Hoops Preview: Lady Vols vs. Auburn

Hoops Preview: Lady Vols vs. Auburn

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Sunday will be Senior Day 2023 on Rocky Top, as Tennessee (19-9, 11-2 SEC) welcomes Auburn (14-11, 4-9 SEC) for a 12:02 p.m. ET matinee at Thompson-Boling Arena.

UT will honor a record seven seniors, including several who have the option to return in 2023-24. The 2022-23 senior group includes Jasmine FranklinJordan HorstonRickea JacksonTamari KeyJasmine PowellJessie Rennie and Jordan Walker. According to all-time rosters, it appears UT honored five players in 2011-12, 2007-08 (including redshirt junior Candace Parker), 1983-84 and 1974-75. 

This will mark the 60th meeting between these programs, with UT holding a 47-12 series advantage, including 23-2 vs. AU in contests played in Knoxville.

The Lady Vols enter the contest holding down third place in the SEC standings, while the Tigers are in 10th position with three games to play.

Tennessee is coming off one of its finest performances of the season, an 87-67 blowout at Arkansas in which the Lady Vols scored 20+ points in three different quarters, five players reached double figures in points, two players registered double-doubles and the team dominated the glass by an incredible 59-25 advantage. UT has won three of its past four games, including its last two by margins of 27 and 20 over Vanderbilt and Arkansas, respectively.

Auburn has won one of its last four, but it snapped a three-game losing skid Thursday night at home vs. Texas A&M, earning a 65-55 triumph over the Aggies.

Game Info./Promotions

  • Senior Day pregame festivities will begin at 11:38 p.m. ET (19:00 on clock). Fans should be in their seats early so they won’t miss honoring seven 2023 seniors.
  • Gates C & E will open at 11 a.m. to ticketed fans.
  • The Weekend Family 4 Pack Deal will be on sale, featuring four tickets & four $10 concessions vouchers starting at $72 (plus tax/fees).
  • Free parking and shuttle service are available from the Ag Campus (Lot CF near Brehm & Food Science Bldgs.).
  • For additional details and information, please call 865-974-1734 or visit the Fans tab on UTSports.com and click on the Fan Experience link.

I-40 Construction Delays Alert

  • Some I-40 lane closures will be in place on Sunday, which may cause some backups prior to and after the game (on I-40).  
  • An additional traffic advisory includes James White Parkway, Neyland Drive & Hall of Fame Drive rolling roadblocks prior to the game.
  • Fans are encouraged to leave home a little earlier to arrive for Senior Day.

Broadcast Information

  • Sunday’s game will be televised on ESPN2, with Tom Hart (PxP) and Debbie Antonelli (Analyst) on the call.
  • 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 stations and by audio stream, with Brian Rice on the call and Andy Brock serving as studio host. 
  • A link to the live audio stream can be found on the Hoops Central page or the 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 the Vol Network Affiliates tab.
  • Air time for games on the Lady Vol Radio Network generally occurs 30 minutes prior to tip-off.
  • The Lady Vol Network broadcast also is available on satellite radio via SiriusXM Ch. 374 and SXM App Ch. 374.

About The Seniors

  • Tennessee seniors Jasmine Franklin (Fayetteville, Ark.), Jordan Horston (Columbus, Ohio), Rickea Jackson (Detroit, Mich.), Tamari Key (Cary, N.C.), Jasmine Powell (Detroit, Mich.), Jessie Rennie (Bendigo, Australia) and Jordan Walker (Muskegon, Mich.) will be recognized before the game.
  •  Due to an extra season of eligibility being made available to those losing a year during the COVID-19 pandemic, several members of the class have the option to return for the 2023-24 season.
  • Horston, Key and Rennie arrived for Kellie Harper‘s first season as head coach in 2019-20 and comprise her first four-year class at Tennessee. All three would have a “COVID year” remaining.
  • Walker is in her third season at UT after spending three (and playing two) at Western Michigan. Her eligibility will be exhausted. 
  • Franklin, Jackson and Powell are in their first season at UT after transferring from Missouri State, Mississippi State and Minnesota, respectively. Only Franklin has completed her eligibility.
  • Franklin, Horston, Jackson, Powell and Walker are 1,000-point scorers during their careers, giving Tennessee its first-ever roster with five 1K players. Key would have made it six if not for the medical condition which ended her season in December.
  • During her time at MSU and UT, Franklin also pulled down more than 1,000 rebounds.
  • Horston is one of only four all-time players at Tennessee with 1,000 points, 500 rebounds and 400 assists and has more double-doubles (19) than any other true guard in program history.
  • She also ranks 32nd on the school’s all-time scoring list (1,302), stands seventh in career assists per game (4.06) and tallied a 9.4 rebound average as a junior that tied for the sixth-best in UT annals.
  • Key is the school’s record-holder for most blocks in a career (295) and season (119) and most career triple-doubles (2). She also is fourth in career field goal percentage (.593).

Lots Of Connections In This One 

  • This year’s Tennessee squad features two players who hail from the state of Alabama, two coaches who spent their childhood there, and two more coaches who worked at Auburn. 
  • Sophomores Sara Puckett and Karoline Striplin come from Muscle Shoals and Hartford, respectively.
  • Striplin’s parents were student-athletes at Auburn, with dad Jim Bob playing football and mom Karie playing softball there. 
  • UT assistant Samantha Williams was born in Luverne, Ala., before later moving to Louisville, Ky., while Joy McCorvey is from Brewton, Ala., and graduated from T.R. Miller High School.
  • Head coach Kellie Harper spent two years from 1999-2001 on Joe Ciampi’s staff at Auburn (admin. asst., then assistant coach), while Jon Harper graduated from Auburn and spent three seasons as a practice player, manager and intern for Ciampi from 1996-99.
  • Samantha Williams played for the Tigers and Ciampi from 1992-96, connecting with Jon Harper during that time and facing off against UT as a senior in  1995-96 when Kellie was a freshman Lady Vol.
  • Lady Vol strength and conditioning coach Bryan Tatum worked with Auburn football from 2014-21.

Pursuing 20 Wins For The 46th Time 

  • Tennessee is seeking its 46th all-time 20-win season, dating back to 1974.
  • This would mark Tennessee’s third 20-win season in Kellie Harper‘s four seasons as head coach, with the 2020-21 total of 17 impacted by several COVID-related game cancelations that no doubt would have pushed the Lady Vols to the 20-victory plateau.

UT Offense Shifting Into High Gear 

  • Over its past three games, Tennessee is averaging 87.7 points per game, with 91 at Mississippi State, 86 vs. Vanderbilt and 87 at Arkansas.
  • That has elevated the Lady Vols to No. 2 in scoring in league games at 76.77 this season behind South Carolina (82.31) and ahead of LSU (76.15).
  • Rickea Jackson is averaging 24.7 ppg. and 9.3 rpg. while shooting 53.2 percent from the field and 87.5 percent from the free throw line over the last three.
  • Jordan Horston (13.7 ppg., 8.0 rpg.) and Tess Darby (11.7) are also in double figures for points during that span, with Jillian Hollingshead (9.3 ppg., 7.7 rpg.) and Jordan Walker (8.0) aren’t far behind.
  • Walker is dishing out 4.7 assists in those games.
  • UT is +23.3 in rebounding (52.0 to 28.7), including a 49-22 advantage on the offensive glass.

Looking Back At The Arkansas Game

  • Tennessee outscored Arkansas in the opening stanza 25-9 and led wire to wire, taking a commanding 87-67 win on the road on Thursday night in Bud Walton Arena.
  • Seniors Rickea Jackson and Jordan Horston each recorded a double-double to lead the Lady Vols (19-9, 11-2 SEC). Jackson finished with a team-high 25 points and 12 rebounds, and Horston logged 15 points, 12 rebounds and six assists. Three other Lady Vols were in double digits, with junior Tess Darby posting 11 points, and graduate Jordan Walker and senior Jasmine Powell each turning in 10.
  • Erynn Barnum was the high scorer for Arkansas (19-9, 6-7 SEC) with 25 points. Chrissy Carr and Samara Spencer also had strong outings with 14 and 10 points, respectively.

JP Hits 1K

  • With the first three-pointer of her 10-point evening against Arkansas, Jasmine Powell eclipsed 1,000 career points and now standing at 1,007. 
  • The senior joined Rickea Jackson (1,565), Jordan Walker (1,299), Jordan Horston (1,302) and Jasmine Franklin (1,257) as the fifth member of the current squad to hit 1K. That is the most ever on one Tennessee team. 

Balanced Attack

  • Five Lady Vols finished in double figures against Arkansas with Rickea Jackson (25), Jordan Horston (15), Tess Darby (11), Jasmine Powell (10) and Jordan Walker (10) all finding their way into double digits. 
  • It is just the second time this season UT has had five players score 10 or more points, with the previous occasion coming against Eastern Kentucky on Nov. 22, 2022, when Tennessee won 105-71.  

Double-Digit Darby

  • Tess Darby drained three treys against Arkansas and finished with 11 points on the night. 
  • She has now scored in double figures in three straight games and in eight contests on the season with seven of those coming in SEC play. 
  • Over the last three outings, she is averaging 11.7 ppg.

UT/AU Notes

  • The Lady Vols are 23-2 vs. the Tigers in games held in Knoxville, 15-6 in games played at Auburn and 9-4 at neutral sites.
  • During her freshman season, Jordan Horston hit a runner in the lane with 0.6 left on the game clock to give the Lady Vols a 56-55 win.
  • UT is 2-0 vs. AU in overtime games, winning extra-frame contests in Knoxville vs. the Tigers in 1996 and 2004. 
  • Tennessee and Auburn played for the 1989 NCAA Championship in Tacoma, Wash., with the Lady Vols prevailing, 76-60.
  • Tennessee also beat the Tigers in regional finals in 1987 and 1991 en route to NCAA Final Fours they would end up winning.
  • UT and AU four times played for SEC Tourney titles from 1985 to 1990, with the Lady Vols winning three of those (1985, 1988, 1989). 
  • Kellie Harper is 3-3 all-time vs. Auburn, going 2-1 the past two seasons as UT’s coach and winning in 2012 while at NC State. She was 0-2 vs. AU (with Nell Fortner at the helm) while leading Western Carolina.

A Look At The Tigers

  • Auburn is led by two scorers in double figures, including Aicha Coulibaly (16.4) and Honesty Scott-Grayson (12.5).
  • The Tigers force 19.4 turnovers per contest.
  • AU holds foes to a 39.7 field goal percentage.
  • Auburn gets out-rebounded on average 39.9-36.1.

AU’s Last Game

  • Aicha Coulibaly scored 18 points, and Auburn overcame an eight-point deficit in the second half to defeat Texas A&M 65-55 Thursday at Neville Arena.
  • On a night when Auburn missed a dozen free throws, Sania Wells secured the win by going 10-for-10 from the line in the fourth quarter, finishing with 13 points.

Last Meeting Between UT/Auburn

  • No. 4/5 Tennessee suffered its first conference loss of the season on Jan. 27, 2022, falling 71-61 at Auburn.
  • Junior Jordan Horston led UT (18-2, 7-1 SEC) in scoring with 21 points, and graduate Jordan Walker tied her season high with 17.
  • Aicha Coulibaly was the leading scorer for Auburn (9-10, 1-7 SEC) with 26 points. Sania Wells, Jala Jordan, and Annie Hughes added 13, 11, and 10, respectively.  

Last Time In Knoxville

  • The No. 20/21 Lady Vols closed the regular season by defeating Auburn on Feb. 28, 2021, racing to an 88-54 Senior Day victory at Thompson-Boling Arena.
  • 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 adding eight rebounds.
  • Alaina Rice led Auburn (5-18, 0-15 SEC) with 11 points, while Unique Thompson and Alycia Reese added 10.

Upcoming Games

  • Tennessee closes out its 2022-23 regular-season slate at Thompson-Boling Arena when No. 1/1 South Carolina visits on Thursday for a 7 p.m. ET tip on ESPN.
  • The Lady Vols will conclude the regular season schedule next Sunday, traveling to Lexington to take on Kentucky at Memorial Coliseum. Tip time for that matchup is slated for 2 p.m. on SEC Network.

-UT Athletics

Lady Vols vs. Auburn / Credit: UT Athletics

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