Hoops Preview of SEC Tournament Quarterfinals: 3-seed Lady Vols vs. 14-seed Kentucky

Hoops Preview of SEC Tournament Quarterfinals: 3-seed Lady Vols vs. 14-seed Kentucky

Tennessee (21-10, 13-3 SEC) opens play in Game 10 of the 2023 Southeastern Conference Women’s Basketball Tournament on Friday at approximately 8:15 p.m. ET at Bon Secours Wellness Arena in Greenville, S.C. in the quarterfinal round after earning a double bye as a top-four seed.

The No. 3 seed Lady Vols, who enter in that position for the fourth straight season, will face the winner of Thursday night’s contest between No. 6 seed Alabama (20-9, 9-7 SEC) and No. 14 Kentucky (11-18, 2-14 SEC) which was Kentucky.

UT is able to make its debut on day three of the tourney because it won its most league games (13) in a campaign since going 15-1 and claiming the SEC regular season crown in 2014-15.

The Big Orange comes to Greenville having won four of its past five games and 17 of its past 22, with the only losses during that span coming at No. 3 Stanford (77-70), vs. No. 4 UConn (84-67), at No. 5 LSU (76-68), at 19-8 Mississippi State (91-90 2OT) and vs. No. 1/1 South Carolina (73-60).

The Lady Vols have victories over both the Crimson Tide and Wildcats this season, winning one at home and one on the road.

UT and UA met in the second game of league action on Jan. 1, with the Lady Vols securing an 89-76 decision at Thompson-Boling Arena in Knoxville.

Tennessee’s final game of the regular season was in Lexington on Sunday afternoon, and the Big Orange raced to an 83-63 victory on UK’s Senior Day at Memorial Coliseum.

Broadcast Information

  • Friday night’s game will be televised by SEC Network, with Courtney Lyle (PxP), Carolyn Peck (Analyst) and Brooke Weisbrod (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 game also can be heard on SiriusXM channels 138 or 190 and via the SXM App at channel 961.

Tennessee In The SEC Tournament

  • Tennessee is seeking to capture its league-leading 18th SEC Tournament championship trophy. UT was victorious in 1980, 1985, 1988, 1989, 1992, 1994, 1996, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2014.
  • The Lady Vols have been runners-up on six occasions, including 1982, 1990, 1991, 1995, 2003 and 2015.
  • UT last advanced to the title game in 2014 and 2015, winning in 2014 as a #2 seed, 71-70, over #4 Kentucky and falling as a #2 seed to #1 South Carolina, 62-46, in 2015.
  • Tennessee enters Friday night’s game with an 82-26 (.759) all-time mark in the 44th year of the tourney. 
  • In all-time SEC Tournament play, the Big Orange women are 10-3 vs. Alabama and 7-3 vs. Kentucky.
  • UT opened SEC play last season in the quarterfinals vs. Alabama, defeating the Crimson Tide, 74-59, in Nashville.
  • Tennessee last played Kentucky in the tournament in the semifinal round in Nashville a year ago, with the No. 7 Wildcats toppling the No. 3 Lady Vols, 83-74, en route to winning a championship.
  • The Lady Vols are 38-5 all-time in their opening game of the SEC Tournament and are 26-12 in their second contest of the tourney.
  • They have made 35 berths all-time in the semifinals.
  • UT is 23-12 in SEC Semifinal games and 17-6 in SEC Championship games.
  • The Big Orange women are 27-10 in SEC Tournament play since 2007-08.
  • Tennessee has had 15 SEC Tournament MVPs through the years.
  • Isabelle Harrison (2014), Glory Johnson (2012), Shekinna Stricklen (2011) and Alyssia Brewer (2010) were the past four MVPs from Tennessee.
  • The Lady Vols won the very first SEC Tournament title in 1980, defeating Ole Miss, 85-71, at Stokely Athletics Center in Knoxville.

Harper In The League Tournament

  • Kellie Harper is 3-3 in SEC Tournament games as Tennessee’s head coach, including 2-2 in Greenville and 1-1 in Nashville.
  • The Lady Vols have been the No. 3 seed in each of her four seasons leading the program, earning a double bye and beginning play on Friday in the quarterfinal round on each occasion.
  • Kellie (Jolly) Harper had an 11-1 record at the SEC Tournament during her time as a student-athlete at UT with postseason tournament titles in 1996, 1998 and 1999. The only loss was in the 1997 semifinals.

SEC Tournament Experience

  • Tennessee has seven active players possessing experience in the SEC Tournament, including Tess DarbyJordan HorstonBrooklynn MilesSara PuckettKaroline StriplinJordan Walker and Kaiya Wynn.
  • Tamari Key and Jessie Rennie also have experience but are inactive.
  • This marks the first SEC Tournament for four Lady Vols, including Edie DarbyJasmine FranklinJustine Pissott and Jasmine Powell, though Franklin and Powell have league tourney experience from their time at Missouri State and Minnesota, respectively.
  • Two Lady Vols have been to the SEC Tournament with other teams, including Jillian Hollingshead with Georgia and Rickea Jackson with Mississippi State.
  • Jackson saw action in the SEC event in 2019-20 and 2020-21, while Hollingshead did not play in last year’s tourney in Nashville due to injury.
  • Jackson made the SEC All-Tournament Team as a freshman in 2019-20 at MSU.
  • Jordan Horston didn’t play in last year’s event due to injury, but she tallied 24 as a freshman vs. Kentucky in the semifinals and put up 12 and 11 vs. Ole Miss and South Carolina, respectively, as a sophomore at UT.
  • Lady Vol junior Tess Darby scored 12 points vs. Alabama in the 2022 quarterfinals, while Jordan Walker had 11 vs. South Carolina in the 2021 semifinals.

Back In Greenville

  • This marks the sixth time Greenville has played host to the SEC Tournament.
  • UT stands at 6-4 in games played in the city after beating Ole Miss (77-72) and falling to South Carolina (67-52) in the semifinals in 2021.
  • Kellie Harper is 2-2 as a head coach in SEC Tourney games played at Bon Secours Wellness Arena.
  • No. 2 seed Tennessee defeated #1 seed LSU in the tourney title game, 67-56, on March 6, 2005, the first time the event was held in Greenville.
  • Shyra Ely was named the SEC Tournament MVP that year, while Shanna Zolman and Brittany Jackson joined her on the all-tournament team.
  • UT beat Auburn in the second round (64-54) and Vanderbilt in the semifinals (76-73) that year.

Sheila Frost Is UT’s ’23 Legend

  • The SEC announced its 2023 Class of Women’s Legends, and UT is represented by former basketball standout Sheila Frost, who played for the Lady Vols from 1985-89.
  • This year’s class is being honored at the 2023 SEC Women’s Tournament, March 1-5 in Greenville, S.C.
  • Frost, a 6-foot-4 center from Pulaski, Tenn., averaged double figures in points all four years of her career and was a three-time All-SEC First Team selection in 1987, 1988 and 1989. She also was a member of the 1989 NCAA All-Final Four and SEC All-Tournament Teams and a three-time NCAA All-Regional choice in 1986 (Mideast), 1987 (Mideast) and 1989 (East).
  • Frost remains No. 10 all-time in career points, with 1,790, and No. 5 in career rebounds with 1,043. She was the first of only six Lady Vols in history to hit 1,000 in each category.
  • In other career categories, Frost remains No. 3 in blocks (249), No. 4 in field goal percentage (59.1), No. 5 in field goals (754), No. 5 in career blocks average (1.80) and No. 9 in double-doubles (30) while representing her home state in 138 contests.

Looking Back At The UK Game

  • The Lady Vols cruised to an 83-63 victory over Kentucky to wrap up the regular season on Sunday in Memorial Coliseum.
  • Tennessee (21-10, 13-3 SEC), which picked up its first win in Lexington since 2017 and first victory at Memorial since 2015, finished with its highest conference win total since going 15-1 in 2014-15. The Big Orange closed the regular season winning four of their last five.
  • Senior Rickea Jackson was the top scorer for UT with 21 points and seven rebounds. Sophomore Jillian Hollingshead had a strong outing with 15 points on 88-percent shooting from the floor, and sophomore Karoline Striplin and graduate Jordan Walker were also in double figures, finishing with 12 and 10, respectively. Senior Jasmine Powell led the team in assists, dishing out a season-high-tying eight.
  • Maddie Scherr turned in a game-high 27 points to lead UK (10-18, 2-14 SEC), while Robyn Benton managed 17, and Jada Walker posted 10 on the day.

Count On ‘Kea

  • With 21 points at Kentucky, Rickea Jackson logged her sixth straight game with 20+ points, 14th of the season and the 11th in SEC play.
  • She also notched her 27th double-digit effort of 2022-23, the 15th time against an SEC opponent.
  • She ties Sheila Collins and Tanya Haave at ninth all-time in career (14) and season (14) games of 20+ points.

Striplin Finding Her Stride

  • Karoline Striplin posted her second double-digit outing in as many contests, recording 12 points at Kentucky on Sunday and 11 points against South Carolina the previous Thursday.
  • It marks her fourth 10+ performance of the season and third in SEC play.

Everybody Dishing

  • Tennessee recorded a season-high-tying 26 assists against Kentucky with eight different Lady Vols contributing at least one.
  • UT produced 26 assists on two other occasions this season, first against Eastern Kentucky on Nov. 26 and again against Alabama on Jan. 1.
  • The Big Orange has now tallied 20 or more assists eight times this season.

Horston Into Career Assists Top 10

  • With her first assist vs. Kentucky, Jordan Horston moved into the Lady Vol career assists top 10.
  • She finished the day with six dimes, moving her four-year tally to 434 and elevating her past Kristen “Ace” Clement (429) into the No. 10 spot on the list.  
  • Dena Head (439) and Michelle Marciniak (449) are next up the list at No. 9 and No. 8, respectively.

UT/UK Notes

  • Tennessee is 0-2 vs. Kentucky at neutral sites and 9-2 in postseason tournament games.
  • After winning on Sunday, UT is now 22-10 vs. Kentucky in Lexington, including 21-8 all-time at Memorial Coliseum and 1-2 in Rupp Arena.
  • UT picked up its first win in Lexington since 2017 and first victory at Memorial since 2015.
  • The Lady Vols own a 26-4 mark against UK in Knoxville and are 58-16 in all games.
  • 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.
  • UT has faced only one other team as many times as the Wildcats – Vanderbilt in 88 meetings.
  • Kellie Harper is 3-4 all-time vs. Kentucky, but she is 3-2 head-to-head vs. Kyra Elzy.

A Look At The Wildcats

  • UK is led in scoring by Robyn Benton (16.8), Jada Walker (12.6) and Maddie Scherr (11.3).
  • The Wildcats have three players with 22 three-pointers or more, including Benton’s 42.
  • Kentucky forces 20.43 turnovers per contest to rank No. 17 nationally.

Last Time We Met Kentucky

  • The Lady Vols cruised to an 83-63 victory over Kentucky to wrap up the regular season on Sunday in Memorial Coliseum.
  • Tennessee (21-10, 13-3 SEC), which picked up its first win in Lexington since 2017 and first victory at Memorial since 2015, finished with its highest conference win total since going 15-1 in 2014-15. The Big Orange closed the regular season winning four of their last five.
  • Senior Rickea Jackson was the top scorer for UT with 21 points and seven rebounds. Sophomore Jillian Hollingshead had a strong outing with 15 points on 88-percent shooting from the floor, and sophomore Karoline Striplin and graduate Jordan Walker were also in double figures, finishing with 12 and 10, respectively. Senior Jasmine Powell led the team in assists, dishing out a season-high-tying eight.
  • Maddie Scherr turned in a game-high 27 points to lead UK (10-18, 2-14 SEC), while Robyn Benton managed 17, and Jada Walker posted 10 on the day.

-UT Athletics

Lady Vols – SEC Tournament / Credit: UT Athletics

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