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HomeSports#12 Tennessee Lady Vols Basketball travels to Alabama, Thursday

#12 Tennessee Lady Vols Basketball travels to Alabama, Thursday

#12 Tennessee (21-4 | 10-2 SEC) at Alabama (12-11 | 3-9 SEC)
Thursday, February 17th, 2022 | 7:02pm ET / 6:02pm CT
Tuscaloosa, AL | Coleman Coliseum

UT Lady VolsKnoxville, TN – No. 12/8 Tennessee women’s basketball (21-4/10-2 SEC) will be at Coleman Coliseum in Tuscaloosa Thursday night to take on Alabama (12-11/3-9 SEC) at 7:02pm ET (6:02pm CT).

The Lady Vols and Crimson Tide will meet for the second time this season and for the 60th occasion since the series began on January 22nd, 1977, with UT looking to improve its record to 53-7 all-time vs. Bama.

Kellie Harper‘s squad opened SEC play back on December 30th in Knoxville with a 62-44 victory over the Tide during the middle of a nine-game win streak.

The Big Orange women have now won eight straight at home, including their last two contests, but they look to snap a three-game road losing streak after stumbling at Auburn, Florida, and UConn over the past two weeks.
 
The Tennessee Lady Vols come to Alabama after posting back-to-back home wins last week over Missouri and Vanderbilt by scores of 76-62 and 66-52, respectively
 
Bama, meanwhile, has dropped three of its last four and eight of its last 10. Kentucky managed to defend its home court on Sunday, holding off the Crimson Tide, 67-63, in Lexington.
 
The trip to Tuscaloosa marks the first of two road games this week, marking the final two contests of the regular season that will be played away from Thompson-Boling Arena.

Broadcast Information

Roger Hoover (play-by-play), Richard Hendrix (analyst), and Kennedy Chase (reporter) will have the call for the SECN+ live stream 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. 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.


Tennessee In SEC Play

Tennessee is 424-90 (.825) in SEC regular-season games through Vanderbilt, winning 18 regular-season championships and capturing 17 SEC tourney titles.

Tennessee Head Coach Kellie Harper is 29-12 in SEC games in her third year on Rocky Top, including 10-2 in 2021-22, and is 2-2 in SEC Tournament play.

UT tied for third in 2019-20 and finished third outright in 2020-21, marking its best back-to-back outcomes in league play since taking second in 2013-14 and first in 2014-15.

The Lady Vols were picked second in the 2021-22 SEC Preseason Media Poll and No. 3 in the SEC Preseason Coaches Poll, marking their best positions since 2015-16 and 2016-17, respectively.

Lots Of Connections In This One

This year’s Tennessee squad features three players who hail from Alabama, two coaches who spent their childhood in the state, two more coaches who worked at a university there and a support staff member who worked at that same university at a different time. Alabama features a former UT staffer on its payroll.

Graduate Alexus Dye calls Birmingham home, while freshmen Sara Puckett and Karoline Striplin come from Muscle Shoals and Hartford, respectively.

Dye and Bama’s Brittany Davis were teammates at Gulf Coast State College in 2018-19 and helped the school to a JUCO national title.

UT assistant Samantha Williams was born in Luverne, AL, before later moving to Louisville, Ky., while Joy McCorvey is from Brewton, Ala., and graduated from T.R. Miller High School.

Head coach Kellie Harper spent two years from 1999-2001 on Joe Ciampi’s staff at Auburn (admin. asst., then assistant coach), while Jon Harper graduated from Auburn and spent three seasons as a practice player, manager, and intern for Ciampi from 1996-99.
 
Samantha Williams played for the Tigers during Jon Harper‘s time there.
 
Lady Vol strength and conditioning coach Bryan Tatum worked with the Auburn football program in the same capacity from 2014-21.
 
Alabama director of operations Brian Johnson is in his sixth season with the Tide and spent four seasons on Holly Warlick’s Lady Vol staff as a manager, graduating from UT in 2016.

UT No. 12/8 In Polls

After opening the year ranked No. 15/12, the Lady Vols climbed to No. 4 in the January 24th AP Poll and hit a best of No. 5 in the January 25th USA TODAY/WBCA Coaches Poll. This week, they stand at No. 12 in the AP Poll and No. 8 in the Coaches Poll.

The No. 4/5 plateau was the highest combination of rankings since the Lady Vols were No. 4/5 in the November 23rd and 24th polls of the 2015-16 campaign.

UT began that 2015-16 season at No. 4 in each poll and stayed there for two more weeks in the AP Top 25 but was relegated to No. 5 in the coaches poll the following two polling periods.

About Tennessee Lady Vols Basketball

Tennessee has dealt with more than its fair share of injuries in 2021-22. While the Lady Vols were able to overcome some of their misfortunes, they are in the process of trying to move past another setback.

The latest injury occurred on January 23rd at Georgia, when reserve forward/center and team leader Keyen Green (7.0 ppg., 3.2 rpg.) was lost for the year due to a knee injury.

While UT was able to hold on and defeat the Bulldogs in that game, they subsequently dropped three out of their next four games by substantial margins, revealing just how vital Green was to the team. UT was able to finally get back on the winning track vs. Missouri and Vanderbilt and hopes to continue that positive momentum vs. Alabama.

Marta Suárez, a 6-2 guard/forward (4.1 ppg., 3.6 rpg.), another glue-type player for this program, already was sitting out the year due to an injury, so Green’s loss even more severely affected Tennessee’s depth.

UT’s top returnee, preseason All-SEC pick Rae Burrell, suffered a knee injury in game one and missed 12 games before gradually working her way back into the lineup. Her 10.6 ppg., 3.0 rpg. stat line is shy of last season’s 16.8 ppg., 4.6 rpg. productivity, but she is showing signs of upward mobility.

All of that said, the Lady Vols still stand at 21-4 overall and 10-2 in SEC play as they prepare to close out the regular season with their final four contests.


Tennessee picked up its fifth victory over a ranked team this season on Jan. 23, 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 (16.4 ppg.), rebounding (9.6), assists (3.9 apg.), and steals (1.4) 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, who has made the top 10 list for the Ann Meyers Drysdale Award and watch lists for the Naismith Trophy and Wooden Award, leads the Lady Vols with 12 double-doubles and has topped UT in scoring 15 times. She has seven games of 20 or more points, including four of the past six contests.

Senior All-SEC First Team preseason pick Rae Burrell (10.6 ppg., 3.0 rpg.) has seen action the past 12 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 seven of the past nine games, hitting 10+ for the first time since Nov. 10 with 11 at Vanderbilt on Jan. 13 and carding a season-high 21 vs. Arkansas on Jan. 31. Over her last five games, Burrell is producing 13.4 ppg. and 3.8 rpg. while hitting 94.4 percent on free throws.

Tamari Key, a 6-6 junior center, is putting up 9.6 ppg. and 8.0 rpg. to go along with 3.5 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 (88) and is second in bpg. (3.52), sitting in UT’s single-season top 10 for the third time at No. 5 with 88 swats in 24 contests. The member of the Lisa Leslie Award Top 10 also ranks sixth (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 9.0 ppg. She is third in rebounding at 7.1 rpg and has three double-doubles, including a 13/10 effort vs. Arkansas most recently. The graduate transfer from Troy, who is among the Katrina McClain Award Top 10, has scored in double figures 11 times, including an 11-point effort vs. Missouri.

Graduate guard Jordan Walker, who had 17 points vs. Auburn, is Tennessee’s fifth-highest scorer, putting up 7.6 ppg., while tallying 3.9 rpg. and 3.0 apg. to rank fourth and second for UT in those categories. Walker is tied for third on the team with Tamari Key at 9.3 ppg. in SEC games and grabs 4.2 rpg.

Freshman guard/forward Sara Puckett is UT’s sixth-leading scorer. The No. 43 espnW prospect coming out of high school is putting up 7.2 ppg. and is shooting 47.7 percent from the field, 33.9 percent on threes, and 76.2 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 36 of 98 attempts (36.7 pct.). Sara Puckett (33.9) and Jordan Walker (30.8) have hit 21 and 20 treys, respectively.

Darby has turned the ball over only four times in eight road games this season.
 
Tennessee hasn’t been a great shooting team on the road, but it still hits at a higher percentage from the field than opponents, 39.5 to 35.5 percent.
 
The Lady Vols have nearly a double-digit rebound margin on the road, pulling down 44.6 per contest to their opponents’ 34.9 (+9.7).
 
Tamari Key has hit 56.3 percent from the field, and Sara Puckett has made 52.1 percent of her makes in UT’s road games.

Jordan Walker is eight of 18 on threes (44.4) on the road to lead the Lady Vols.

Tennessee Notes During SEC  Play

Kellie Harper‘s squad holds down second place in the SEC standings, trailing No. 1/1 South Carolina (11-1) by a game at 10-2 and possessing a one-game lead over Florida and LSU (both 9-3 in league play).

Tennessee is scoring 69.6 ppg. (5th) and allowing 60.5 ppg. (2nd), while shooting 41.6 percent (7th) from the field and holding opponents to only 34.4 percent (2nd) on field goals in SEC contests.

Tennessee is out-rebounding SEC teams 48.5 (1st) to 35.3 (3rd) for a +13.2 margin (2nd).

The Lady Vols have limited SEC foes to shooting only 23.9 percent (1st) from the three-point arc, including games vs. noted three-ball teams Arkansas (twice), Texas A&M, Missouri, and Florida.

UT has worked to elevate its free-throw shooting. It shot 59.2 vs. non-conference foes and has raised it to 67.9 percent in 12 SEC games to rank ninth.

Jordan Horston (16.6 ppg., 10.0 rpg. and 4.0 apg.) leads the team statistically against league competition, followed by Rae Burrell (10.5 ppg., 3.2 rpg.), Jordan Walker (9.3 ppg., 4.2 rpg., 2.8 apg.), Tamari Key (9.3 ppg., 7.2 rpg.) and Alexus Dye (8.3 ppg., 6.3 rpg.).

Horston is the third-leading rebounder in league play, is number six in assists per game, and No. 10 in scoring.

Key is shooting 57.1 percent from the floor vs. SEC foes and has blocked 44 shots already for a 3.7 blocks per game average to lead the SEC.

Also worth noting, Tess Darby (5.8 ppg.) is 20 of 44 on threes (45.5) during league play, while Jordan Horston is 12 of 33 (36.4), Rae Burrell is 10 of 31 (32.3) and Jordan Walker is nine of 28 (32.1).


Jordan Walker (80.0) and Alexus Dye (76.9) have been much improved at the charity stripe during league play.

UT is 9-0 in SEC games this season in which it holds opponents to 70 points or fewer.

Recapping The Last Game

Reaching 10 wins in Southeastern Conference action, the No. 13/10 Lady Volunteer basketball squad bested Vanderbilt, 66-52, Sunday afternoon at Thompson-Boling Arena.

Guard Jordan Horston was stellar for the Lady Vols in the win, scoring 16 points, pulling down 13 boards and dishing out seven assists in her second-straight game with a double-double and her 12th on the season. The junior also swatted away two shots.

Rae Burrell posted her third game in a row with double-figure points off the bench and seventh game in nine scoring 10 plus. The senior tallied 15 points, while four Lady Vols scored eight: graduate Alexus Dye, graduate Jordan Walker, junior Tamari Key and freshman Sara Puckett.

Tennessee (21-4, 10-2 SEC), which retained sole possession of second place in the league standings, now is 16-0 this season when holding opponents under 60 points and 20-0 when limiting them to 70 or fewer. The Big Orange dominated on the glass all day long, out-rebounding the Commodores, 48-29, and posting their 19th double-digit margin on the boards in 25 contests.

UT also got a jolt from its bench, which posted 26 points to VU’s seven and used its height advantage to double up Vandy on points in the paint, 32-16.

Notables From Tennessee’s Last Game

In Good Company

Horston recorded her 12th double-double of the season against Vanderbilt to tie Glory Johnson’s total as a junior. Only five Lady Vol juniors have ever recorded more in a single season.

Mercedes Russell holds the record with 19, Isabelle Harrison is second with 18, Chamique Holdsclaw is third with 16, Candace Parker is fourth with 14, and Daedra Charles is fifth with 13. 

Owning The Glass

Tennessee out-rebounded the Commodores 48-29. UT has out-worked 22 of 25 opponents on the glass this season and is 21-1 in games in which it wins the battle of the boards.

(Nearly) 1K Rae

Senior Rae Burrell turned in 15 points against Vandy, moving her career points total to 999. She’ll look to become the 47th Lady Vol to surpass the 1K mark on Thursday against Alabama. 


Key Dishing

Junior Tamari Key doled out a career-high five assists against Vanderbilt on Sunday, upping her career-high for the second time in SEC play this season. Her previous high was three assists set against Alabama on December 30th. 

Tennessee-Alabama Series Notes

The Tennessee Lady Vols hold a 52-7 all-time record vs. Alabama, dating back to Jan. 22, 1977.

After the Tide halted a 42-game UT winning streak by claiming five straight from 2016 to 2019, Tennessee has struck back by winning three straight meetings under Kellie Harper.

Against the Crimson Tide, the Lady Vols are 24-1 in games played in Knoxville, 19-3 in Tuscaloosa, and 9-3 at neutral sites.

After Alabama held Tennessee to 65 points or fewer in six straight meetings, the Lady Vols exploded for 82 in Tuscaloosa last season.

Tennessee is 16-2 vs. Alabama in Coleman Coliseum, losing for the first time there on Feb. 16, 2017, 65-57.

From 2011-16, the Crimson Tide women played in Foster Auditorium, where UT was 2-1, including a 54-46 loss on Feb. 25, 2016.

Prior to the 2016 UA victory, the last Alabama win was on March 3rd, 1984, at the SEC Tournament in Athens, GA, by a score of 85-66.

The other came at the 1981 SEC Tournament, as the Tide knocked off #10-ranked Tennessee, 77-71, on January 30th.

Kellie Harper is 4-2 vs. Alabama as a head coach, forging a 1-1 mark vs. the Tide while at NC State, a 0-1 record as Missouri State’s coach, and a 3-0 edge at Tennessee.

Harper (then Kellie Jolly) was 7-0 vs. Alabama as a player at Tennessee.

Alabama director of operations Brian Johnson is a 2016 Tennessee graduate who served as a manager on the Lady Vol staff for four seasons.


About The Alabama Crimson Tide

Alabama is led by the trio of Brittany Davis (16.0 ppg., 7.0 rpg.), Megan Abrams (12.8 ppg.), and JaMya Mingo-Young (11.7 ppg., 6.3 rpg.).

The Crimson Tide squad has three players with 30 or more three-pointers made, including Davis (54), Hannah Barber (48), and Abrams (30).

Bama has three SEC games it has dropped by four or fewer points, including its latest setback on Sunday to Kentucky, 67-63, and previous losses to Georgia and Mississippi State.

About Alabama Head Coach Kristy Curry

Alabama is led by head coach Kristy Curry, who is 145-129 in her ninth season in Tuscaloosa. She is 454-278 overall in her 23rd year.

She guided the Tide to a 17-10 overall record and 8-8 SEC mark in 2020-21, good for seventh place.

Last Time Alabama Played

Alabama dropped a close game to Kentucky, 67-63, on Sunday in Coleman Coliseum. The Crimson Tide fell to a 12-11 (3-9) record on the season, while the Wildcats improved to 10-11 (3-8) in 2021-22.

Megan Abrams led UA in scoring for the ninth time this season, recording 21 points on 7-of-17 shooting from the field and connecting on all six of her attempts at the free-throw line.

JaMya Mingo-Young had the fourth double-double of her career, scoring 16 points, while Brittany Davis tacked on 12.


When UT And UA Last Met

No. 7/9 Tennessee opened SEC play with a 62-44 win over Alabama in Thompson-Boling Arena on December 30th, 2021.

Graduate guard Jordan Walker led UT (12-1, 1-0 SEC) in scoring with 16 points, while junior center Tamari Key turned in a double-double with 13 points and 11 rebounds. Their efforts helped head coach Kellie Harper pick up win No. 50 during her third season at UT.

Brittany Davis was the high scorer for Alabama (9-3, 0-1 SEC) with 12 points, and JaMya Mingo-Young was close behind with 11.

Last Meeting In Tuscaloosa

Senior Rennia Davis poured in 21 points to lead the No. 23/24 Lady Vols to an 82-56 victory over Alabama in Coleman Coliseum on January 17th, 2021.

Rae Burrell, Tamari Key, and Jordan Horston added 17, 15, and 14, respectively, for UT (9-2, 3-1 SEC).

Next Up For UT Lady Vols Basketball

The Tennessee women’s basketball team is back on the road on Sunday, as it faces a 12:00pm CT matinee on ABC at No. 1/1 South Carolina.

ESPN College GameDay will be live in Columbia from Colonial Life Arena from 11:00am to 12:00pm CT.

UT will play its final two contests of the regular season at Thompson-Boling Arena, hosting Mississippi State at 5:30pm CT on February 24th (SECN+) and LSU at 1:00pm CT on February 27th (ESPN2).

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