Highlights/Photos/Postgame/Stats: No. 7/9 UT Opens SEC Play With 62-44 Win Over Alabama

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – No. 7/9 Tennessee opened SEC play with a 62-44 win over Alabama in Thompson-Boling Arena on Thursday night.
 
Graduate Jordan Walker led UT (12-1, 1-0 SEC) in scoring with 16 points, while junior Tamari Key turned in a double-double with 13 points and 11 rebounds. Their efforts helped head coach Kellie Harper pick up win No. 50 during her third season at UT.
 
Brittany Davis was the high scorer for Alabama (9-3, 0-1 SEC) with 12 points, and JaMya Mingo-Young was close behind with 11.

Lady Vols vs. Alabama / Credit: UT Athletics

Both teams struggled to score in the first 90 seconds, but Sara Puckett found her way into the lane for a layup to get Tennessee on the board at the 8:28 mark, and Walker followed it up with another on the next possession to give UT an early four-point lead. Alabama responded with a trey on the other end, but Walker and Tess Darby answered with 3-pointers on back-to-back possessions to put the Lady Vols up 10-3 less than five minutes into the contest.
 
The Lady Vols went ahead by nine off two free throws from Alexus Dye following the media timeout, but a three by Hannah Barber cut UT’s lead to six a minute later. Tennessee then went on to outscore the Crimson Tide 9-4 in the closing minutes to take a 23-12 lead into the second period.
 
The Lady Vols hit a scoring slump in the second, going without a bucket for almost three minutes while UA whittled the lead down to seven. Walker ended the drought for UT, and Key followed it up with three straight points to put Tennessee on top by 12 at the media break. Alabama launched into an 8-0 run following the timeout to cut the lead to four before Brooklynn Miles found Key in the lane for the last bucket of the half, sending the game into halftime with UT ahead 30-24.
 
The Lady Vols’ shooting went cold in the third, with the Big Orange going without a basket for more than six minutes, while Alabama took the lead at 32-30 before Kaiya Wynn hit a layup with 3:37 left in the quarter. Wynn hit the second of a pair of free throws on the next possession to reclaim the lead for Tennessee, but UA was once again on top by the 2:32 mark. Walker came up with a layup 30 seconds later, and Darby nailed a corner three as the shot clock wound down to give UT a boost of momentum as well as the lead at 38-35 with 1:10 left in the period. A jumper by Mingo-Young at the buzzer pulled the Crimson Tide within one, sending the game into the final stanza with UT leading 38-37.
 
Walker opened the scoring with a fast-break layup in the fourth, setting off a 9-0 UT run contributed to by Miles, Key and Green that moved the Lady Vols ahead by 10 with 7:06 to play.  Barber ended the skid for UA, putting in a layup with just over six minutes remaining, but Tennessee quickly rebuilt its lead, going ahead by 18 after a 7-0 run that was capped off by a jumper by Walker with 1:16 left in the game. Khyla Wade-Warren hit one more bucket for the Crimson Tide, but Miles closed out the game with a fast break layup, capping the final score at 62-44.
 
UP NEXT: Tennessee will travel to Arkansas for a 1 p.m. ET (noon CT) game that will be televised by SEC Network.
 
TK DOING BIG THINGS: Key followed up a season-high performance of 18 points against ETSU with 13 points, 11 rebounds and five blocks against UA. Over the last three games she is averaging 15.7 ppg., 8.3 rpg. and 3.3 bpg. while shooting 73.1 percent (19-26) from the field.
 
BACK TO DOUBLE-DOUBLESTamari Key logged 13 points and 11 rebounds to card her seventh double-double of the season. The Lady Vols have recorded 15 doubles-doubles this season, with at least one player managing a double-double in 12 of 13 contests.
 
DEFENSE FOR DAYS: Alabama entered the game averaging 44.5 percent from the field and was held to just 24.3 percent on the night. Tennessee leads the nation in field goal percentage defense, limiting opponents to an average of 30.2 percent from the field through 13 contests. Statistically, the Lady Vols have had their best defensive games in back-to-back contests, holding UTC to 22.6 percent shooting and Alabama to 24.3 percent.
 

-UT Athletics

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