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HomeSports#7 Tennessee Lady Vols Basketball takes on rival #10 UConn on the...

#7 Tennessee Lady Vols Basketball takes on rival #10 UConn on the road, Sunday

#7 Tennessee (19-3 | 8-2 SEC) at #10 UConn (14-4 | 9-0 BIG EAST)
Sunday, February 6th, 2022 | 11:00am CT
Harford, CT | XL Arena | TV: Fox

UT Lady VolsKnoxville, TN – No. 7/7 Tennessee women’s basketball (19-3/8-2 SEC) and No. 10/9 UConn (14-4/9-0 BIG EAST) reconvene for the third consecutive season and for the 25th time overall in one of the most anticipated rivalries in college athletics.

The Lady Vols and Huskies are set to face off at 11:00am CT on Sunday in a nationally-televised matinee at the XL Center in Hartford, CT. The schools played the last two seasons as part of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Revival Series, raising money for the Pat Summitt Foundation, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, and the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame.  

Beyond that initial two-year commitment, the schools chose to continue meeting on the hardwood as part of a regularly-scheduled match-up this year and next (in Knoxville).
When UT takes the floor Sunday, it will mark its third competition of the week after defeating Arkansas in overtime on Monday (86-83) and then falling at RV/RV Florida on Thursday (84-59). It also will mark the last stop on a grueling stretch of 10 contests with seven of them taking place on the road.
After opening the year 6-0 in away games, the Lady Vols have dropped their last two games outside the friendly confines of Thompson-Boling Arena. Sandwiching Monday’s comeback overtime win over Arkansas were setbacks at Auburn (71-61) and Florida where turnovers contributed to Kellie Harper‘s squad coming out of those games on the short end. Tennessee had won nine straight before dropping two of its last three outings.

UConn caught a break when its Friday meeting with Butler was postponed due to weather-related travel issues for the Bulldogs, preventing what would have been a brutal run of three games in five days. The Huskies come into Sunday on a season-long five-game win streak, prevailing at Providence on Sunday (69-61) and at Creighton on Wednesday (76-56).

Broadcast Information

Kevin Kugler (play-by-play) and Kim Adams (analyst) are on the call for the FOX television broadcast.

The contest also can be heard on Lady Vol Network radio stations and by audio stream, with John Wilkerson filling in for Mickey Dearstone behind the microphone. He will be 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.

UT Lady Vols Projected For No. 2 Seed

In his Bracketology update on February 4th, ESPN’s Charlie Creme has Tennessee as a No. 2 seed in the Spokane Region. The Lady Vols are shown hosting No. 15 Albany in the first round, with the winner facing No. 7 Ohio State or No. 10 Princeton in the second.

ESPN has the Big Orange at No. 6 in its January 31st Women’s College Basketball Power Rankings.

The NCAA NET Rankings show UT ranked No. 14 through February 3rd, while the NCAA Toughest Schedule report had the Lady Vols at No. 13 (cumulative opposition).

RealTimeRPI.com has UT at No. 4 in RPI as of Feb. 4 with a calculation of .6825 and No. 8 in strength of schedule.

About The Tennessee Lady Vols

The Lady Vols have been one of the nation’s most surprising stories of 2021-22, opening up at 19-3 and sitting near the top of the SEC standings and climbing to No. 4 in the AP Poll (currently No. 7) 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).

Burrell and Horston are back in form, but the Lady Vols lost another player for the season on January 23rd when graduate power forward and team leader Keyen Green suffered a left knee injury vs. Georgia. UT continues to adjust to that unfortunate loss.
Tennessee picked up its fifth victory over a ranked team this season on January 23rd, as the Lady Vols came from nine down to defeat No. 13/13 Georgia in Athens, 63-55. UT recorded four wins over ranked foes the entire 2020-21 campaign and had only one ranked win in 2019-20.
The Big Orange women also have victories over No. 23/22 South Florida (52-49), No. 12/21 Texas (74-70 OT), No. 25/23 Texas A&M (73-45), and No. 19/20 Kentucky (84-58) to their credit and beat RV/RV Virginia Tech (64-58) and RV/RV Ole Miss (70-58) on the road this season.

Tennessee is led statistically by Jordan Horston, a dynamic 6-2 junior guard, who paces the team in scoring (15.6 ppg.), rebounding (9.4), assists (3.7 apg.), and steals (1.5) in a breakout season for the five-star player who came out of high school ranked No. 2 overall and the No. 1 guard in the 2019 espnW HoopGurlz 100. 

Horston leads the Lady Vols with 10 double-doubles and has topped UT in scoring 12 times, including double-doubles in five of her last eight games.

Senior All-SEC First Team preseason pick Rae Burrell (10.1 ppg., 3.0 rpg.) has seen action the past nine games after missing the previous 12 contests due to a leg injury suffered in the opener vs. Southern Illinois. She has hit double figures in four of the past six games, hitting 10+ for the first time since Nov. 10, tallying 11 at Vanderbilt, 14 vs. Kentucky, 13 vs. Georgia and a season-high 21 vs. Arkansas.

Over her last five games, Burrell is putting up 13.0 ppg. and 4.6 rpg. and shooting 40 percent from the field, 50 percent on threes, and 86 percent from the free-throw line.

Tamari Key, a 6-6 junior center, is putting up 10.0 ppg. and 8.4 rpg. to go along with 3.6 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 12 games for the Lady Vols. She leads the nation in blocked shots (80) and is second in bpg. (3.64), sitting in UT’s single-season top 10 for the third time at No. 7 with 80 swats in 22 contests. She also ranks fifth (86, 2019-20, 31 games) and ninth (72, 2020-21, 25 games) on that list.

Alexus Dye, a 6-0 forward, is fourth among UT players in scoring at 9.3 ppg. She is third in rebounding at 7.6 rpg and has three double-doubles, including a 13/10 effort vs. Arkansas most recently. The graduate transfer from Troy has scored in double figures 10 times, including a team-high 10 points vs. Florida.

Graduate guard Jordan Walker, who had 17 points vs. Auburn, is Tennessee’s fifth-highest scorer, putting up 7.8 ppg., while tallying 3.8 rpg. and 3.1 apg. to rank fourth and second for UT in those categories.

Freshman guard/forward Sara Puckett is UT’s sixth-leading scorer. The No. 43 espnW prospect coming out of high school is putting up 7.5 ppg. and is shooting 50.0 percent from the field, 33.3 percent on threes, and 77.8 percent on free throws, and has scored in double figures six times, including a critical 10-point, 10-rebound double-double in the win over Arkansas on January 31st.

Sophomore Tess Darby has emerged this season as Tennessee’s leading long-distance threat, connecting on 32 of 85 attempts (37.6 pct.). Jordan Walker (33.3) and Sara Puckett (33.3) have hit 19 and 18 treys, respectively.

Jordan Horston is putting up 19.8 points, 11.2 rebounds, and 4.2 assists in six games vs. ranked foes in 2021-22.

Tennessee has recorded 51 blocked shots vs. ranked opponents, averaging 8.5 per contest. Tamari Key has tallied 35 of those and averages 5.8 per game.

The Lady Vols are outscoring ranked foes, 68.2 to 58.5, this season and outshooting them from the field, 38.3 to 32.5 percent.

Tennessee has a +9.7 rebound margin vs. ranked opponents (50.3 to 40.7).

Rae Burrell is hitting 50 percent on threes (5-10) vs. ranked teams, followed by Jordan Horston (38.9), Tess Darby (35.7), Sara Puckett (35.7) and Jordan Walker (30.0).

Looking Back At The Last Game

No. 7/7 Tennessee couldn’t overcome a hot-handed Florida squad that shot a season-best 53.2 percent Thursday night, falling 84-59 in Exactech Arena at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center.

Graduate Alexus Dye led UT (19-3, 8-2 SEC) with 10 points and six rebounds. Senior Rae Burrell and sophomore Tess Darby each finished with nine points, and junior Tamari Key had eight points and eight rebounds.

Kiara Smith was the high scorer for Florida (16-6, 6-3 SEC), turning in 25 points. Nina Rickards was the Gators’ second-leading scorer with 16, and Jordyn Merritt posted 13.

Notables From Tennessee’s Last Game

Darby From Distance

Tess Darby drained three treys on the night, going three of four from behind the arc. She has hit 32 threes on the season, and in SEC play she is averaging a smooth 45.7 percent from long range.

UT-UConn Series Notes

UConn leads the all-time series, 15-9, and has won the last two meetings since the series was resumed in 2020.

Tennessee has won three of the last five games (Won: 2005, 2006, 2007; Lost: 2020, 2021) between these programs. It did so as the higher-ranked team each time it won.

No. 23/23 Tennessee took a 31-28 lead into halftime but couldn’t hang on, falling 60-45 to No. 3/5 UConn in front of a crowd of 13,659 the last time these teams met at the XL Center on January 23rd, 2020.

UT is 7-10 vs. the Huskies during regular-season encounters and 2-5 during the postseason.

The Lady Vols are 4-5 on the road, 3-5 at home, and 2-5 at neutral sites vs. the Huskies.

The Lady Vols are 2-4 in games played in Hartford and 2-1 in contests held on campus in Storrs.
The late Pat Summitt won eight NCAA titles while at Tennessee, and UConn’s Geno Auriemma has claimed 11, making them the most successful coaches in NCAA Division I women’s basketball.
Tennessee won NCAA titles in 1987, 1989, 1991, 1996, 1997, 1998, 2007 and 2008.
UConn won NCAA crowns in 1995, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2009, 2010, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016.

Kellie Harper is 0-2 vs. UConn as a head coach, but she was 4-1 vs. the Huskies in games she played as a Lady Vol.

Those scores as a player were 53-59 in Knoxville on January 6th, 1996; 88-83 in Charlotte (OT/NCAA FF Semis) on March 29th, 1996; 91-81 in Iowa City on March 24th, 1997 (MW Reg. Final); 84-69 in Knoxville on January 3rd, 1998; and 92-81 in Storrs on January 10th, 1999.

Harper (then Jolly) had 19 points and three assists vs. the Huskies in the 1997 Midwest Regional Final in Iowa City.

UConn’s Evina Westbrook played two seasons at Tennessee before making the move to Storrs three summers ago.

UConn beat UT, 70-64, for the 1995 NCAA title in Minneapolis.

UT beat UConn in the Final Four semifinals, 88-83 (OT), en route to the 1996 crown in Cincinnati.

UConn won the 2000 NCAA title game in Philadelphia, 71-52.

Connecticut also won in 2002 in San Antonio (NCAA FF Semis), 2003 in Atlanta (NCAA FF title game), and 2004 in New Orleans (NCAA FF title game).

About the UConn Huskies

The Huskies have three active players scoring in double figures, including Christyn Williams (15.2), Caroline Ducharme (12.6), and Olivia Nelson-Ododa (10.2).

Leading scorer and 2021 consensus national player of the year Paige Bueckers (21.2) remains sidelined due to injury but is expected back soon.

UConn played a rotation of seven players Wednesday vs. Creighton, with five hitting double figures.

About UConn Head Coach Geno Auriemma

UConn is led by Geno Auriemma, who is 1,133-148 with 11 NCAA titles in 37 seasons.

A 2006 inductee to both the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame, Auriemma became just the fourth women’s basketball coach to reach 1,000 career wins on Dec. 19, 2017. 

Last Time Lady Vols Played The Huskies

Olivia Nelson-Ododa and Christyn Williams scored 17 points apiece, and 10th-ranked UConn shook off a slow start to beat Creighton, 76-56, on Wednesday night with an ill coach Geno Auriemma in the locker room the entire game.

The Huskies, who were not sharp in a win over Providence on Sunday, fell behind by double digits early against the Bluejays and didn’t take their first lead until the third quarter.

Nelson-Ododa added 13 rebounds for her fifth double-double of the season, and she also had six assists. Caroline Ducharme scored 13 points, and Evina Westbrook added 10.

When UT And UConn Last Met

The No. 25/RV Lady Vols took a four-point lead into the final quarter but couldn’t hold on, falling 67-61 to No. 3/5 UConn in Thompson-Boling Arena on January 21st, 2021, in front of a crowd of 3,553, the largest of any NCAA women’s game at that point during the 2020-21 season.

Tennessee (9-3, 3-1 SEC) was led by junior Rae Burrell, who had 18 points and eight rebounds. Senior Rennia Davis narrowly missed a double-double with 11 points and nine rebounds, and sophomore Tamari Key and freshman Marta Suárez each turned in 10 points.

Christyn Williams led UConn (9-0, 7-0 BIG EAST) with 20 points, and Evina Westbrook and Aubrey Griffin managed 15 and 10, respectively.

Next Up For UT Lady Vols Basketball

After taking on UConn, the Tennessee women’s basketball team will return to SEC competition and play their next two tilts at Thompson-Boling Arena.

Tennessee hosts Missouri on Thursday (SEC Network, 5:30pm CT) and welcomes Vanderbilt to Rocky Top on Sunday (SEC Network, 11:00am CT)

The Vandy contest is UT’s Play4Kay Game, and both teams will don pink as part of their uniform combinations to bring awareness to the need for research and funding toward the battle against breast cancer.


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