TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – No. 12/8 Tennessee ran into a hot-handed Alabama team on Thursday, falling 74-64 to a Crimson Tide squad that hit 10 threes and shot 45.5 percent on the night.
Junior Tamari Key led UT (21-5, 10-3 SEC) with a season-high 20 points and 11 rebounds. Senior Rae Burrell and junior Jordan Horston were also in double digits with 13 and 12, respectively.
Megan Abrams was the high scorer for UA (12-12, 4-9 SEC) with 27, and Brittany Davis turned in 23.
Alabama knocked down a pair of threes to jump out to a 6-2 lead just over three minutes into the contest, but an old-fashioned three-point play by Tamari Key and back-to-back treys from Burrell put the Lady Vols up 11-8 by the 3:39 mark. UA rallied back with an 8-1 run fueled primarily by Davis to lead by four with seven seconds left in the period, but Burrell nailed a 10-foot jumper at the buzzer to score her eighth point of the quarter and pull UT within two at 16-14.
Abrams and Key each hit a pair of free throws at the start of the second to keep the deficit at two until Alabama went up 23-18 off a Khyla Wade-Warren 3-pointer with 7:48 left in the half. The teams traded buckets for the next two minutes until the Crimson Tide went ahead by seven just before the media timeout, scoring a three-pointer and a pair of free throws on back-to-back possessions to make the score 32-25. Abrams knocked down a three following the timeout to stretch UA’s lead into double digits, and Davis added another on the next trip down the court to give the Crimson Tide a 38-25 lead by the 2:56 mark. Sara Puckett ended the 11-0 UA run with a layup 20 seconds later, and Burrell followed it up with another before the end of the half to cut the halftime score to 38-29.
Alabama opened the second half with a 7-1 run before Key got a put-back at the 7:57 mark, pulling the Lady Vols within 14. That bucket would prove to be the first of four straight for Key, UT’s only scorer for a three-minute span while UA went on to lead by as many as 19. Horston converted on a three-point play to move the score to 55-41, but a pair of threes and a layup had the Crimson Tide back ahead by 19 with 1:40 left in the third. Jordan Walker hit the first of a set of free throws to close out the quarter with Tennessee trailing 63-45.
Abrams made a layup to stretch UA’s lead to 20 to start the final stanza, but Alexus Dye hit a pair of free throws to rally the Lady Vols, setting off a 10-2 run to cut Alabama’s lead to 12 with 4:53 to play. Davis scored two points from the free-throw line, but back-to-back fast-break layups by Burrell and Horston whittled the deficit down to 11 at 69-58. Horston added a layup a minute later to pull Tennessee within 10 before leaving the game with an injury. Alabama scored four points from the free-throw line, and the Lady Vols cut it back to 10 once more, but that is as close as they would get, falling 74-64 in Tuscaloosa.
UP NEXT: The Lady Vols will head to South Carolina for a 1 p.m. ET matinee against the No. 1/1 Gamecocks on ABC. ESPN College GameDay will be live in Columbia from Colonial Life Arena from noon to 1 p.m. ET.
RAE CROSSES 1K: Senior Rae Burrell entered Thursday’s contest needing just one point to hit 1,000 career points. With 13 against the Crimson Tide, she became just the 47th Lady Vol to reach the 1K milestone.
TK BACK ON TOP: Tamari Key turned in a season-high 20 points and 11 rebounds at Alabama, leading Tennessee in scoring for the first time since dropping 17 on Arkansas on Jan 2. It also marked her eighth double-double of the season and first since the SEC opener against Alabama on Dec. 30.