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HomeSportsTennessee Lady Vols Basketball faces rival #5 UConn at Thompson-Bowling Arena, Thursday

Tennessee Lady Vols Basketball faces rival #5 UConn at Thompson-Bowling Arena, Thursday

Tennessee (16-6 | 8-0 SEC) vs. #5 UConn (18-2 | 11-0 Big East)
Thursday, January 26th, 2023 | 7:03pm CT / 8:03pm ET
Knoxville, TN | Thompson-Boling Arena | TV: ESPN

UT Lady VolsKnoxville, TN – The Tennessee Lady Vols basketball team (16-6, 8-0 SEC), which is receiving votes in both major polls this week, steps outside conference play to meet old rival #5/4 UConn (18-2, 11-0 BIG EAST) on Thursday at 7:03pm CT inside Thompson-Boling Arena in Knoxville.

UT and UConn will meet for the 26th time in a series that dates back to 1995, with the Huskies holding a 16-9 advantage and winning the past three meetings between the programs since the series resumed in 2020 after a 13-year hiatus.

Kellie Harper‘s squad enters on a nine-game winning streak and has been victorious in 14 of its past 16 contests, with its only two losses coming vs. (then) No. 9/9 Virginia Tech (59-56) on December 4th and at No. 2/2 Stanford on December 18th (77-70). A UT win vs. UConn would make for the longest winning streak by the Lady Vols since a 15-game string from November 12th, 2017, to January 11th, 2018. It also would be the longest win spree of the Kellie Harper era, supplanting a pair of nine-game runs a year ago.

Through eight games in league play, UT remains tied atop the SEC standings along with No. 1/1 South Carolina and No. 4/3 LSU at 8-0. It is the Lady Vols’ best conference start since they went 13-0 in 2014-15 en route to a 15-1 league record and regular-season title.

With Jordan Horston out sick on Sunday in Columbia, Tennessee managed to remain perfect in SEC play by getting a layup from Jordan Walker, a three-pointer from Sara Puckett and a turn-around  jumper “and-1” from Rickea Jackson over the final minute to secure a 68-65 victory. Jackson’s bucket and free throw came with a second remaining.

Despite a season plagued with injuries, UConn rolls in to Rocky Top on an 11-game winning streak, with its only losses on the year coming at home to #7/7 Notre Dame (74-60) on December 4th and at #20/21 Maryland (85-78) on December 11th. The Huskies had no trouble at home with DePaul on Monday night, crushing the Blue Demons, 94-51, with four players scoring in double figures.

The only common foe on the teams’ schedules is South Carolina, which UConn hosts on February 5th and Tennessee welcomes to T-BA on February 23rd.

We Back Pat Week

The 12th 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 is set for January 19th-26th.

SEC member institutions will support The Pat Summitt Foundation during their home basketball games. During the women’s games slated for the week, various efforts will be made to increase awareness of The Pat Summitt Foundation.
The Lady Vols wore their “We Back Pat” edition uniforms for the Florida game at home (UT’s “We Back Pat” Game) and the Missouri contest on the road. They’ll wear their traditional home whites vs. UConn but will be donning their “We Back Pat” shooting shirts.

Broadcast Information

Thursday night’s game will be televised on ESPN, with Ryan Ruocco (PxP), Rebecca Lobo (Analyst) and Holly Rowe (Reporter) on the call.

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 stations and by audio stream, with Brian Rice on the call and Andy Brock serving as studio host. 

A link to the live audio stream can be found on the Hoops Central page or the 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 the Vol Network Affiliates tab.

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

The Lady Vol Network broadcast also can be heard frequently on satellite radio via SiriusXM and the SXM App. but will not be available this game.

UT Lady Vols’ Third Gameday Appearance 

ESPN’s College GameDay Covered by State Farm® is in Knoxville for the first of three women’s college basketball shows this season. The one-hour program will air at 6:00pm CT on ESPN, preceding the storied rivalry of No. 5 UConn and Tennessee that tips at 7:00pm CT.

Elle Duncan will host the show from inside Thompson-Boling Arena, alongside commentators Andraya Carter, Rebecca Lobo, Carolyn Peck, and Holly Rowe. Lobo and Rowe will join play-by-play voice Ryan Ruocco on the call for the game. Carter played for the Lady Vols from 2012-16, Lobo starred at UConn from 1991-95 and Peck was an assistant coach under Summitt from 1993-95.

This will mark the third consecutive time Tennessee has been involved in the four occasions where ESPN’s College GameDay has been on site for a women’s basketball game and the second time the show has visited The Summitt for a Lady Vol contest. Both of those occurrences are the most of any school.

On February 20th, 2022, College GameDay visited Columbia, SC, as South Carolina hosted the Big Orange. The previous visit to a campus for women’s hoops came on January 15th, 2011, when Rocky Top was the site for GameDay as Tennessee hosted Vanderbilt on a day in which the Vols and Lady Vols played at noon and 8:00pm, respectively.

It marked the first men’s and women’s doubleheader show for the network. The year before, ESPN was on hand for the Notre Dame at UConn game in Storrs, Conn., for the inaugural women’s GameDay on January 16th, 2010.

Vols To Host Gameday On Saturday

ESPN announced that College GameDay Covered by State Farm® will originate live from Thompson-Boling Arena Saturday in advance of Tennessee’s sold-out SEC/Big 12 Challenge men’s hoops clash with Texas.

Tennessee is the only school to have hosted ESPN College GameDay for football, men’s basketball and women’s basketball.

It also is the only one to host in all three sports during the same school year.

Unranked Lady Vols vs. Ranked Teams

Tennessee is 15-16 all-time as an unranked team playing against a ranked squad, dating back to 1976-77 when polls began, including 7-7 vs. top-10 teams and 2-5 vs. top-five squads through the Dec. 18 contest at No. 2/2 Stanford (L, 77-70).

UT’s highest-ranked win as an unranked team came on Feb. 26, 2017, as a Big Orange squad receiving votes took down No. 3/2 Mississippi St. in Starkville, 82-64.

Jaime Nared (30), Diamond DeShields (20) and Jordan Reynolds (17) combined for 67 points to send a sellout crowd of 10,500 at Humphrey Coliseum home unhappy on Senior Day and prevent the Bulldogs from earning a share of their first SEC women’s hoops title.

Kellie Harper is 3-4 as head coach of Tennessee playing while unranked and facing a ranked squad, including 0-2 vs. top-five teams. Her teams fell to No. 1/1 Notre Dame (1/24/19) and No. 2/2 Stanford

She went 1-2 in 2019-20 and 2-0 in 2020-21, with No. 13/13 Arkansas (1/7/21, 88-73, Knoxville) the highest-ranked outfit her Lady Vols have beaten while outside the poll. She is 0-2 in that role in 2022-23.

Harper History vs. UConn

Kellie Harper is 0-3 vs. UConn as a head coach, but she was 4-1 vs. the Huskies in games played as a UT Lady Vol.

Those scores as a player were 53-59 in Knoxville on Jan. 6, 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.

The Lady Vol point guard did not play in a Jan. 5, 1997, loss at UConn due to a torn ACL suffered in a pick-up game on Oct. 6. Amazingly, though, she rehabbed and returned to action on Jan. 12 vs. Kentucky and played the rest of the season, including a second meeting vs. the Huskies.

Harper (then Jolly) had 19 points and three assists vs. UConn in that contest, which was a victory in the 1997 Midwest Regional Final in Iowa City that sent her team to the Final Four and ultimately an NCAA championship in Cincinnati.

Looking Back At The Missouri Game

Tennessee used an 8-0 run over the last minute to erase a five-point deficit and seize a 68-65 win over Missouri on Sunday afternoon at Mizzou Arena, keeping its conference record perfect at 8-0 and winning its ninth-straight game.

The 8-0 record in league play is UT’s best start to the SEC schedule since the Lady Vols opened at 13-0 in 2014-15 en route to a 15-1 league record and regular-season title.

Sophomore Sara Puckett was 7-of-9 on the day in Mizzou Arena and went a perfect 3-for-3 from behind the arc, hitting a game-tying trey with 39.1 seconds on the clock to finish with a season-high 17 points for Tennessee (16-6, 8-0 SEC). Senior Rickea Jackson was also in double figures with 15 on the day, pushing her team ahead with 1.1 seconds left by scoring inside, drawing a foul and sinking the free throw for the final margin.

Missouri (14-6, 3-4 SEC) was led by Hayley Frank, who posted a game-high 26 points and Jayla Kelly who finished with 14.

1K For Franklin

With 2:17 left in the game against Missouri, Jasmine Franklin pulled down an offensive rebound to bring her career total to 1,000. 

She closed out the day with four rebounds, moving her total to 1,001.

Cleaning Up The Paint

After being out-rebounded on the offensive glass 8-2 by Mizzou and giving up 10 second-chance points in the first half, the Lady Vols flipped the script, winning the offensive rebounding battle 8-2 in the second half without giving up a single second-chance point.  

A Look At The Huskies

UConn has four active players averaging double figures in points, including forward Aaliyah Edwards (17.2), wing Lou Lopez Sénéchal (16.9), forward Dorka Juhász (14.8), and guard Aubrey Griffin (13.6).  

Leading scorer Azzi Fudd (17.9) is out with an injury.

Juhász (10.5) and Edwards (9.4) are dominant on the glass for the Huskies.

Sénéchal has hit 51 threes, shooting 49 percent.

UConn ranks No. 1 nationally in FG pct. (52.3) and asst. per game (21.1), No. 4 in reb. margin (13.6) and scoring margin (23.2), No. 6 in 3FG pct. (39.8) and No. 10 in FG pct. defense (34.5).

UConn’s Last Game

Aaliyah Edwards, a 6-3 junior, had 23 points and 10 rebounds, leading No. 5 UConn to its 11th straight win, a 94-51 home rout over DePaul on Monday night.

Lou Lopez Sénéchal scored 20 points and Dorka Juhász had 19 for the Huskies (18-2, 11-0 Big East), who remained undefeated in conference play. Aubrey Griffin registered her fourth double-double of the season, scoring 18 points and grabbing 11 rebounds.

The Huskies outscored DePaul 58-18 in the paint and outrebounded the Blue Demons 59-32.

Tennessee/UConn Notes

UT is 7-11 vs. the Huskies during the regular season and 2-5 during the postseason.

The Lady Vols are 4-6 on the road, 3-5 at home and 2-5 at neutral sites vs. the Huskies.

The Lady Vols are 2-5 in games played in Hartford and 2-1 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.

Last Meeting Between UT, UConn

Jordan Horston scored a game-high 26 points, but No. 7/7 Tennessee came up short vs. No. 10/9 UConn, 75-56, in the XL Center on February 6th, 2022.

UConn (15-4, 9-0 Big East) was led by Azzi Fudd with 25 points, while Aaliyah Edwards had 14.

Last Time In Knoxville

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 restricted-capacity crowd of 3,553 due to the COVID pandemic.

UT (9-3, 3-1 SEC) was led by junior Rae Burrell with 18 points, while Christyn Williams paced UConn (9-0, 7-0 BIG EAST) with 20.

Next Up For UT Women’s Basketball

Tennessee will play its second straight top-five opponent and face its ninth currently-ranked foe when it travels to Baton Rouge to take on #4/3 LSU on Monday, January 30th, at 6:00pm CT (7:00pm ET) on ESPN2.

UT is back home on February 2nd vs. Ole Miss at 5:30pm CT.


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