KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — No. 25/RV Tennessee (9-3, 3-1 SEC) and No. 12/12 Kentucky (11-3, 4-2 SEC) meet Sunday afternoon in a border rivalry game that was originally slated to take place on Jan. 3.
That contest was postponed after the Lady Vols had to pause practices and games because of COVID-19 contact tracing within the program. Sunday’s make-up matinee came about because UK had an open date and UT found itself without an opponent when Vanderbilt opted out of the season. The SEC then waved its wand and checked one postponed game off its list.
This schedule adjustment has resulted in a four-game home stand for the Big Orange, and this marks the second tilt in that stretch with Ole Miss and Florida to come next week.
The Lady Vols come into the match-up on the heels of a nationally-televised barn-burner against No. 3 UConn on Thursday night. Tennessee took a lead into the fourth quarter, fell behind by nine and rallied within two points with just under a minute remaining before falling to the Huskies, 67-61.
The Big Orange women have victories over two top-15 teams, including (then) No. 15/15 Indiana in Bloomington (66-58) on Dec. 17 and (then) No. 13/13 Arkansas (88-73) in Knoxville on Jan. 7. UT’s only setbacks are to No. 3/5 UConn (67-61), No. 22/23 Georgia (67-66) and West Virginia (79-73 in OT).
Kentucky, meanwhile, has righted itself with back-to-back victories over Vanderbilt and Auburn after falling to Texas A&M and South Carolina in consecutive contests. The Wildcats’ only other loss is to (then) No. 24 DePaul (86-82 on Dec. 16).
UT and UK have two common foes. UT beat Arkansas (+15) and Indiana (+8), while UK prevailed over those schools by 11 and four.
THOSE CONNECTIONS, THOUGH
- There will be lots of familiar faces on the sidelines for Sunday’s game, and this will mark the first time a Lady Vol head coach has squared off against a former UT teammate leading another program.
- UT’s Kellie (Jolly) Harper (1995-99) was teammates from 1996-99 at Tennessee with Kentucky head coach Kyra Elzy (1996-2001) and assistant coach Niya Butts (1996-2000). The trio played together on the second and third of UT’s three-consecutive titles in 1996, 1997 and 1998.
- Elzy served a tenure on UT’s staff that included roles as assistant coach and associate head coach from 2012-16.
- This season, Elzy took over at Kentucky following the retirement of former head coach Matthew Mitchell, who was a graduate assistant at UT in 1999-2000.
- UK assistant Amber Smith was a G.A. at Tennessee in 2013-14.
- Wildcat reserve Jazmine Massengill played at Tennessee from 2018-20 before transferring to UK after last season.
- Massengill is one of four Tennessee residents on the 2020-21 Kentucky roster. UT has no residents of the Bluegrass State on this year’s roster, but it has signed one of the top prospects in the state in Brooklynn Miles of Franklin County High School in Frankfort, Ky.
- Tennessee junior Rae Burrell and Kentucky redshirt sophomore Dre’Una Edwards are former teammates and graduates of Liberty High School in Las Vegas, Nev.
- Sunday’s game will be televised by ESPN2 with Courtney Lyle (PxP) and Carolyn Peck (analyst) on the call.
- All of the games included in the ESPN package (ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU) and the SEC Network 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.
- Institutions also can produce for SEC Network+ (SECN+) any conference and non-conference games that are not otherwise televised. Those are available on the ESPN app and SECSports.com.
- The contest also can be heard on Lady Vol Network radio stations, by audio stream and on SiriusXM SEC Channel 374, with Mickey Dearstone behind the microphone. Now calling the action for his 22nd season, Dearstone is 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 in the black bar at the top of the page.
- Air time for games on the Lady Vol Radio Network generally occurs 30 minutes prior to tip-off.
TICKETS AVAILABLE AT ALLVOLS.COM
- Single game tickets are on sale, starting at just $5. Go to AllVols.com to purchase.
QUICK GLANCE AT THE LADY VOLS
- Tennessee has posted two victories over ranked teams (No. 13/13 Arkansas, No. 15/15 Indiana), marking the most by the program in a season since 2017-18 when it had seven.
- Against No. 3/5 UConn, the Lady Vols were in a battle that included 17 lead changes and 12 ties. UT trailed UConn by two, 63-61, with 55 seconds remaining when Paige Bueckers hit a three-pointer as the shot clock expired to help lift the Huskies to a 67-61 win.
- Just a quick reminder that the Lady Vols start a freshman, two sophomores, a junior and senior. They have played together as a quintet for eight total games, with Key and Horston being inserted into the starting lineup for the contest at Indiana. The group has demonstrated improvement with each game.
- In SEC play, four Tennessee players are scoring in double figures.
- UT is led in scoring by junior guard/forward Rae Burrell, who is putting up 16.8 ppg. and shooting 48 percent from the field, 45.1 percent on threes and 80.6 percent from the free-throw line in all games. She averaged 10.5 ppg. and shot 41, 33 and 60 percent, respectively, a year ago in those categories.
- Burrell is averaging 17.0 ppg. and shooting 50.9 percent in SEC games with a 26-point effort vs. Arkansas on Jan. 7 as her top effort.
- Senior Rennia Davis, who is on all of the preseason awards watch lists (Wade, Wooden, Naismith, Cheryl Miller), the Wooden Midseason List and a projected All-SEC First Team pick by the coaches and players, is second in scoring (13.9 ppg.) and is first on the team in boards at 8.3 rpg in all games. In SEC play, she is putting up 17.5 ppg. and 8.5 rpg. to lead UT in both categories.
- Davis has climbed to 19th on UT’s all-time scoring list with 1,567 points and surpassed Cindy Noble (19th, 1,561) vs. UConn. She is five away from Nikki McCray (18th, 1,572), 13 behind Debbie Groover (17th, 1,580) and 30 back of Mercedes Russell (16th, 1,597).
- Sophomore Tamari Key (10.8 ppg./5.0 rpg. in SEC play) has elevated her game as the season has gone on. She has scored in double figures the past four contests (12/14/15/10) and is shooting 65.5 percent vs. league opponents and 69.0 overall. She had a solid 10-point, nine-rebound, three-block effort vs. UConn.
- Sophomore Jordan Horston, an SEC All-Freshman performer a year ago is third on the team in scoring at 8.9 ppg. and is first in assists average (3.9) and steals average (1.7). She has started the past eight games after coming off the bench the first four, tallying double figures in four of UT’s past five games with season bests of 14 points and seven assists vs. Alabama.
- Horston’s numbers in SEC play this season include 11.8 ppg., 4.8 rpg., 4.3 apg. and 1.5 spg. She is shooting 47.5 percent from the field and 85.7 at the line.
- Freshman guard/forward Marta Suárez, joining Burrell and Davis as UT’s only starters in every game this season, is second on the Lady Vols in rebound average (5.8) and is fifth in scoring at 6.4 ppg. after tallying 10 points and six boards vs. UConn.
- Reserve senior center Kasiyahna Kushkituah (5.8 ppg., 4.5 rpg.) and redshirt junior guard Jordan Walker (5.7 ppg., 3.7 rpg., 2.5 apg.) continue to be consistent contributors off the bench. Freshman Destiny Salary (2.9 ppg., 3.4 rpg., 1.2 apg.) also is supplying quality minutes at the guard position.
RECAPPING UT’S LAST GAME
- 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 Thursday night.
- 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.
THE NCAA’S LARGEST CROWD
- An NCAA women’s basketball season-high crowd of 3,553 turned out to cheer the No. 25/RV Lady Vols on vs. No. 3/5 UConn.
- That mark surpassed the 3,500 that South Carolina has drawn to six contests this season.
- The Thursday night showdown between UT and UConn was the first match-up between the teams in Knoxville since 2006, when an NCAA regular-season record throng of 24,653 packed Thompson-Boling Arena and saw No. 1 UT prevail, 89-80, over the the No. 7 Huskies.
- UK is led by three players scoring in double figures, including 2019-20 SEC Player of the Year Rhyne Howard (19.8 ppg., 16.9), Chasity Patterson (12.9 ppg.) and Dre’Una Edwards (12.6 ppg.).
- Lady Vol alum (teammate of UT’s Kellie [Jolly]Harper) Kyra Elzy is in her first season as head coach of the Cats.
- Elzy, who was an assistant coach at UT from 2012-16, is joined by another UT teammate of hers and Harper’s, Niya Butts, and former UT graduate assistant and now UK assistant Amber Smith.
- Former Lady Vol Jazmine Massengill transferred to Kentucky in the offseason and is a reserve.
RECAPPING KENTUCKY’S LAST GAME
- Junior Blair Green scored 18 points, as 12th-ranked Kentucky won at Auburn, 76-71, Thursday night.
- Green, who set a new career high with 22 points on Sunday, continued her strong play on Thursday, hitting seven of nine from the field, including two of three from behind the arc.
- UK All-American Rhyne Howard had 14 points, five rebounds, four assists, two steals and a blocked shot in the game. Robyn Benton and Dre’una Edwards each had 10 points for the Cats.
UT-KENTUCKY SERIES NOTES
- This marks the 70th edition of UT vs. UK, with the Lady Vols leading the series, 55-14.
- UT has faced only two other teams as many times as the Wildcats – Vanderbilt in 84 meetings and Georgia in 70 games.
- The Lady Vols have won six of the last 10 games in the series, but Kentucky brings a three-game winning streak to The Summitt.
- The Lady Vols own a 24-4 mark against UK in games played in Knoxville, with the Wildcats winning on Rocky Top in 1983, 1985, 2014 and 2019.
- Tennessee is 21-9 vs. UK in Lexington and 10-1 at neutral sites. The Lady Vols are 9-1 in postseason tournament games.
- Tennessee is 20-7 all-time at Memorial Coliseum and 1-2 in Rupp Arena. where the teams will meet on Feb. 11.
- UT is 3-1 in overtime games vs. Kentucky, including 3-0 in Lexington and 0-1 in Knoxville, with the last OT contest coming in 1994.
- Since Feb. 16, 2014, a four-point Tennessee win in Knoxville, six of the past 11 meetings have been decided by four or fewer points.
THE LAST TIME THESE TEAMS MET
- Freshman Jordan Horston poured in a career-high 24 points, but it wasn’t enough to fend off a hot-handed #16/18 Kentucky team that shot 51 percent from the floor to seize an 86-65 victory in a No. 3 seed vs. No. 6 seed match-up in the SEC Tournament Third Round on March 6, 2020.
- Junior Rennia Davis and senior Lou Brown were also in double figures for Tennessee (21-10), posting 14 and 10 points, respectively.
- Kentucky (22-7) was led by Rhyne Howard who finished with 24 points, Tatyana Wyatt with 14 and Sabrina Haines with 12.
- The game ended up being UT’s finale, as the NCAA Tournament was canceled shortly afterward.
THE LAST TIME IN KNOXVILLE
- The No. 13-ranked Tennessee Lady Vols fell, 73-71, to the 16th-ranked Kentucky Wildcats on Jan. 10, 2019, the last time these teams played at Thompson-Boling Arena.
- The Lady Vols (12-3, 1-2 SEC) trailed by two points after a pair of free throws from Meme Jackson with one minute remaining, but a three-pointer from Wildcats guard Jaida Roper put the game out of reach for the Big Orange.
- Tennessee continues its four-game home stand with a Thursday night contest vs. a much-improved Ole Miss squad. The Lady Vols face off vs. the Rebels at 7 p.m. ET in Thompson-Boling Arena (SECN+).
- Kentucky will be in Tuscaloosa on Thursday evening to face Alabama at 6:30 p.m. CT (SEC Network).