68-67 victory this season on January 28th.
Harper was 6-1 vs. Ole Miss during her playing days at Tennessee from 1995-99.
Recapping Ole Miss’ Last Game
With a chance to escape day one of the SEC Women’s Basketball Tournament, the Rebels delivered yet again with an explosive second half and timely defensive stops to upset No. 17 Kentucky, 73-69, at Memorial Coliseum on February 28th.
Shakira Austin came up big with 22 points and 12 rebounds. Donnetta Johnson tossed in 14 points, while Madison Scott and Snudda Collins each finished with 12 points. Scott made it a double-double by grabbing 10 boards.
The Last Time Tennessee Played Ole Miss
The No. 20/22 Lady Vols came from 13 down to hold off an upset-minded Ole Miss team on January 28th, earning a 68-67 win in Thompson-Boling Arena.
Senior Rennia Davis led Tennessee (11-3, 5-1 SEC) with 21 points and seven rebounds, and junior Rae Burrell logged 17 points and three rebounds. Sophomore Jordan Horston was also in double figures, managing 13 points and three assists.
Donnetta Johnson was the high scorer for Ole Miss (7-6, 1-6 SEC) with 19 points, and Shakira Austin and Snudda Collins were close behind with 16 and 13, respectively.