Hoops Preview: SEC Semifinals: 3-seed Lady Vols vs. 7-seed Kentucky

Hoops Preview: SEC Semifinals: 3-seed Lady Vols vs. 7-seed Kentucky

No. 18/15 Tennessee (23-7/11-5 SEC), which earned a No. 3 seed by virtue of its outright third-place regular-season finish, will meet No. 7 seed Kentucky (17-11/8-8 SEC) in the semifinal round on Saturday evening at the SEC Tournament in Nashville.

The Lady Vols, who are a No. 3 seed for the second year in a row and have earned at least a share of third place in the standings all three seasons under Kellie Harper, will tip off 25 minutes after the conclusion of game 11 at Bridgestone Arena (approximately 6:30 p.m. CT/7:30 p.m. ET).

The winner of the UT-UK contest will face the winner of Saturday’s earlier semifinal contest between No. 1 seed South Carolina (28-1/15-1 SEC) and No. 4 Ole Miss (23-7/10-6 SEC).

Alexus Dye – Lady Vols / Credit: UT Athletics

This will mark the 73rd meeting between these border rivals, with UT holding a 57-15 advantage in the all-time series and winning the past two match-ups. UT and UK met on Jan. 16, 2022, with the (then) No. 5/6 Lady Vols coming out on top vs. the (then) No. 19/20 Wildcats, 84-58.

Tennessee advanced on Friday night by outscoring Alabama 11-5 in the opening stanza and holding the Crimson Tide to 31.7 percent shooting for the game in a 74-59 Lady Vol victory. 

Kentucky, meanwhile, moved on to the semifinal round by upending No. 6/6 LSU, 78-63. 


  • Courtney Lyle (play-by-play), Carolyn Peck (analyst) and Steffi Sorensen (reporter) will have the call for the ESPNU telecast.
  • All of the games included in the ESPN package (ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU) 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 for his final regular-season home game. He will be 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.
  • Air time for games on the Lady Vol Radio Network generally occurs 30 minutes prior to tip-off.


  • Tennessee is seeking to capture its league-leading 18th SEC Tournament championship trophy. UT was victorious in 1980, 1985, 1988, 1989, 1992, 1994, 1996, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2014.
  • The Lady Vols were runners-up on six occasions, including 1982, 1990, 1991, 1995, 2003 and 2015.
  • UT last advanced to the title game in 2014 and 2015, winning in 2014 as a #2 seed, 71-70, over #4 Kentucky and falling as a #2 seed to #1 South Carolina, 62-46, in 2015.
  • Tennessee enters Saturday night’s game with an 82-25 (.766) all-time record in the 43rd year of the SEC Tournament.  
  • The Lady Vols are now 38-5 all-time in their opening game of the SEC Tournament and are 26-11 in their second contest of the tourney.
  • They will be making their 35th appearance all-time in the semifinals.
  • UT is 23-11 in SEC Semifinal games and 17-6 in SEC Championship games.
  • The Big Orange women are 27-9 in SEC Tournament play since 2007-08.
  • Tennessee has had 15 SEC Tournament MVPs through the years.
  • Isabelle Harrison (2014), Glory Johnson (2012), Shekinna Stricklen (2011) and Alyssia Brewer (2010) were the past four MVPs from Tennessee.
  • The Lady Vols won the very first SEC Tournament title in 1980, defeating Ole Miss, 85-71, at Stokely Athletics Center in Knoxville.


  • This marks the first SEC Tournament for five Lady Vols, including Alexus DyeBrooklynn MilesSara PuckettKaroline Striplin and Kaiya Wynn.
  • All five contributed significantly on Friday night in the win over Alabama.
  • This is the third SEC Tournament for Kellie Harper and her coaching staff while at Tennessee. UT was 1-1 in both 2019-20 and 2020-21 and 1-0 thus far in 2021-22 for a 3-2 mark.
  • Kellie Harper had an 11-1 record at the SEC Tournament during her time as a student-athlete at UT with postseason tournament titles in 1996, 1998 and 1999. The only loss was in the 1997 semifinals. 
  • Rae Burrell has played in seven SEC Tournament games, averaging 18.3 ppg. in her opening games during the 2019-20, 2020-21 and 2021-22 seasons.


  • This marks the seventh time the SEC Women’s Basketball Tournament has occurred in Nashville, including 2002, 2004, 2008, 2011, 2012, 2018 and 2022.
  • Tennessee claimed championships in three of those seasons (2008, 2011, 2012).
  • Candace Parker, Shekinna Stricklen and Glory Johnson were the SEC Tournament MVPs for each of those Lady Vol title teams.
  • UT has a 12-3 record in SEC Tournament games played in Music City entering the 2022 event.
  • This will mark Kellie Harper‘s first game leading UT as a head coach at Bridgestone Arena and her first appearance ever representing the Big Orange at an SEC tourney in Nashville, as the women’s tourney didn’t make its first visit to the city until 2002.
  • The last time the Lady Vols played at Bridgestone Arena in 2018, they were a No. 7 seed and defeated No. 10 seed Auburn, 64-61, in the second round before falling to No. 2 seed South Carolina, 73-62, in the quarterfinals.


  • No. 18/15 Tennessee advanced to the semifinals at the SEC Tournament, defeating 13th-seeded Alabama in Bridgestone Arena on Friday night, 74-59.
  • Senior Rae Burrell led third-seeded Tennessee (23-7) in scoring with 21 points and a career-high-tying seven assists. Graduate Alexus Dye turned in a double-double with 16 points and 14 rebounds, and sophomore Tess Darby managed 12 points on 50 percent shooting.
  • Alabama (20-9) was led in scoring by Megan Abrams with 17 and Allie Craig Cruce with 12.


  • TK TIES IT UP: Junior Tamari Key blocked five shots against UA to tie Kelley Cain for the single-season school record of 113. She made it to 113 faster than Cain, reaching that total in 30 games as opposed to Cain’s 33.
  • SNOOP HOOPIN’: Alexus Dye turned in her fourth double-double of the season and 36th of her career with 16 points and a game-high 14 rebounds against Alabama. It marks her third straight game with double-digit scoring.
  • DISHIN’ AND SWISHIN’: Rae Burrell scored a game-high and season-high-tying 21 points against Alabama, leading UT in scoring for the third time this season and logging her second game of 20+ points. She also dished out a career-high-tying seven assists. Burrell has scored in double figures in eight straight games and in 12 of her last 14 contests since her return from injury.
  • FRESHMEN CONTRIBUTING: All four of Tennessee’s freshmen saw considerable playing time against Alabama, combining for 71 minutes and 14 points with each rookie contributing at least two points.
  • BIG-TIME BOARDS: Alexus Dye pulled down 14 boards for a new season high. Since Tennessee lost its leading rebounder, Jordan Horston, to injury, Dye has stepped up on the glass, averaging 10.0 rpg. over the last four contests.


  • Saturday’s game, and this will mark the fourth time a Lady Vol head coach has squared off against a former UT teammate leading another program.
  • The initial times occurred last season on Jan. 24 in Knoxville and on Feb. 11 in Lexington, with each team holding serve in its respective arena, and on Jan. 17, 2022, with UT prevailing in Knoxville.
  • UT’s Kellie Harper (1995-99) was teammates from 1996-99 at Tennessee with Kentucky head coach Kyra Elzy (1996-2001) and assistant coach Niya Butts (1996-2000). The trio played together on the second and third of UT’s three consecutive NCAA titles in 1996, 1997 and 1998.
  • Elzy served a stint on UT’s staff that included roles as assistant coach and associate head coach from 2012-16.
  • Last season, Elzy took over at UK following the retirement of former head coach Matthew Mitchell, who was a graduate assistant at UT in 1999-2000.
  • UK assistant Amber Smith was a G.A. at Tennessee in 2013-14.
  • Strength and conditioning coach Lee Taylor was a member of the UT women’s basketball staff in the same role from 2013-19.  
  • Wildcat starter Jazmine Massengill played at Tennessee from 2018-20 before transferring to UK after the 2019-20 season. Massengill is one of three Tennessee residents on the 2021-22 Kentucky roster. 
  • UT features last year’s Miss Kentucky Basketball in and the state’s 2021 Gatorade Player of the Year in Brooklynn Miles of Franklin County High School in Frankfort, Ky.
  • Tennessee senior Rae Burrell and Kentucky redshirt junior Dre’Una Edwards are former teammates and graduates of Liberty High School in Las Vegas, Nev. 


  • This marks the 73rd edition of Tennessee vs. Kentucky, with the Lady Vols leading the series, 57-15.
  • The Lady Vols own a 26-4 mark against UK in games played in Knoxville, with the Wildcats winning on Rocky Top in 1983, 1985, 2014 and 2019.
  • Tennessee is 21-10 vs. Kentucky in Lexington and 10-1 at neutral sites. The Lady Vols are 9-1 in postseason tournament games.
  • UT has faced only one other team as many times as the Wildcats – Vanderbilt in 86 meetings through 2022. 
  • The Lady Vols have won eight of the last 13 games in the series.
  • Tennessee is 20-8 all-time at Memorial Coliseum and 1-2 in Rupp Arena (RA), where the teams met last on Feb. 11, 2021.
  • UT is 3-1 in overtime games vs. Kentucky, including 3-0 in Lexington and 0-1 in Knoxville, with the last OT contest coming in 1994. 
  • Kellie Harper is 2-3 all-time vs. Kentucky, but she is 2-1 head-to-head vs. Kyra Elzy.


  • All-American Rhyne Howard scored 32 points as the seventh-seeded Kentucky women’s basketball team topped second-seeded LSU 78-63 on Friday night in the quarterfinals of the SEC Women’s Basketball Tournament at Bridgestone Arena. The win was Kentucky’s eighth in a row.
  • Howard hit 11 of 18 from the floor, including six of eight from behind the arc, and made all four of her free throws on her way to 32 points. It was the 10th time in her career that Howard has scored at least 30 points. In addition, she had three rebounds, three assists and two blocks.
  • Dre’una Edwards had a double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds, while Treasure Hunt had 13 points for the Cats.
  • Long-range shooting was one of the big keys to Friday’s win for UK. The Cats hit nine of 19 (47.4 percent) from behind the arc, while LSU made just three of 10 (30.0 percent) of its long-range shots.


  • Scoring 73 points in the final three quarters, the No. 5/6 Tennessee women’s basketball team used a balanced offensive effort to down No. 19/20 Kentucky, 84-58, on Jan. 17 at Thompson-Boling Arena in the annual We Back Pat game.
  • With the win, the Lady Vols improved to 17-1 overall and 6-0 in SEC play. It’s the best season-opening overall record since UT started the 2007-08 campaign at 22-1. The 6-0 league beginning is the program’s best since going 13-0 in 2014-15.
  • Rae Burrell and Keyen Green tied for the team lead in scoring, dropping 14 points apiece. Burrell was hot beyond the arc, going 4-of-4. It also was a  huge game for Green at Tennessee, as she tied her UT high in points and rebounds, pulling down seven. She added three assists, her most since joining the Big Orange in 2020.
  • In total, 10 of 13 Lady Vols taking the court scored. Four players finished with double-figure scoring, as Jordan Horston (11) and Jordan Walker (10) joined Burrell and Green.
  • The balance showed in the stat sheet, as Tennessee was 10-of-20 from beyond the arc. The Lady Vols also outscored UK in the paint, 40-28. UT pulled down 21 offensive boards, its fifth game this season with more than 20. That translated to a 22-8 advantage in second-chance points. Led by Burrell and Green’s contributions, Tennessee recorded 39 bench points to Kentucky’s nine.

-UT Athletics

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