#12 Tennessee at #1 South Carolina
Sunday, February 20th, 2022 | 12:03pm CT
Columbia, SC | Colonial Life Arena | TV: ABC
Knoxville, TN – It’s been 11 years since ESPN College GameDay has been on site for a women’s basketball game, but that will be the case on Sunday as No. 12/8 Tennessee Lady Vols (21-5/10-3 SEC) and No. 1/1 South Carolina (24-1/12-1 SEC) meet in Columbia.
Tip-off is scheduled for 12:03pm CT at Colonial Life Arena, but the festivities will begin at noon at the venue, as ESPN broadcasts its pregame show live.
This will mark the third-ever edition of College GameDay prior to a women’s game and UT’s second involvement, with UConn hosting in 2010, the Lady Vols in 2011, and now South Carolina while facing the Big Orange in 2022.
Tennessee enters the game having won two of its last three contests, but it is 3-4 since losing graduate forward/center Keyen Green to a season-ending knee injury late in the win at Georgia on January 23rd. UT is 13-1 at home this season, winning its last eight, and started out 6-0 on the road before Green’s injury coincided with the Lady Vols dropping their past four road games to Auburn, Florida, UConn, and Alabama.
The Big Orange trailed 16-14 after the opening quarter before Alabama unleashed a 7-for-11 shooting spree from long range over the second and third periods to take a 20-point lead. UT whittled that deficit down to 10 in the final frame but could not get over the hump in falling 74-64 to the Crimson Tide on a stormy Thursday night in Tuscaloosa.
To make matters worse, UT’s leader in points, rebounds, assists, and steals, Jordan Horston, was helped from the court with 1:45 remaining in the game with a left arm injury that required an air cast to be used. UT’s Kellie Harper will provide an update on Horston during Saturday’s UT media availability.
The Gamecocks, meanwhile, are 13-0 at home in 2021-22 and have won 12 straight since stumbling at Missouri in their SEC opener, 70-69 in overtime, on December 30th. South Carolina is coming off a resounding 75-38 home victory over Auburn on Thursday evening in which the Gamecocks out-rebounded the Tigers, 62-25, with a whopping 24 offensive boards and 21 second-chance points.
This will mark the 62nd meeting between these programs, with Tennessee holding a 51-10 all-time series record and standing an even 4-4 over the last eight games but USC claiming four of the past five tilts. The contest includes two of the 15 late season watch list candidates for the Werner Ladder Naismith Women’s Coach of the Year in Tennessee’s Kellie Harper and South Carolina’s Dawn Staley.
Courtney Lyle (play-by-play), Carolyn Peck (analyst), and Holly Rowe (reporter) will have the call for the ABC television 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.
Where We Stand Nationally
After opening the year ranked No. 15/12, the Lady Vols climbed to No. 4 in the Jan. 24 AP Poll and hit a best of No. 5 in the Jan. 25 USA TODAY/WBCA Coaches Poll. This week, they stand at No. 12 in the AP Poll and No. 8 in the Coaches Poll.
In his Bracketology update on February 18th, ESPN’s Charlie Creme has Tennessee as a No. 4 seed in the Spokane Region. The Lady Vols are shown hosting No. 13 Drexel in the first round, with the winner facing No. 5 Virginia Tech or No. 12 Stephen F. Austin in the second.
ESPN has the Big Orange at No. 12 in its February 13th Women’s College Basketball Power Rankings.
The NCAA NET Rankings show UT ranked No. 19 through February 17th, while the NCAA Toughest Schedule report had the Lady Vols at No. 11 (cumulative opposition).
RealTimeRPI.com has UT at No. 4 in RPI as of February 17th with a calculation of .6683 and No. 6 in strength of schedule.
About the Tennessee Lady Vols
Tennessee has dealt with way 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 yet another setback.
Less than a month earlier on January 23rd at Georgia, 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 before suffering another defeat at 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 10.8 ppg., 3.1 rpg. stat line is well shy of last season’s 16.8 ppg., 4.6 rpg. productivity, but she is showing some signs of finding a groove.
All of that said, the Lady Vols still stand at 21-5 overall and 10-3 in SEC play as they prepare to close out the regular season with their final three contests.
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 (16.2 ppg.), rebounding (9.4), assists (4.0 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 seven contests.
Senior All-SEC First Team preseason pick Rae Burrell (10.8 ppg., 3.1 rpg.) has seen action the past 13 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 eight of the past 10 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 January 31st. Over her last three games, Burrell is producing 13.0 ppg. and 3.7 rpg. while hitting 90 percent on free throws.
Tamari Key, a 6-6 junior center, is putting up 10.0 ppg. and 8.2 rpg. to go along with 3.4 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 eight double-doubles thus far and has scored in double figures in 13 games for the Lady Vols. She leads the nation in blocked shots (89) and is second in bpg. (3.42), sitting in UT’s single-season top 10 for the third time at No. 5 with 89 swats in 26 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 8.8 ppg. She is third in rebounding at 7.0 rpg and has three double-doubles, including a 13/10 effort vs. Arkansas. 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 7.5 ppg., while tallying 4.0 rpg. and 2.9 apg. to rank fourth and second for UT in those categories. Walker is fourth on the team at 9.1 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 7.0 ppg. and is shooting 47.1 percent from the field, 33.3 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 37 of 100 attempts (37 pct.). Sara Puckett (33.3) and Jordan Walker (29.9) have hit 21 and 20 treys, respectively.
Darby has turned the ball over only five times in nine road games played 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 36.4 percent.
Tamari Key has hit 58.6 percent from the field, and Sara Puckett has made 50.0 percent of her makes in UT’s road games.
Key, who averages 4.3 blocks per game at home is averaging only 2.4 on the road but plays more minutes away (27.5) than she does at home (24.9).
Jordan Walker is eight of 20 on threes (40.0) on the road to lead the Lady Vols.
Jordan Horston is UT’s only double-figure scorer in road games at 15.4 ppg.
It’s Not Easy Being (Without) Green
Tennessee’s loss of Keyen Green has had a ripple effect for the Lady Vols. Her absence is reflected in details even more valuable than the 7.0 ppg., 3.2 rpg. and 55.3-percent field goal shooting she provided off the bench. Her presence made her team stronger and everyone around her better.
UT was 18-1 in games played before it was announced she was lost for the season and is 3-4 since then.
The UT Lady Vols were +17.1 (71.5-54.5) in scoring margin with her and are -4.7 (66.9-71.6) without her.
The Big Orange had given up 70 only twice (70-Texas, 74-Stanford) before she was lost and has surrendered 70 five times in the last seven games (including +80 twice). UT is 20-0 when it holds teams to 70 points or fewer this season.
UT was +16.1 (50.4 to 34.3) in rebound margin before her injury and is +10.6 (44.7 to 34.1) after.
Tennessee was shooting 42.4 percent with her and is hitting 38.9 percent with her sidelined.
Tennessee Notes during SEC Play
Kellie Harper‘s squad is tied for second place in the SEC standings with Florida and LSU, trailing No. 1/1 South Carolina (12-1) by two games at 10-3.
Tennessee is scoring 69.15 ppg. (5th) and allowing 61.54 ppg. (3rd), while shooting 41.4 percent (7th) from the field and holding opponents to only 35.1 percent (2nd) on field goals in SEC contests.
Tennessee is out-rebounding SEC teams 47.8 (1st) to 35.0 (2nd) for a +12.85 margin (2nd).
The Lady Vols have limited SEC foes to shooting only 25.2 percent (2nd) from the three-point arc, including games vs. noted three-ball teams Arkansas (twice), Texas A&M, Missouri, and Florida.
Guard Jordan Horston (16.3 ppg., 9.5 rpg., 4.1 apg., 1.4 spg.) leads the team statistically against league competition, followed by guard/forward Rae Burrell (10.7 ppg., 3.3 rpg.), center Tamari Key (10.1 ppg., 7.6 rpg., 3.5 bpg., 58.9 FG percentage), guard Jordan Walker (9.1 ppg., 4.2 rpg., 2.7 apg.) and forward Alexus Dye (8.1 ppg., 6.2 rpg.).
Horston is the third-leading rebounder in league play (9.50), is number six in assists per game (4.08) and No. 11 in scoring (16.25).
Key is shooting 58.9 percent from the floor vs. SEC foes (not enough attempts to qualify for rankings) and has blocked 45 shots already for a 3.46 blocks per game average to lead the SEC.
Also worth noting, Tess Darby (5.6 ppg.) is 21 of 46 on threes (45.7) during league play, while Jordan Horston is 12 of 34 (35.3), Rae Burrell is 12 of 37 (32.4) and Jordan Walker is nine of 30 (30.0).
UT is 9-0 in SEC games this season in which it holds opponents to 70 points or fewer.
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).
UT is 9-0 in SEC games this season in which it holds opponents to 70 points or fewer.
Tennessee Lady Vols Last Game
The No. 12/8 Tennessee Lady Vols ran into a hot-handed Alabama team on Thursday, falling 74-64 to a Crimson Tide squad that hit 10 threes and shot 45.5 percent on the night.
Megan Abrams was the high scorer for UA (12-12, 4-9 SEC) with 27, and Brittany Davis turned in 23.
Notables From UT Lady Vols’ Last Game
Rae Crosses 1k
Senior Rae Burrell entered Thursday’s contest needing just one point to hit 1,000 career points. With 13 against the Crimson Tide, she became just the 47th Lady Vol to reach the 1K milestone.
TK Back On Top
Tamari Key turned in a season-high 20 points and 11 rebounds at Alabama, leading Tennessee in scoring for the first time since dropping 17 on Arkansas on Jan 2. It also marked her eighth double-double of the season and first since the SEC opener against Alabama on December 30th.
UT-USC Series Notes
UT enters Sunday’s contest with a 51-10 advantage in the series, including 21-3 in Columbia, 23-3 in Knoxville, and 7-4 at neutral sites.
Tennessee is 5-4 vs. USC during the postseason and is 1-0 in overtime, taking a 79-73 extra-frame decision over the Gamecocks in the Palmetto State on February 15th, 1996. UT is 3-3 vs. USC in the SEC Tourney.
South Carolina has won four of the past five meetings after a three-game run by Tennessee during the 2016-17 and 2017-18 seasons.
Tennessee captured the regular-season meeting a year ago, coming from 16-down and erasing a 15-point third-quarter deficit en route to toppling the No. 2/3 Gamecocks in Knoxville, 75-67, on Feb. 18.
Kellie Harper has a 2-5 record vs. South Carolina as a head coach. She stands 1-2 while at UT, winning at home in the regular season and falling in the SEC Tournament in 2021.
She was 0-1 while at Western Carolina, and 1-2 while at NC State, beating the Gamecocks, 55-53, in Raleigh on Dec. 4, 2011.
In the other two contests, both on the road, NC State suffered a 74-71 setback on Dec. 13, 2009, and a 77-63 loss on December 12th, 2010.
Since 2010, USC has won five and UT four SEC regular-season titles, with UT winning or sharing in 2010, 2011, 2013 and 2015 and USC doing so in 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2020.
After defeating South Carolina, the regular season SEC champs at 14-2, the 13-3 Lady Vols went on to claim the 2014 SEC Tournament title in Duluth, GA.
About The South Carolina Gamecocks
The South Carolina Gamecocks are led by Aliyah Boston (16.8 ppg., 11.9 rpg.), Zia Cooke (11.8 ppg.) and Destanni Henderson (11.0 ppg.).
South Carolina is winning games by a +20.4 margin, including +19.8 vs. SEC opponents.
USC is the NCAA leader in rebound margin (+14.6), blocked shots (148) and blocks per game (5.7).
About South Carolina Head Coach Dawn Staley
USC is directed by Dawn Staley, who is 355-104 in her 14th season in Columbia and 527-184 overall in her 22nd year as a head coach.
She led the Gamecocks to the 2017 NCAA title and has taken USC to three NCAA Final Fours in the last six tournaments (2015, 2017, 2021).
Staley guided the USA Women’s National Team to Olympic gold at the 2020 Tokyo Games.
Last time South Carolina Played
Aliyah Boston had 10 points and 12 rebounds for her 18th straight double-double, Zia Cooke scored 20 points and No. 1 South Carolina won its 12th straight with a 75-37 victory over Auburn on Thursday night.
Boston moved within a game of the Southeastern Conference mark of 19 straight games with double-figure points and rebounds that was set in 2006 by LSU great Sylvia Fowles.
South Carolina (24-1, 12-1 SEC) took a 10-point lead in the first eight minutes, and Auburn (9-15, 1-12) could not catch up. The Gamecocks won their 12th straight in the series.
When UT And USC Last Met
No. #14/16 Tennessee, the No. 3 seed, outscored second-seeded #7/7 South Carolina 13-8 in the fourth quarter, but it couldn’t overcome a 29-point first quarter by the No. 2 seed Gamecocks in falling 67-52 in the semifinals of the SEC Tournament at Bon Secours Wellness Arena in Greenville, SC, on March 6th, 2021.
Redshirt-junior Jordan Walker and sophomore Jordan Horston were the high scorers for UT (16-7), each finishing with 11 points. Senior Rennia Davis and sophomore Tamari Key were the top rebounders for the Big Orange, grabbing six apiece.
South Carolina (21-4) was paced by Zia Cooke, who had a game-high 17 points and four rebounds. Aliyah Boston was close behind, posting a double-double with 15 points and 11 rebounds, and Destanni Henderson put up 13 points.
Next Up For UT Lady Vols Basketball
The Tennessee Women’s basketball team will play its final two contests of the regular season at Thompson-Boling Arena next week.
The UT Lady Vols will play host to Mississippi State on Thursday at 5:30pm ET (SECN+).
Tennessee then welcomes LSU to town for a Senior Day matinee at 1:00pm CT next Sunday (ESPN2/NetFlex).