KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — No. 20/21 Tennessee (13-6, 7-4 SEC) embarks on the final road trip and last week of the 2020-21 regular season, traveling to Columbia for a Thursday evening battle with Missouri (8-9/4-8 SEC). The Lady Vols and Tigers will tip it off at 7:02 p.m. CT (8:02 ET) at Mizzou Arena.
After facing ranked teams in its last four games, UT will play against a pair of unranked Tiger teams at MU on Thursday and vs. Auburn on Sunday to wrap things up prior to the SEC Tournament.
UT is holding down fourth place in the SEC standings and is trying to seize one of the double byes for the league tourney after being predicted to finish sixth in the preseason coaches and media polls. Mizzou, meanwhile, was picked to finish 10th and 11th in the league polls. The Tigers are currently occupying 10th, but they have been in a number of close SEC games that narrowly escaped their grasp.
Kellie Harper‘s squad, no doubt, is benefiting from having the normal break between Sunday and Thursday games, allowing her team to get its legs back and have two full practices and a shoot-around prior to facing Missouri. It also is glad to see its opponents on equal footing, as three of the last four UT foes (UK, A&M and UGA) had enjoyed open dates prior to facing the Lady Vols and, of course, Tennessee had endured its 77-hour road trip/ordeal to Texas A&M/Houston, thanks to Winter Storm Uri.
UT enters having lost three of its last four, but the one victory was over No. 2/3 South Carolina, 75-67, on Feb. 18. UT then fell to No. 22/23 Georgia on Sunday, 57-55, with Rennia Davis having a game-winning three-point attempt knocked off course by a Bulldog defender.
MU has split its last four contests and comes off a 96-80 home victory vs. Florida on Sunday.
- Thursday’s game will be streamed by SECN+, with Nate Gatter (PxP) and former Mizzou Tiger Jordan Roundtree (Analyst) on the call.
- Institutions 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.
- 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.
- The contest also can be heard on Lady Vol Network radio stations and by audio stream, 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.
LADY VOL STATUS UPDATE
- With two regular-season games to go, Tennessee is vying for a top-four seeding in the SEC Tournament, which earns the all-important double bye.
- If Kellie Harper‘s squad can pull that off, it would mark UT’s first Friday debut at the tournament since 2015, when the Lady Vols were seeded fourth and advanced to the finals before falling to South Carolina.
- UT tied for third in the SEC standings a year ago but was relegated to the No. 6 seed by virtue of tie breakers.
- The Lady Vols are in play for a No. 3 seed in the NCAA Tournament and helped their cause with an eight-point win over No. 2/3 South Carolina on Feb. 18.
- Tennessee has posted four victories over ranked teams (No. 13/13 Arkansas, No. 15/15 Indiana, No. 12/12 Kentucky, No. 2/3 South Carolina), marking the most in a season since 2017-18 when it had seven.
- UT also suffered setbacks to four squads ranked at the time it played them: No. 3/5 UConn (67-61), No. 20/18 Kentucky (71-56), No. 6/5 Texas A&M (80-70) and No. 22/23 Georgia (57-55), with Rennia Davis missing the UK game due to medical reasons.
- Tennessee’s other two losses are to a pair of teams who are now ranked but weren’t at the time: No. 18/22 West Virginia (79-73 OT) and No. 17/18 Georgia (67-66).
BIG ORANGE SLICES
- UT is paced in scoring in all games by junior guard Rae Burrell (16.9 ppg.) and senior forward Rennia Davis (16.0 ppg., 8.7 rpg.), with sophomore center Tamari Key chipping in 9.2 ppg. and 5.4 rpg., and sophomore point guard Jordan Horston contributing 8.2 ppg. and 4.0 apg.
- In SEC play, three Tennessee players are scoring in double figures, including Davis (19.1 ppg.), Burrell (17.1) and Key (11.4). Davis ranks No. 6 in the SEC, while Burrell is 11th.
- Against ranked foes, Davis and Burrell are putting up 20.3 and 18.0 ppg., respectively.
- Davis has seven double-doubles this season and 36 for her career, tying Glory Johnson for fourth all-time at Tennessee.
- UT has had 20+ scorers in its last six games, including Rennia Davis vs. Ole Miss (21), Tamari Key vs. Florida (23), Rae Burrell vs. Kentucky (22) and Rennia Davis vs. Texas A&M (25), South Carolina (24) and Georgia (22).
- For the season, Davis has six 20-point games, Burrell five and Key 1. Davis has 19 for her career now and is one shy of tying Meighan Simmons for sixth all-time at Tennessee.
- Davis stands 13th on UT’s all-time scoring list with 1,688 points and is 14th on the rebounding list with 891 boards.
- Sophomore Tamari Key, who is one of the SEC’s top shot blockers along with Jenna Staiti (UGA) and Aliyah Boston (USC), averages 2.8 bpg. in all games to rank third and is tied for second in SEC contests at 3.4 bpg.
- Key has broken into the Lady Vol career blocks top 10 as a sophomore and stands eighth with 139 in 50 career games for an average of 2.78 that ranks No. 1 in Tennessee history. Candace Parker is second (2.50).
- Another sophomore, Jordan Horston, is tied for fifth at Tennessee in career assists average at 4.38 apg. through 50 games.
WHAT’VE YOU DONE FOR ME LATELY
- Rennia Davis dropped 20+ points in her last three games, all against ranked foes, and averaged 23.7 ppg.
- She had 25 vs. #6/5 Texas A&M, 24 vs. #2/3 South Carolina and 22 vs. #22/23 Georgia.
- Davis was named SEC Player of the Week on Feb. 23 for averaging 23.0 ppg. and 9.0 rpg. last week in games vs. #2/3 South Carolina and No. 22/23 Georgia.
- Kasiyahna Kushkituah has pulled down an average of 10.0 rebounds over the past five contests, including a career-high-tying 13 vs. Georgia on Feb. 21.
- Tamari Key has blocked 26 shots over her last five games, averaging 5.2 per contest. She has as many or more blocks than Mississippi State (26), Missouri (26), Auburn (23) and Florida (23) have recorded during the entire SEC schedule.
- Rennia Davis is 20 of 23 and Tamari Key is 10 of 12 at the free-throw line the past three games.
RECAPPING UT’S LAST GAME
- No. 21/21 Tennessee pulled within one in the final seconds at No. 22/23 Georgia but couldn’t overcome a tough day offensively, falling 57-55 in Stegeman Coliseum on Feb. 21.
- Senior Rennia Davis led Tennessee (13-6, 7-4 SEC) with 22 points and six rebounds. Junior Rae Burrell turned in 10 points and five rebounds, and senior Kasiyahna Kushkituah pulled down 13 rebounds to tie her career high.
- Gabby Connally was the high scorer for Georgia (17-4, 9-4 SEC), finishing with 24 points. Que Morrison was also in double figures with 11 points, and Jenna Staiti grabbed 12 boards.
UT-MIZZOU SERIES NOTES
- The Lady Vols hold a 11-3 all-time record vs. Missouri, dating back to Jan. 14, 1978, with Tennessee winning the past three meetings.
- Against Mizzou, the Lady Vols are 5-1 in games played in Knoxville, 2-0 at neutral sites, and 4-2 in Columbia.
- UT owns an 8-3 mark against Missouri since the Tigers joined the SEC. Robin Pingeton has been the head coach in Columbia that entire time, and this is Kellie Harper‘s second season.
- Tennessee beat MU, 84-39, in Knoxville on Jan. 10, 2013, in their first-ever SEC meeting. Later that season Mizzou evened the score, defeating UT, 80-63, in Columbia.
- Prior to 2013, the Lady Vols defeated Missouri as a non-conference foe three times, most recently at the 2010 Paradise Jam tournament in the U.S. Virgin Islands, 82-44.
- Three of the past five meetings between these schools have resulted in a four-point game in Columbia in 2018 (MU, 77-73) and two-point differentials in Knoxville (MU, 66-64) and Columbia (UT, 62-60) in 2019.
- Kellie Harper‘s first two games vs. the Tigers while leading the Lady Vols included a 10-point home win and a 13-point neutral site triumph at the SEC Tournament that came after her squad overturned a 13-point deficit.
- Tennessee’s Kellie Harper is 4-4 vs. Missouri, with the first two wins coming while leading Missouri State (2-4 vs. MU) from 2013-19 and the most recent two coming on Jan. 2, 2020, in Knoxville (77-66) and March 5, 2020, in the SEC Tournament at Greenville, S.C. (64-51), as UT’s head coach (2-0).
- Harper is 2-2 in home games, 0-2 away and 2-0 at neutral sites vs. the Tigers.
- Missouri State won its first two vs. Mizzou under Harper’s tutelage in 2013 and 2014 and lost a four-point decision to the Tigers in 2018-19 at Columbia, 65-61, before the Bears got their train rolling toward a berth in the NCAA Sweet 16.
- Tennessee’s Marta Suárez and Missouri’s Mama Dembele were schoolmates at Joaquim Blume Institute and teammates in Spain’s LF2 League with Segle XXI Barcelona.
- The Tigers feature four players averaging double figures in points, with Ladazhia Williams (14.5), Aijha Blackwell (14.0), Hayley Frank (13.1) and Shug Dickson (10.2) providing a balanced offensive arsenal.
- Missouri has made 120 three-pointers this season and hits at a 38.1 percent clip, led by Hayley Frank’s 46.9 percent marksmanship.
- Mizzou has close losses to Arkansas (twice), LSU, Texas A&M and Kentucky.
RECAPPING MIZZOU’S LAST GAME
- Missouri (8-9, 4-8 SEC) sank a program-record 18 three-pointers en route to a 96-80 win over Florida (10-11, 3-10 SEC) last Sunday in Columbia.
- The Tigers’ 96 points matched a season-best from their opener vs. North Alabama on Nov. 27.
- Prior to the game, Mizzou honored its two seniors on the roster, redshirt senior guard Shug Dickson and redshirt senior forward Shannon Dufficy, who contributed to the win in a huge way by scoring 20 and 19 points, respectively.
- The sophomore duo of forward Hayley Frank (26) and guard Aijha Blackwell (21) gave MU three players tallying 20 or more points.
THE LAST TIME THESE TEAMS MET
- No. 6 seed Tennessee overcame a 13-point second-quarter deficit and ended up winning by 13, in a 64-51 victory over 11th-seeded Missouri in the second round of the SEC Tournament in Greenville, S.C., on March 5, 2020.
- UT (21-9), which won its fourth straight game, put three players in double figures. Sophomore Rae Burrell led the team with 16 points, and juniors Rennia Davis and Kasiyahna Kushkituah finished with 15 and 13, respectively.
- Missouri (9-22) was led by Aijha Blackwell with 13 and Hannah Schuchts with 11.
LAST TIME IN COLUMBIA
- Tennessee earned a hard-fought win over Missouri on Feb. 17, 2019, coming from four points down in the final stanza to claim a 62-60 triumph in front of a crowd of 8,559 at Mizzou Arena.
- Sophomore forward Rennia Davis logged her 17th career double-double with 16 points and 11 rebounds for the Lady Vols (17-8, 6-6 SEC).
- MU (19-8, 8-5 SEC) was led by Amber Smith with 14 points and five rebounds. Sophie Cunningham and Cierra Porter were close behind with 13 apiece.
- Tennessee has one remaining regular-season contest after Thursday, as Auburn comes to Knoxville for a 2 p.m. ET match-up on Sunday (SEC Network).
- It will be Senior Day at Thompson-Boling Arena, with Rennia Davis, Kasiyahna Kushkituah and Jaiden McCoy being saluted before the game.
- Missouri, meanwhile, plays at Mississippi State on Sunday at 3 p.m. CT (SEC Network).