KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – The No. 20/21 Lady Vols closed out the regular season with a dominant win over Auburn on Sunday, racing to an 88-54 victory in Thompson-Boling Arena on Senior Day.
With the triumph, Tennessee (15-6, 9-4 SEC) finished third in league play and locked up the No. 3 seed for next week’s SEC Tournament. It is UT’s highest seeding at the tourney since 2015, when the Big Orange carried a No. 2 tag into the event.
Tennessee was led by senior Rennia Davis, who logged a double-double with 23 points and 11 rebounds in her final game on The Summitt. Fellow senior Kasiyahna Kushkituah also had a big day, turning in a career-high 19 points and added eight rebounds. Classmate Jaiden McCoy also was honored before the game but was unable to play due to injury.
Additionally for UT, sophomore Tamari Key posted a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds, and sophomore Jordan Horston narrowly missed a double-double, finishing with 12 points and a career-high-tying nine assists. Junior Rae Burrell was also in double digits, ending the day with 14 points and four assists.
Alaina Rice was the high scorer for Auburn (5-18, 0-15 SEC) with 11 points, and Unique Thompson and Alycia Reese each finished with 10.
Davis got things started for Tennessee, scoring her first points just five seconds into the game. The Lady Vols had success inside early, finding Key and Kushkituah to build the lead to 10-4 by the 5:26 mark. The Tigers rallied back within four at 12-8 a minute later, but UT closed out the quarter with a 5-0 run to start the second with a 17-8 lead.
Davis poured in nine-straight points to open the second quarter, stretching Tennessee’s lead to 17 with 6:41 left in the half. Auburn remained without a field goal through the 4:48 mark when Thompson knocked down a long-range two to set off a 12-3 AU run that pulled the Tigers within 10 with a halftime score of 31-21.
A bucket by Honesty Scott-Grayson cut the Auburn deficit to single digits at the outset of the third quarter, but Burrell answered with a trey, and Davis followed it up with a layup on a fast break to put UT up 36-23 just over a minute into the period. Burrell hit from long range again at the 6:34 mark, fueling a 7-2 UT run that put the Lady Vols up 47-30 by the media timeout. They kept the pressure on following the break, outscoring the Tigers 9-7 in the last five minutes of the quarter to take a 56-37 lead into the final stanza.
Kushkituah scored six-straight points to start the fourth quarter, and Horston added a trey to give UT a 28-point lead less than two minutes in. Auburn would cut the lead to 24 off back-to-back threes by Rice and Reese with 3:32 left in the game, but that’s as close as they would get as UT closed out the game with a 12-2 run to win 88-54.
Up Next: The Lady Vols will head to the SEC Tournament as the No. 3 seed and will face the winner of the No. 6 seed vs. No. 11 game on Friday night. The game will start 25 minutes after the conclusion of the 6 p.m. game and will be televised by the SEC Network.
Coming In Hot: The 23-point effort against Auburn was Davis’ fifth-straight game of 20+ points. She will enter the SEC Tournament having averaged 24.0 ppg. and 8.0 rpg. while shooting 53.2 percent from the floor over the last five contests. Her 21st career 20-point effort pushed her past Meighan Simmons into sixth all-time at UT.
Double-Double Davis: With 23 points and 11 rebounds against Auburn, senior Rennia Davis recorded the 37th double-double of her career, passing Glory Johnson to rank fourth all-time among Lady Vols. It was her eighth of the campaign.
Unselfish Basketball: Tennessee dished out a season-high-tying 25 assists against Auburn with eight Lady Vols tallying at least one. Sophomore Jordan Horston led the way, tying her career high of nine.
Key Swattin’: Sophomore Tamari Key logged four blocked shots against Auburn, inching closer to seventh-place Nicky Anosike on the career blocks list. With 146 blocks during her young career, she trails Anosike by just 15. She has 60 for the year and is within six of cracking the season top ten for the second time in her career, even with a reduced number of games this season. She had 86 a year ago in 31 contests.
Big-Time Boards: The Lady Vols outrebounded the Tigers 47-29. They have outrebounded 20 of 21 opponents this season by an average margin of 14.2 rpg. The only team they didn’t outrebound was South Carolina, as the teams tied with 40 rebounds each.
Hot-Shooting Lady Vols: The Lady Vols found their range on Sunday, hitting a season-high 57.6 percent of their field goals and knocking down threes at a 60-percent rate, which also was a 2020-21 best.