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HomeSports#16 Tennessee Lady Vols Basketball takes on #8 LSU at Thompson-Boling Arena,...

#16 Tennessee Lady Vols Basketball takes on #8 LSU at Thompson-Boling Arena, Sunday

#16 Tennessee (22-6 | 11-4 SEC) vs. #8 LSU (23-4 | 13-2 SEC)
Sunday, February 27th, 2022 | 1:02pm CT
Knoxville, TN | Thompson-Boling Arena

UT Lady VolsKnoxville, TN – No. 16/14 Tennessee Lady Vols Basketball (22-6/11-4 SEC) will play host to No. 8/8 LSU (24-4/12-3 SEC) on Sunday at Thompson-Boling Arena, with tip-off slated for 1:02pm CT.

Senior day festivities and a salute to long-time radio “Voice of the Lady Vols” Mickey Dearstone are scheduled to take place before a game that has major implications involving the upcoming SEC Tournament. The Tigers enter the contest holding on to second place in the league standings, while the Lady Vols are a game back in third place.

Based on the league’s tie-breaker rules, it is believed a UT victory would earn Kellie Harper‘s squad a tie for second place in the SEC and the No. 2 seed for next week’s conference tourney at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville. That development would be a pretty remarkable achievement for Harper, whose team has been impacted severely by injury this season. She has lost three players who were returning starters from a year ago (Jordan Horston, Keyen Green, Marta Suárez) and played through a 12-game stretch without preseason All-SEC First-Team pick Rae Burrell.
 
An LSU win, however, would give Kim Mulkey’s club second place outright, with UT’s ability to earn a top-four finish and double-bye dependent on games involving Florida (vs. Missouri) and Ole Miss (vs. South Carolina).
 
Tennessee and LSU are meeting for the 69th time in series history, with the Lady Vols possessing a 52-16 all-time record, including 23-3 in Knoxville. The Big Orange women bring a nine-game home-court win streak and 14-1 home record into the contest after a 67-percent shooting performance in the second half resulted in an 86-64 UT triumph over Mississippi State on The Summitt Thursday night. LSU enters on a seven-game winning spree and with a 6-2 road mark, holding off Alabama, 58-50, on Thursday night in Baton Rouge.

Saluting Snoop, Keyen, and Rae

Graduates Alexus “Snoop” Dye and Keyen Green, along with senior Rae Burrell, will be honored in Senior Day festivities before Sunday’s game.

Another graduate, Jordan Walker, announced Friday evening her decision to return for the 2022-23 season, taking advantage of the NCAA’s additional year provided to student-athletes whose 2019-20 season was cut short by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dye, a 6-0 forward from Birmingham, AL, transferred to UT from Troy for the 2021-22 season and is one of only three players to start all 28 contests. The Katrina McClain Watch List Top 10 candidate is averaging 8.9 points and 7.2 rebounds per game, scoring in double figures 12 times and registering three double-doubles.

Green, a 6-1 forward/center from Philadelphia, came to Rocky Top from Liberty and has endured two season-ending injuries as a Lady Vol. She played 42 games in two years, starting and playing only four last season, and has averaged 7.0 points and 3.2 rebounds while shooting 55 percent from the field as a Lady Vol. The Ph.D. candidate is cited by her teammates as an outstanding leader, on the court and off.

Burrell, a 6-1 guard/forward from Las Vegas, NV, is the sole four-year UT player being honored. She has averaged 10.0 points and 4.1 rebounds in 104 contests with 41 starts prior to today. She put up 16.8 ppg. and 4.6 rpg. starting all 25 games to earn All-SEC Second Team honors in 2020-21. After missing 12 games this season due to an injury in the opener, she has increased her production to 11.0 ppg. and 3.3 rpg., scoring in double figures 10 times, including the past six and in 10 of the last 12 contests.

All three players surpassed 1,000 points during their careers, with two of them pulling down more than 700 rebounds.
 
Burrell became the 47th UT woman to score 1,000-plus career points during her four years playing for the Lady Vols.
 
Dye surpassed 1,000 points and 800 rebounds during a combined career at Troy and Tennessee.
 
Green had more than 1,300 points and 700 rebounds during a combined career at Liberty and Tennessee.

Broadcast Information

Courtney Lyle (play-by-play) and Carolyn Peck (analyst) will have the call for the ESPN2 telecast.

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 for his final regular-season home game. 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.


Game Promotions

Free long-sleeve shirts to the first 1,000 fans.

Get the “4 for 44” special, with four tickets and four concession vouchers for $44.  

Pregame Senior Day salute to Alexus, Keyen, and Rae.

Pregame recognition for Voice of the Lady Vols Mickey Dearstone.

Free parking and 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.

No Place Like Home

UT is outscoring opponents 76.3 to 57.1 (+19.1) at home this season and outshooting them from the field 43.3 to 32.3.

Tennessee is out-rebounding foes 51.5 to 33.9 (+17.6).

The Lady Vols block 6.7 shots per game at home, and Tamari Key swats 4.4 per contest on The Summitt.

UT has a 1.1 assist-to-turnover ratio in Knoxville, dishing out 270 dimes vs. 236 miscues over 15 contests thus far.

Jordan Walker leads the way with 59 assists while committing only 28 turnovers in home contests and tops UT in steals with 16.

Rae Burrell is 14 of 15 (93.3) on free throws at home.

Alexus Dye is averaging 10.1 ppg. and 7.3 rpg. while shooting 47.2 from the field at T-BA.


Key Quickly Piling Up Record Numbers

Tennessee’s Tamari Key has recorded 105 blocks this season and has pushed her career total to 263.

Her season total of 105 ranks No. 2 in school history, just eight behind Kelley Cain’s 113 in 2009-10, and ties her for No. 9 on the SEC’s all-time single-season list with A’ja Wilson of South Carolina (2017-18), Heidi Gillingham of Vanderbilt (1992-93) and Heidi Olsen of LSU (1982-83).

On up the list are 8. Angela Gorsica, Vanderbilt (106, 1994-95), 7. Marita Payne, Auburn (107, 2005-06) and Vanessa Hayden, Florida (107, 2002-03), 5. Kelley Cain, Tennessee (113, 2009-10), 4. Angela Gorsica, Vanderbilt (118, 1996-97), 3. Vanessa Hayden, Florida (126, 2001-02), 2. Heidi Gillingham, Vanderbilt (131, 1991-92) and 1. Marita Payne, Auburn (141, 2004-05).

It took Cain 33 games to get to 113, and Key has needed only 28 to accumulate 105.

Key’s career total of 263 leaves her 12 behind UT record-holder Candace Parker (275, 2005-08).

Parker’s tally of 275 covered 110 games, while Key has amassed 263 in only 84 contests.

Key has record seven marks in UT’s single-game top, including four this season. She is No. 2 (11 vs. Texas A&M, 1-6-22), No. 3 (10 at South Carolina, 2-20-22 / 10 vs. Texas, 11-21-20 / 10 vs. Florida, 1-31-21), No. 6 (9 at South Carolina, 2-2-20) and No. 9 (7 vs. Missouri, 2-10-22 / 7 vs. Kentucky, 3-6-20).

In the SEC record book, Key’s 11 blocks vs. Texas A&M this season rank third all-time, while her three 10-block efforts tie for the fourth-most by a league player.


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 4-5 since then.

The Tennessee Lady Vols were +17.1 (71.5-54.5) in scoring margin with Green and are -2.8 (70.2-67.4) without her available.

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 nine games (including +80 twice). UT is 21-1 when it holds teams to 70 points or fewer this season, holding No. 1/1 South Carolina to 67 but scoring only 53 of its own.

UT was +16.1 (50.4 to 34.3) in rebound margin before her injury and is +8.4 (44.6 to 36.1) after.

Tennessee was shooting 42.4 percent with her and is hitting 39.9 percent with her sidelined.

About the UT 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 and are within one win of earning a tie for a runner-up finish and the No. 2 seed for the SEC Tournament.

Kellie Harper most certainly deserves to be in the conversation for SEC Coach of the Year if UT manages to pull that off.

The most recent misfortune occurred with 1:45 remaining in UT’s contest at Alabama on February 17th, when national awards candidate and statistical load-bearer Jordan Horston suffered a fractured dislocation of her left arm while diving for a loose ball.

Horston became the third front-line Tennessee player to suffer a serious injury and the fourth to miss an extended period of action in a season that stood at 18-1 after the road victory over Georgia on January 23rd.
 
In the fourth quarter of that contest against UGA, 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, it 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 back-to-back defeats at Alabama and No. 1 South Carolina, followed by a resounding win over an upstart Mississippi State team on February 24th.
 
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 11.0 ppg., 3.3 rpg. stat line is well shy of last season’s 16.8 ppg., 4.6 rpg. productivity, but she is seemingly recapturing her groove with each game.

All of that said, the Lady Vols still stand at 22-6 overall and 110-4 in SEC play as they prepare to close out the regular season with their final contest.

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.

Prior to her injury, Tennessee was led statistically by Jordan Horston, a dynamic 6-2 junior guard, who paced 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 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.

Senior All-SEC First Team preseason pick Rae Burrell (11.0 ppg., 3.3 rpg.) has seen action the past 15 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 10 of the past 12 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 four games, Burrell is producing 13.3 ppg. and 4.3 rpg.

Tamari Key, a 6-6 junior center, is putting up 10.5 ppg. and 8.4 rpg. to go along with 3.8 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 10 double-doubles thus far and has scored in double figures in 15 games for the Lady Vols. She leads the nation in blocked shots (105) and is second in bpg. (3.75), sitting in UT’s single-season top 10 for the third time at No. 2 with 105 swats in 28 contests. She trails school record-holder Kelley Cain (113) by only eight. 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.
 
Key tied her scoring career-high with 23 vs. Mississippi State on Thursday night and is averaging 17.7 points and 11.7 rebounds while shooting .710 from the field over the past three games.
 
Alexus Dye, a 6-0 forward, is fourth among UT players in scoring at 8.9 ppg. She is third in rebounding at 7.2 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 12 times, including an 13-point, eight-rebound effort vs. Miss. State.
 
Graduate guard Jordan Walker, who had 11 points vs. South Carolina, is Tennessee’s fifth-highest scorer, putting up 7.7 ppg. while tallying 4.0 rpg. and 3.0 apg. to rank fourth and second for UT in those categories. She is coming off a nine-point, eight-rebound, seven-assist effort vs. Mississippi State.

Freshman guard/forward Sara Puckett is UT’s sixth-leading active scorer. The No. 43 espnW prospect coming out of high school is putting up 6.7 ppg. and is shooting 44.6 percent from the field, 30.9 percent on threes and 69.6 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 42 of 106 attempts (39.6 pct.). Sara Puckett (30.9) and Jordan Walker (29.6) have hit 21 treys each.

Tennessee Notes During SEC Play

Kellie Harper‘s squad is in third place in the SEC standings at 11-4, standing a game behind LSU.

With Jordan Horston’s 16.3 ppg., 9.5 rpg. and 4.0 apg. averages in SEC play now sidelined by injury, Tennessee is led by Tamari Key (10.9 ppg., 8.1 rpg.), Rae Burrell (10.9 ppg., 3.4 rpg.), Jordan Walker (9.2 ppg., 4.3 rpg., 2.9 apg.) and Alexus Dye (8.3 ppg., 6.6 rpg.).

Tennessee is scoring 69.2 ppg. (5th) and allowing 62.1 ppg. (3rd), while shooting 41.7 percent (7th) from the field and holding opponents to only 35.0 percent (2nd) on field goals in SEC contests.


Tennessee is out-rebounding SEC teams 47.3 (2nd) to 36.1 (5th) for a +11.3 margin (2nd).

The Lady Vols have limited SEC foes to shooting only 25.1 percent (2nd) from the three-point arc.

UT is dishing out 14.3 assists per game (2nd).

Key is shooting 58.8 percent from the floor vs. SEC foes (not enough attempts to qualify for rankings, but No. 1) and has blocked 61 shots for a 4.07 blocks per game average to lead the SEC.

Key is second behind Aliyah Boston in offensive rebounds per game at 3.7.

Also worth noting, Tess Darby (6.4 ppg.) is 26 of 52 on threes (50.0) during league play (No. 1 but not enough attempts to make list) and is 12th at 1.86 makes per game.

Alexus Dye (78.3), Jordan Walker (73.7), and Kaiya Wynn (72.7) have been much improved at the charity stripe during league play.

UT is 10-1 in SEC games this season in which it holds opponents to 70 points or fewer.

Recapping The Last Game

An excellent second half on the offensive end, where the Lady Vols scored 56 points, helped the No. 16/14-ranked Tennessee Lady Vols defeat Mississippi State, 86-64, Thursday night at Thompson-Boling Arena. The win was the Big Orange’s ninth in a row at home.

Tennessee (22-6, 11-4 SEC) connected on 24 of 36 (.667) from the field and seven of 10 from beyond the arc in the second half.

The Big Orange got a career-high 17 points from Tess Darby, who was 5-of-6 from deep and 6-of-7 overall. Tamari Key also had a big night with 23 points, matching a career best.


Key was a force in all aspects of the game as she tallied her 10th double-double of the season, adding 15 boards to her point total. She also blocked six Bulldog shots, passing the century mark for swats this season as she entered the day with 99 and finished with 105.

For the game, the Lady Vols fired in 35 of 65 (.538) from the floor and were eight of 15 (.533) on 3-pointers. The Big Orange shot over 50 percent on 3-pointers for the first time this year. 

Graduate student Alexus Dye notched her 1,000th career point in the game, draining a fast-break layup with 6:16 remaining in the third quarter. The veteran forward tallied 13 total points and pulled down eight rebounds.

Jordan Walker also put together a strong game, tying her season-high with eight rebounds and scoring nine points.

Rae Burrell was the fourth Lady Vol to finish in double figures with 11. It was her 11th game this season and 54th of her career notching double-digit points.

Notables From Tennessee’s Last Contest

Key Moves Into SEC Top 10 For Blocks

With her six blocked shots vs. MSU, Tamari Key pushed her season total to 105, leaving her eight shy of the school record of 113 set by Kelley Cain in 2009-10 and moving her into a tie for ninth place on the SEC’s all-time single-season blocks list. Key joins A’ja Wilson of South Carolina (2017-18), Heidi Gillingham of Vanderbilt (1992-93) and Heidi Olsen of LSU (1982-83).

First Quarter Lockdown

Tennessee limited MSU to seven first-quarter points, the fewest UT has surrendered to an SEC opponent in an opening frame this season and second-fewest the Lady Vols allowed to any team during the 2021-22 campaign. It ties for the fewest first-quarter points scored by Mississippi State all season, having also been limited to seven first-quarter points against #13 Georgia.

Growing The 1K Club

Alexus Dye scored her 1,000th career point against Mississippi State to become the third Lady Vol this season to pass the 1K mark. Jordan Walker was first to join the 1,000-point club, doing so against Texas A&M on January 6th, and Rae Burrell followed against Alabama on January 17th.


Have A Day, Tess

Tess Darby shot a scorching 85.7 percent on the night, knocking down five treys in six attempts en route to a career-high 17 points. 

Balanced Attack

Four Lady Vols were in double figures on the night with Tamari Key (23), Tess Darby (17), Alexus Dye (13) and Rae Burrell (11) all managing 10 or more points. It is the fourth time Tennessee has had four or more players score 10+ points in SEC play this season. Additionally, nine of 10 active UT players contributed at least two points to the win over MSU. 

Dishing Them Out

Tennessee hit 35 field goals vs. the Bulldogs, with 27 of them coming via assists. That total of 27 dimes was the second-best of the season behind the 30 they dished vs. Chattanooga. Jordan Walker led the Lady Vols with an SEC-high seven.

UT-LSU Series Notes

UT enters the 69th meeting in the series with a 52-16 edge, including a 23-3 record in Knoxville, 16-9 slate in Baton Rouge, and a 13-4 mark at neutral sites.

Tennessee has won 15 of the last 20 games between these teams, including four of the past five.

The Lady Vols are 1-1 vs. LSU in overtime games. The last time the two teams went to OT was on March 1, 1997. Tennessee won the game 100-99 to advance to the semifinals of the SEC Tournament.

At least one team has been ranked in this series in 65 of the 68 games that have been played. The only time that didn’t happen was in 2018-19 (twice) and last season.

Kellie Harper is 2-2 overall vs. LSU and 2-1 vs. the Tigers while the head coach at Tennessee.
 
Harper is 0-1 in head-to-head match-ups with Kim Mulkey, dropping a contest to Baylor on November 23rd, 2017, when she was head coach at Missouri State.
 
Kelley Cain set Tennessee’s single-game record and the Thompson-Boling Arena best for blocked shots with 12 swats vs. LSU on February 22nd, 2010.

About the LSU Tigers

The Tigers are led in scoring by the trio of Khayla Pointer (19.0 ppg.), Alexis Morris (15.8 ppg.) and Faustine Aifuwa (10.1 ppg.).

All three are better in SEC play, putting up 20.5, 17.3 and 10.9, respectively.

Pointer and Morris lead LSU in three-pointers, hitting 42 and 30, respectively, on the season.

About LSU Head Coach Kim Mulkey

LSU is directed by Kim Mulkey, who is 24-4 this season in her first year in Baton Rouge and 656-108 all-time.

Mulkey was 632-104 in 21 seasons at Baylor before making the move, leading the Lady Bears to four Final Fours and winning three national titles.

At Baylor, Mulkey’s teams won a combined 23 Big 12 regular-season and tournament titles.

Last Time The Tigers Played

No. 8 LSU (24-4, 12-3 SEC) shored up at least a share of second place in the SEC with a 58-50 win vs. Alabama (14-12, 5-10 SEC) Thursday night in the Tigers’ regular-season home finale.

Faustine Aifuwa, Jailin Cherry, Khayla Pointer, Autumn Newby and Awa Trasi all played their final regular-season home game inside the PMAC as LSU celebrated senior night.


Pointer scored 23 and added nine rebounds and eight assists as she moved into the No. 2 spot on LSU career assists list. Aifuwa scored 12 and had three blocks, playing dominantly in the low post.

Megan Abrams led Alabama with 16 points and Brittany Davis grabbed a game-high 11 rebounds. LSU limited Alabama to 34-percent shooting and outscored the Crimson Tide, 36-12 in the paint.

When UT And LSU Last Met

The Lady Vols held off a scrappy LSU squad in a back-and-forth affair on the road on Jan. 10, 2021, winning 64-63 in Baton Rouge.

It was Tennessee’s first win in Baton Rouge in its last four trips, and Kellie Harper picked up her first career victory in the venue as a head coach and former Lady Vol player.

Junior Rae Burrell led Tennessee (8-1, 2-0 SEC), finishing with 18 points and three rebounds. Sophomore Tamari Key turned in a season-high 12 points and six rebounds, and sophomore Jordan Horston added 11 points.

LSU (4-6, 2-2 SEC) was paced by senior Khayla Pointer with 25 points and Tiara Young with 11.


Next Up For UT Lady Vols Basketball

The Tennessee women’s basketball team will begin postseason play next week, heading to Nashville for the SEC Tournament, March 2nd-6th, at Bridgestone Arena.

The UT Lady Vols will begin play on Thursday or Friday, pending the outcome of Sunday’s match-up with LSU and/or games featuring Florida and Missouri as well as Ole Miss and South Carolina.

The bracket will be released Sunday evening.

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