Hoops Preview: Lady Vols vs. #9/9 Virginia Tech

RV/RV Tennessee (4-4) welcomes No. 9/9 Virginia Tech (7-0) to Thompson-Boling Arena on Sunday at 1:05 p.m. ET for the Jimmy V Women’s Classic.

The contest marks the Lady Vols’ third of a six-game home stand and a stretch of nine out of 11 on The Summitt between Nov. 25 and Jan. 5. Coach Kellie Harper‘s squad is off to a 2-0 start during that stretch on Rocky Top and improved to 3-1 at home this season with dominant wins over Colorado (69-51) and Eastern Kentucky (105-71) last Friday and Sunday.  VT remained unbeaten on Thursday night, handling Nebraska easily, 85-54, in Blacksburg. 

The Hokies will represent the third top-10 team in the current AP Poll that UT has met this season, preceded by contests vs. No. 4 Ohio State and No. 5 Indiana. All told, the Hokies are the fifth team in the current AP Top 25 UT has played in nine games, with No. 15 UCLA and No. 23 Gonzaga counting as the other two. The Big Orange women also are slated to meet No. 1 South Carolina, No. 2 Stanford and No. 3 UConn later in the year, as well as No. 11 LSU.

UT and Virginia Tech are meeting for the 11th occasion and the second straight year, with the Lady Vols owning an 8-2 advantage in all-time match-ups. Last season, on Dec. 5, No. 11/10 Tennessee claimed a 64-58 victory over the RV/RV Hokies in Blacksburg to end a two-game series skid.

Following the UT-VT showdown, the arena will clear and the Tennessee men and Alcorn State will hit The Summitt to face off in an SECN+ streamed contest at 6 p.m. Fans must have tickets to each game to attend both.

About The Jimmy V Classic

  • The Jimmy V Classic, named for legendary NC State men’s basketball coach Jim Valvano, annually raises money and awareness for the V Foundation for Cancer Research.
  • The men’s classic began in 1995 and is in its 28th year – 19th at Madison Square Garden. The women’s event debuted in 2002.
  • Both events are part of ESPN’s V Week initiative, which utilizes platforms to talk to sports fans about the importance of cancer research. To date, ESPN has helped raise more than $155 million dollars for the V Foundation. In 2021, V Week raised $13.35 million, surpassing the previous high of $8.8 million in 2019.

Game Promotions

  • In addition to the Tennessee-Va. Tech contest being part of the Jimmy V Women’s Classic, Sunday is Knox County School Day. 
  • Fans who donate two new school supplies will receive one complimentary ticket. 
  • All donations benefit the Knox County School Supply, supporting local teachers and education.
  • Other tickets are available at AllVols.com.

Broadcast Information

  • ESPN2 will televise the Tennessee vs. Virginia Tech contest, with Courtney Lyle (PxP), Carolyn Peck (Analyst) and Tamika Catchings (Analyst) 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 radio stations and by audio stream, with Voice of the Lady Vols Brian Rice on the call and Andy Brock serving as studio host.  
  • 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 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 on satellite radio via SiriusXM channels 135 and 190, and via channel 961 on the SXM App.

Lady Vol Trending Topics

  • Rickea Jackson and Jordan Horston have both scored in double figures the past five games, with Jackson hitting for 10+ in every game but the first and Horston having done so in each game she played except for the UMass content in which she was knocked out by an injury in the second quarter.
  • Horston and Jackson are averaging (points/rebounds) 16.7/7.0 and 14.0/5.5, respectively, vs. teams ranked in this week’s national polls, while Jasmine Powell is putting up 11.8 ppg., 3.3. rpg. and 3.3 apg. 
  • Rickea Jackson has carded three 20+ scoring games, including 26 vs. Rutgers, 24 vs. UMass and 20 vs. Colorado, while Jordan Horston filled the nets with 20+ vs. Ohio State in the opener (20) and against Colorado (23) last Friday night.
  • Tennessee has had six different leading rebounders over the first eight contests, including Jordan HorstonRickea JacksonJasmine PowellMarta SuárezJasmine Franklin, Horston and the trio of Jillian Hollingshead, Horston and Jackson in that order.
  • Jasmine Powell has 33 assists vs. 16 turnovers for a 2.1 assist/turnover ratio that is fourth among SEC players. 
  • Jasmine Franklin and Jillian Hollingshead have shown signs of settling in the past three games off the bench, with Franklin producing 11 points, nine boards vs. Gonzaga, and Hollingshead coming up with seven points and four rebounds vs. Colorado and 13 points and eight rebounds vs. Eastern Kentucky.
  • Tennessee has forced an average of 19 turnovers per contest over the last five games, including an opponent season-high 25 by Colorado last Friday.
  • The Lady Vols have held four of their past five opponents under 40 percent shooting, with UCLA’s 43.5 effort serving as the exception.
  • After averaging 20.8 turnovers over the first four games of the season, UT cut that number to 15.5 over the last four contests, including a season-low 12 vs. Eastern Kentucky.
  • Defensively, the Big Orange women have averaged 5.6 blocks and 9.8 steals over the past five contests after posting three-game averages of 2.3 and 6.0, respectively, to open the campaign.

What’s Next?

  • The Lady Vols make two appearances next week when they face Chattanooga at Thompson-Boling Arena on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. (SECN+), followed by Wright State at 2 p.m. on Sunday (SECN+).
  • The contest vs. UTC features a December Deal 4-Game Pack, where fans can get two tickets to LV Hoops vs Chattanooga, Wright State, UCF, and Wofford, plus two $10 concessions vouchers to each game.
  • It also has an option for a Weekday Family 4 Pack Deal, including four tickets & four $10 concession vouchers starting at $48 (plus tax/fees).

Looking Back At The Eastern Kentucky Game

  • No. 23/24 Tennessee posted a season high in points, eclipsing the century mark to defeat Eastern Kentucky, 105-71, in a wire-to-wire victory last Sunday afternoon at Thompson-Boling Arena.
  • The Lady Vols (4-4) were led by Jordan Horston, who became the 48th player in Lady Vol history to surpass 1,000 career points during her career. The 6-foot-2 senior guard finished with 14 points on 6-of-10 shooting to go along with eight rebounds, five assists, one steal and a block in the all-around performance.
  • In addition to her stat-stuffing effort, senior forward Rickea Jackson enjoyed a strong game, totaling 15 points, eight rebounds, five assists and a steal. Senior center Tamari Key posted one her strongest outings of the season, tallying 13 points, six rebounds and two blocks.
  • Offensively, Tennessee was on fire all day long, shooting 52 percent from the field and knocking down eight 3-pointers. UT dished out a season-high 26 assists, while turning the ball over a season-low 12 times. The Lady Vols won the game in the paint, outscoring the Colonels (4-3), 70–32, and doubling them up on the glass, 62-31. Tennessee grabbed a campaign-best 25 offensive rebounds, which led to a 2022-high 34 second-chance points.  
  • The Lady Vols dominated defensively, holding Eastern Kentucky to only 36 percent shooting, while forcing 15 turnovers. The Big Orange also notched eight steals and six blocks on the day.
  • UT’s bench accumulated a season-high 58 points, including impressive performances from sophomore forward Jillian Hollingshead, who posted 13 points and a career-high eight rebounds, and sophomore forward Karoline Striplin, who shot 5-of-6 to post a season-best 10 points.

Coming In Hot

  • Tennessee turned in 33 first-quarter points against EKU, going six of 10 from behind the arc and shooting a scorching 59 percent from the floor. The total tied for the 10th-most points scored in a single quarter in program history.  
  • Nine Lady Vols contributed at least one bucket to the 22-point lead, which was their largest first-quarter lead of the season.
  • The Lady Vols went on to amass 60 points in the first half, the most since Dec. 6, 2017, when they put up 61 in the first half against Troy.  

Balanced Attack

  • All 15 active Lady Vols saw the floor against the Colonels.
  • Fourteen tallied at least one point, and five Tennessee players ended the game in double figures for the first time this season and the initial occasion since Jan. 2, 2022, vs. Arkansas.  

Paint Presence

  • UT racked up a season-best 70 points in the paint against Eastern Kentucky.
  • Coming into the contest Tennessee’s previous high in the paint was 44 against Ohio State in the season opener.  

A Look At The Hokies

  • Va. Tech features five players scoring in double figures, led by 6-6 All-American and 2022 ACC Player of the Year Elizabeth Kitley (20.3 ppg./11.6 rpg.).
  • Other double-figure scorers include Georgia Amoore (13.3), Kayana Traylor (12.5), Taylor Soule (10.9), Cayla King (10.4) and Ashley Owusu (10.4),
  • VT has beaten Kentucky and Missouri from the SEC and Nebraska from the Big Ten, but Tennessee will be the first ranked team it has faced in 2022-23.
  • The Hokies are coached by Kenny Brooks, who is 131-69 in his seventh year in Blacksburg and 468-191 overall in his 21st year as a head coach.

Va. Tech’s Last Game

  • Georgia Amoore showed out with a triple-double of 24 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists to lead Virginia Tech past the Nebraska Cornhuskers, 85-54, in Blacksburg on Thursday night.
  • The Hokies (7-0) had three players score in double figures, led by Elizabeth Kitley, who recorded a double-double with 24 points and 12 rebounds.
  • Amoore tacked on a triple-double with 24 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists, and Taylor Soule helped out with 18 points.

UT/VT Notes

  • Tennessee leads the all-time series over the Hokies, 8-2, including 3-1 in Knoxville, 4-1 in Blacksburg and 1-0 at neutral sites. 
  • Kellie Harper is 5-1 all-time vs. the Hokies as a head coach, including a loss in 2007 while at Western Carolina, four victories as head of the program at NC State in 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013 and another while leading the Lady Vols in 2021.
  • Harper played in a Tennessee win over Virginia Tech on March 20, 1999, as the #2/2 Lady Vols prevailed over the #13/15 Hokies, 68-52, in the NCAA Sweet 16 at Greensboro, N.C.
  • In that contest, 13,204 fans were on hand as UT legend Chamique Holdsclaw went over 3,000 career points.
  • Tennessee is 112-30 vs. schools in the ACC.

Last Time We Met

  • No. 11/10 Tennessee pulled off a gritty win in Cassell Coliseum on Dec. 5, 2021, defeating Virginia Tech 64-58 to remain unbeaten and card the finest opening to a season in Kellie Harper‘s 18-year career.
  • UT overcame a seven-point fourth-quarter deficit with a 16-3 run over the final 6:01 to end the Hokies’ 63-game home win streak against non-conference opponents. It also kept the Lady Vols perfect on the season at 8-0, with the program starting with that record for only the seventh time in the past 20 years.
  • Tennessee was led by graduate guard Jordan Walker, who went four of four from behind the arc to tally 17 points, and freshman guard/forward Sara Puckett, who logged a career-high 15. Junior center Tamari Key turned in her fifth double-double of the season with 11 points and 12 rebounds, while holding VT standout Elizabeth Kitley to four points on 1-of-12 shooting.

-UT Athletics

Lady Vols / Credit: UT Athletics

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