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HomeSports#5 Tennessee Lady Vols Basketball hosts #19 Kentucky, Sunday

#5 Tennessee Lady Vols Basketball hosts #19 Kentucky, Sunday

#5 Tennessee (16-1 | 5-0 SEC) vs. #19 Kentucky (8-4 | 101 SEC)
Sunday, January 16th, 2022 | 2:02pm CT
Knoxville, TN | Thompson-Boling Arena | TV: ESPN

UT Lady VolsKnoxville, TN – No. 5/6 Tennessee (16-1/5-0 SEC) and No. 19/20 Kentucky (8-4/1-1 SEC) will lock horns on Sunday at 2:02pm CT at Thompson-Boling Arena in Knoxville, tipping off the SEC’s 11th-annual observance of We Back Pat Week.

The Lady Vols and Wildcats will meet for the 72nd time in a series that dates back to 1976, with LVFLs and former teammates Kellie Harper of UT and Kyra Elzy of UK facing another as head coaches for the third time. The Big Orange won in Knoxville last season on January 24th, while the Big Blue prevailed in Lexington on February 11th.

This will mark UT’s highest-ranking entering this match-up since coming in at No. 5/5 and defeating a No. 12/11 Kentucky team, 75-64, in the semifinals of the SEC Tournament in Little Rock, AK, on March 7th, 2015. The Lady Vols take a current seven-game winning streak into this season’s contest and also carry a seven-game SEC victory string that began last season on February 25th at Missouri. It’s the longest league-winning spree since UT won 17 in a row spanning the 2013-14 and 2014-15 campaigns.

Tennessee remained unbeaten in league play on Thursday night in Nashville, holding Vanderbilt to 26.7 percent shooting en route to a 65-51 triumph at Memorial Gymnasium. It marked UT’s 13th “W” in the last 14 meetings between the rivals, including seven in a row in Music City.

It marked the 14th time in 17 games that Tennessee held its opponent to 60 points or fewer, the 17th time no team has shot better than 36 percent from the field, and the 16th time in 17 contests UT has out-rebounded its foe.

Kentucky comes in better-rested following an open date on Thursday after a make-up contest with Mississippi State was postponed due to COVID-19 protocols within the Bulldog program.

UK is 1-1 in league play thus far after beating Georgia in Lexington, 84-76, on Jan. 6 and falling at No. 1/1 South Carolina, 74-54, on January 9th.

Broadcast Information

Courtney Lyle (play-by-play) and Carolyn Peck (analyst) will have the call for the ESPN broadcast.

All of the games included in the ESPN package (ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU) 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 23rd 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.

Air time for games on the Lady Vol Radio Network generally occurs 30 minutes prior to tip-off.

Game Promotions

We Back Pat Week: The Southeastern Conference is observing the 11th annual “We Back Pat” Week, a week-long initiative focused on bringing awareness and recognition to the Pat Summitt Foundation, a fund of East Tennessee Foundation, and its fight against Alzheimer’s disease.

During the week of January 16-23, SEC member institutions will offer support to the Foundation during each of their own We Back Pat games in 14 cities through a variety of efforts, including promotional public address announcements and video endorsements.

The Pat Summitt Foundation Fund was launched on November 27th, 2011, by Pat Summitt after her diagnosis of early-onset dementia, Alzheimer’s type, at the age of 59.

Flex Pack: Get admission to five games vs. SEC opponents, with prices starting at $24.00 at AllVols.com.

Free parking and free shuttle service from the Ag Campus (Lot CF near Brehm & Food Science Bldgs.).

For additional details and information, please call 865.974.1734 or visit the Fans tab on UTSports.com and click on the Fan Experience link.

About the Tennessee Lady Vols

The Lady Vols are one of the nation’s biggest stories of 2021-22, opening up at 16-1, sitting atop the SEC standings, and climbing to No. 5 in the AP Poll against one of the NCAA’s toughest schedules despite losing returning starter Marta Suárez for the season to a lower leg injury and playing without top returning scorer Rae Burrell for 12 games (leg injury) and this year’s leading scorer and rebounder Jordan Horston for three (lower leg injury/illness).

Tennessee picked up its third victory over a ranked team this season on January 6th, as the Lady Vols rolled past No. 25/23 Texas A&M in Knoxville, 73-45. UT, which carded four wins over ranked foes last season, only had one ranked win at that point a year ago.
The Big Orange women also have victories over No. 23/22 South Florida (52-49) and No. 12/21 Texas (74-70 OT) to their credit and beat an RV/RV Virginia Tech squad, 64-58, all without Rae Burrell playing.

Tennessee is led by Jordan Horston, an electric 6-2 junior guard, who paces the team in scoring (15.5 ppg.), rebounding (9.9) and assists (3.9 apg.) in a breakout season for the player who came out of high school ranked No. 2 overall and the No. 1 guard in the 2019 espnW HoopGurlz 100. She

Horston leads the Lady Vols with eight double-doubles and has topped UT in scoring nine times, including double-doubles the last three games.

Tamari Key, a 6-6 junior center, is putting up 10.4 ppg. and 8.8 rpg. to go along with 3.9 bpg. She had a triple-double of 10 points, 18 rebounds and 10 blocks in UT’s 74-70 OT victory over No. 12/21 Texas.

Key, rated No. 47 as a prep by espnW, is second on the team with seven double-doubles thus far and has scored in double figures in nine of her last 12 games for the best stretch of her career. She leads the nation in blocked shots (66) and is second in bpg. (3.88), entering UT’s single-season top 10 for the third time at No. 10 with 66 swats in only 17 contests. She also ranks fifth (86, 2019-20, 31 games) and eighth (72, 2020-21, 25 games) on that list.

Alexus Dye, a 6-0 forward, is third among active UT players in scoring at 10.1 ppg. She is third in rebounding at 7.9 rpg and has three double-doubles, including a 13/10 effort vs. Arkansas last Sunday. The graduate transfer from Troy has scored in double figures in five of the past eight games.

Freshman guard/forward Sara Puckett is UT’s fourth-leading scorer. The No. 43 espnW prospect coming out of high school is putting up 7.6 ppg. and is shooting 49.0 percent from the field, 35.7 percent on threes and 77.8 percent on free throws, and has scored in double figures five times. She got her first career starts vs. UTC and Alabama during Jordan Horston’s absence because of illness.

Senior All-SEC First Team preseason pick Rae Burrell (7.2 ppg.) has seen action the past four games (12/17/12/16 minutes) after missing the previous 12 contests due to a leg injury suffered in the opener vs. Southern Illinois. Her most recent game was her best, as she hit double figures in scoring for the first time since November 10th, tallying 11 at Vanderbilt. She is fifth in scoring at 7.2 ppg.

Graduate guard Jordan Walker, who had eight points and four boards vs. Vandy, continues to be Tennessee’s fifth-highest scorer, putting up 7.3 ppg., while pulling down 3.8 rpg. and 3.4 apg. to rank fourth and second for UT in those categories.

The Tennessee Lady Vols have given up only 53.8 ppg. at home this season, including 43.3 over the past three games vs. Chattanooga (41), Alabama (44), and #25/23 Texas A&M (45).

As UT faces No. 19/20 Kentucky on Sunday, Jordan Horston enters with averages of 22.3 ppg., 12.3 rpg. and 4.0 apg. vs. ranked teams in 2021-22.

Tennessee Notes During SEC Play

Kellie Harper‘s squad is the only remaining undefeated team in league play, standing at 5-0, and joins #1 South Carolina (also 16-1) as the SEC teams with the best overall records.

UT is scoring 68.0 ppg. and allowing 52.2. ppg., while shooting 46.8 percent from the field and holding opponents to only 28.0 percent.

Tennessee is out-rebounding SEC teams, 49.6 to 36.8 for +12.8.

The Lady Vols have limited foes to shooting only 17.9 percent from the three-point arc, including games vs. noted three-ball teams Arkansas and Texas A&M.

Jordan Horston (16.5 ppg., 11.0 rpg. and 4.0 apg.), Tamari Key (11.0 ppg., 7.6 rpg. and 4.6 bpg.), Alexus Dye (9.6 ppg., 6.6 rpg.) and Jordan Walker (9.2 ppg., 4.2 rpg., 3.6 apg.) have led UT in its first five conference games.

Also worth noting, Tess Darby (6.2 ppg.) is nine of 22 on threes (40.9) during league play, while Keyen Green (6.2 ppg.) is hitting 76.5 percent of her field goal attempts.

Besides the five starters, freshmen Brooklynn Miles (12.2) and Sara Puckett (17.8) are averaging the most minutes per game in SEC games for Tennessee.

National Attention Incoming

Tennessee’s outstanding start has generated interest from some national media outlets and organizations.

Veteran journalist Mike Lopresti penned a story for NCAA.com on January 14th, entitled “Tennessee women’s basketball coach Kellie Harper fights to restore ‘awe factor,’ glory days to storied program.”

Also on January 14th, AP’s Teresa Walker included the Lady Vols in her story: “Big-name women’s basketball programs returning to prominence.”

UT fans also can expect to read an upcoming profile by The Athletic’s senior women’s basketball writer, Chantel Jennings.

Looking Back At The Last Game

No. 5/6 Tennessee remained perfect in SEC play, defeating Vanderbilt at Memorial Gymnasium in Nashville on Thursday night, 65-51.

UT (16-1, 5-0 SEC), which is off to its best league start since opening at 13-0 in 2014-15, was led by junior Jordan Horston. The 6-foot-2 guard stuffed the stat sheet with 16 points, 13 rebounds, five assists, and a career-high-tying four blocks. Senior Rae Burrell and junior Tamari Key were also in double figures with 11 and 10, respectively.

yana Moore was the high scorer for Vanderbilt (10-7, 1-2 SEC) with 16, and Brinae Alexander was close behind with 15.

Notables From Tennesse’s Last Game

Top 10 Again

Tamari Key recorded a block at Vandy, moving into UT’s single-season Top 10 records for the third time in her career. She currently occupies No. 5 (86, 2019-20), No. 8 (72, 2020-21), and No. 10 (66, 2021-22).

Defense Making A Difference

Tennessee’s defense continues to pose problems for opponents, with the Commodores being held to 26.7 percent shooting on the night, 15.3 percent below their season average of 42.0.

The UT Lady Vols’ defense has kept all 17 opponents at 36 percent shooting or below this season, and through five SEC games Tennessee is holding opponents to just 28.0 percent from the floor. 

Double-Doubles Trending

Jordan Horston logged her eighth double-double of the season against VU. Tennessee has logged 19 double-doubles on the season and at least one Lady Vol has managed a double-double in 16 of 17 games so far.

Another 50-Board Night

Tennessee, the nation’s No. 1 rebounding team, pulled down 50 boards yet again. It marked the 10th time this season and the third occasion in five SEC contests that the Lady Vols had grabbed that many caroms.

Tennessee-Kentucky Series Notes

This marks the 72nd edition of Tennessee vs. Kentucky, with the Lady Vols leading the series, 56-15.

The Lady Vols own a 25-4 mark against UK in games played in Knoxville, with the Wildcats winning on Rocky Top in 1983, 1985, 2014 and 2019.

Tennessee is 21-10 vs. Kentucky in Lexington and 10-1 at neutral sites. The Lady Vols are 9-1 in postseason tournament games.

UT has faced only one other team as many times as the Wildcats – Vanderbilt in 85 meetings through January 13th, 2022.

The Lady Vols have won seven of the last 12 games in the series, but UK has taken four of the past five.

Tennessee is 20-8 all-time at Memorial Coliseum and 1-2 in Rupp Arena (RA), where the teams met last on February 11th, 2021.

UT is 3-1 in overtime games vs. Kentucky, including 3-0 in Lexington and 0-1 in Knoxville, with the last OT contest coming in 1994.

Kellie Harper is 1-3 all-time vs. Kentucky, but she is 1-1 head-to-head vs. Kyra Elzy.

Those Connections, Though

There will be lots of familiar faces on the sidelines for Sunday’s game, and this will mark the third time a Lady Vol head coach has squared off against a former UT teammate leading another program.

The initial times occurred last season on January 24th in Knoxville and on Feb. 11 in Lexington, with each team holding serve in its respective arena.

UT’s Kellie Harper (1995-99) was teammates from 1996-99 at Tennessee with Kentucky head coach Kyra Elzy (1996-2001) and assistant coach Niya Butts (1996-2000). The trio played together on the second and third of UT’s three consecutive NCAA titles in 1996, 1997, and 1998.
Elzy served a stint on UT’s staff that included roles as an assistant coach and associate head coach from 2012-16.

Last season, Elzy took over at UK following the retirement of former head coach Matthew Mitchell, who was a graduate assistant at UT in 1999-2000.

UK assistant Amber Smith was a G.A. at Tennessee in 2013-14. 

Wildcat starter Jazmine Massengill played at Tennessee from 2018-20 before transferring to UK after the 2019-20 season. Massengill is one of three Tennessee residents on the 2021-22 Kentucky roster.

UT features last year’s Miss Kentucky Basketball in and the state’s 2021 Gatorade Player of the Year in Brooklynn Miles of Franklin County High School in Frankfort, Ky.

Tennessee senior Rae Burrell and Kentucky redshirt junior Dre’Una Edwards are former teammates and graduates of Liberty High School in Las Vegas, Nev.

About the Kentucky Wildcats

The Wildcats, losers of three of their last five, are led by reigning two-time SEC Player of the Year Rhyne Howard, who is putting up 18.8 ppg. and grabbing 6.5 rpg.

UK also gets 16.7 ppg. and 8.0 rpg. from Dre’Una Edwards, 12.3 ppg. from Robyn Benton and 10.8 ppg. from Jada Walker.

The Cats suffered a close loss at current No. 3/2 Louisville on December 12th, falling 64-58 at the KFC Yum! Center.

About Kentucky Head Coach Kyra Elzy

Former UT player and coaching staff member Kyra Elzy is in her second season as head coach at Kentucky. The native of LaGrange, KY, is 26-13.

Last Time Kentucky Played

Robyn Benton scored 11 points and grabbed four rebounds but the 21st-ranked Kentucky women’s basketball team lost at top-ranked South Carolina 74-54 on January 9th.

Kentucky (8-4, 1-1 SEC) got 10 points and seven rebounds from Jazmine Massengill. Dre’una Edwards and Treasure Hunt also scored 10 points apiece, while Rhyne Howard had nine points, eight rebounds, six assists, two blocks, and two steals.

The taller Gamecocks held a 54-22 advantage on points in the paint and 55-37 in rebounding. Kentucky made 21 of 71 (29.6 percent) from the floor, while South Carolina made 31 of 69 (44.9 percent) of its shots.

When Tennessee and Kentucky Last Met

No. 16/19 Tennessee outscored Kentucky 21-9 in the third quarter to erase an 11-point halftime deficit but couldn’t hold off a No. 20/18 UK team that went a perfect 5-of-5 from behind the arc in the fourth quarter, falling 71-56 in Rupp Arena on Feb. 11, 2021.

Junior Rae Burrell was the high scorer for the Lady Vols (12-4, 6-2 SEC), turning in 22 points and six rebounds. Sophomore Jordan Horston pitched in 11 points and three assists, and redshirt junior Jordan Walker led the team in rebounding with nine boards.

UT played without all-star senior forward Rennia Davis, who did not make the trip to Lexington due to medical reasons.

Chasity Patterson had the hot hand for the Wildcats (14-5, 7-4 SEC) with 21 points, and Jazmine Massengill turned in 11.

Next Up For UT Lady Vols

After an open date on January 20th, the Tennessee women’s basketball team will be back in action on the road on January 23rd and 27th.

Next Sunday, UT travels to Athens to take on Georgia at Stegeman Coliseum at 1:00pm CT. SEC Network will televise that contest.

The match-up is Georgia’s “We Back Pat” game as part of the SEC’s week-long initiative to create awareness about the Pat Summitt Foundation and its efforts in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease.

The second stop is Auburn, where the Lady Vols and Tigers will tussle at 8:00pm ET (7:00pm CT) on January 27th. The game will be streamed on SECN+.


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