Four Lady Vols earn SEC recognition

Lady Vols / Credit: UT Athletics

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – The Tennessee Lady Vols had four players earn distinction from league coaches when the Southeastern Conference released its 2021 women’s basketball awards on Tuesday morning.

Senior forward Rennia Davis and junior guard Rae Burrell were named to the All-SEC Team. Davis was voted to the first team for the second straight season and picked up the third all-league honor of her career. Burrell, meanwhile, was selected to the All-SEC Second Team, collecting her initial league honor as a college player.

Sophomore center Tamari Key and rookie guard/forward Marta Suárez also drew notice, with Key making the five-player All-Defensive Team and Suárez grabbing a spot on the eight-member All-Freshman Team.

The 6-foot-2 Davis, who is in the running for several national awards, is averaging 16.9 points and 8.7 rebounds this season in 20 games while shooting 49 percent from the field and 83 percent from the free-throw line. In SEC play, Davis’ scoring numbers rise to 20.0 ppg. and 9.0 rpg. with shooting percentages of 52 percent on field goals and 85 percent on free throws. She is second on the team at 2.5 assists per game for the year.

Davis ranks 10th in all games among SEC peers in scoring and stands third in league play. She is ninth in rebounding in both all contests and vs. SEC foes. Her field goal percentage is seventh in all games and third in league play, respectively, while her free throw accuracy is first overall and second vs. SEC foes, respectively.

The Jacksonville, Fla., native has eight double-doubles and eight 20+ scoring games this season, including the last five contests in a row, ranking fourth and fifth at Tennessee, respectively, with career totals of 37 and 21 in those statistical categories. She is on track to finish in the career top 10 in scoring, scoring average, rebounds, rebound average and free-throw percentage at UT.

Burrell, meanwhile, has emerged as one of league’s most exciting players this season, putting up a team-leading 17.1 points per game, pulling down 4.3 rebounds per contest and shooting 47 percent from the field, 42 percent on three-pointers and 80 percent from the free-throw line. She is second on the team in steals (1.0), fourth in rebounding (4.3) and fourth in assists (1.9).

In SEC play, the 6-foot-1 Las Vegas product is producing 17.3 ppg. and hitting field goals at a 47-percent rate and free throws at an 81-percent clip. She ranks ninth in all games and 10th in league contests in scoring.

Burrell has tallied 20 or more points on six occasions this season and has led UT in scoring eight times. She and Davis, a potent combination known as Re and Rae, give Tennessee one the league’s top scoring duos this season.

Key, at 6-foot-5, has garnered respect from league coaches and players alike for her ability to block and alter shots as well as influence the actions of opposing offenses. After making her presence felt as a freshman, the Cary, N.C., product has demonstrated great improvement in 2020-21, further affecting opponents while staying on the floor longer during games by avoiding fouls that limited her minutes a year ago.

After averaging 2.774 blocks per game in 2019-20, Key has elevated that number is 2.857 as a sophomore, with those marks ranking third and now second, respectively, in school history for single season blocks average. Totaling 146 rejections in only two seasons, Key already has risen to No. 8 all-time at UT in career blocks. Those plays help UT rank as one of the nation’s best teams this season in blocks per game (5.4), field goal percentage defense (36.0), scoring defense (61.5) and rebound margin (+13.3)

Key, who is tied for second in the SEC in all games at 2.857 blocks and second in league play at 3.4, has bettered her rebounding (5.8), scoring (9.2) and shooting from the field (67 percent) as a sophomore as well. She is only the fourth Lady Vol ever to make the All-Defensive Team, following in the footsteps of Alexis Hornbuckle (2008), Kelley Cain (2010) and Glory Johnson (2011, 2012).

Suárez, 6-foot-2 reserve, has made an impact in her first season in Knoxville. While a nagging lower extremity issue has limited her playing time and effectiveness since late January, her abilities and contributions to UT’s success have been noted. Her versatility to play multiple positions and handle the ball at times have been valuable assets for the Lady Vols.

The native of Oviedo, Spain, was averaging 6.4 points, 5.6 rebounds and shooting around 45 percent from the field per game prior to her injury, and she started the team’s first 14 games. While her season numbers have ebbed to 4.5 ppg., 3.8 rpg. and 41 percent shooting from the field, she is still providing valuable spot minutes to the team and continues to stretch defenses with her growing confidence from the three-point arc.

Suárez is UT’s third member of the current team to make the All-Freshman Team, following Davis in 2018 and Jordan Horston in 2020.

The 14th-ranked Lady Vols (15-6, 9-4 SEC) head to Greenville, S.C., this week, where they will play on Friday at approximately 8:15 p.m. ET at the SEC Tournament. No. 3 seed Tennessee will meet the winner of Thursday’s No. 6 seed Arkansas vs. No. 11 seed Ole Miss contest on Friday evening at Bon Secours Wellness Arena.

2021 SEC Coaches Awards

-UT Athletics

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