Hoops Preview: Lady Vols at Kentucky

Hoops Preview: Lady Vols at Kentucky

Tennessee (20-10, 12-3 SEC) travels to Memorial Coliseum in Lexington to close out the regular season on Sunday with a 2:02 p.m. ET contest vs. Kentucky (10-17, 2-13 SEC). The matchup will mark the final basketball game in the historic venue before it undergoes major renovations during the offseason.

The Lady Vols enter the afternoon assured of a third-place finish in league play for the fourth consecutive season. They have earned a No. 3 seed and double bye into the quarterfinal round of the SEC Tournament at Bon Secours Wellness Arena in Greenville, S.C., and are slated to play at approximately 8:15 p.m. ET on Friday against the winner of Thursday’s game between the No. 6 seed vs. the victor of the No. 11/14 match-up. UT has won its most league games in a campaign since going 15-1 and claiming the SEC regular season crown in 2014-15.

The Wildcats are tied with Texas A&M in 13th place entering Sunday’s action and would currently get the No. 14 seed and play the No. 11 seed on Wednesday.

This will mark the 74th meeting between these programs, with UT holding a 57-16 series advantage, including 21-10 vs. UK in contests played in Lexington.

UT has won four of its past six games and 16 of its past 21, with the only losses during that span coming at No. 3 Stanford (77-70), vs. No. 4 UConn (84-67), at No. 5 LSU (76-68), at 19-8 Mississippi State (91-90 2OT) and vs. No. 1/1 South Carolina (73-60).

On Thursday evening, the Lady Vols led top-ranked South Carolina 19-10 entering the second quarter, but the Gamecocks outscored UT 49-22 during the middle two frames and held on for a 73-60 victory in Knoxville.

The Wildcats, meanwhile, dropped a 74-67 decision on the road at Texas A&M Thursday night, with the Aggies winning the rebounding and points in the paint statistical categories by 46-29 and 38-24 counts, respectively. UK comes into Sunday’s tilt having dropped its last six games and eight of its last nine.

Broadcast Information

  • Sunday’s game will be televised by SEC Network, with Sam Gore (PxP) and LVFL Tamika Catchings (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 broadcasts will be available on satellite radio via SiriusXM Ch. 374 and the SXM App on Ch. 374.

Lots of UT/UK Connections

  • There will be lots of familiar faces on the sidelines for Sunday’s game, and this will mark the fifth time a Lady Vol head coach has squared off against a former UT teammate leading another program.
  • Kellie Harper and Kyra Elzy are 2-2 against one another after their teams split in meetings over the past two seasons.
  • Harper held serve in home games in 2021 and 2022, while Elzy’s squad triumphed in Rupp Arena on Feb. 11, 2021, during UT’s last visit to Lexington, and came out on top, 83-74, in their most recent meeting last season at the SEC Tournament semifinals in Nashville.
  • UT’s Kellie (Jolly) 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.
  • Elzy, who is in her third season, took over at UK following the retirement of former head coach Matthew Mitchell, who was a graduate assistant at Tennessee in 1999-2000.
  • UK assistant Amber Smith was a G.A. at Tennessee in 2013-14.
  • Kentucky strength and conditioning coach Lee Taylor was a member of the UT women’s basketball staff in the same role from 2013-19. 
  • UT features the 2021 Miss Kentucky Basketball Gatorade Player of the Year in Brooklynn Miles of Franklin County High School in Frankfort, Ky.

Two Of UT’s Best Ever At Scoring 20+

  • Jordan Horston (15) and Rickea Jackson (13) rank No. 8 and No. 11 in career 20-point games at Tennessee.
  • The top seven are Chamique Holdsclaw (83), Bridgette Gordon (58), Candace Parker (48), Tamika Catchings (27), Rennia Davis (23), Diamond DeShields (21), Meighan Simmons (20). Shelia Collins and Tanya Haave are tied at ninth with 14 each.
  • Jackson’s 13 this season rank as the 11th best single-season total in school history.
  • Only Chamique Holdsclaw (28, 24, 20), Candace Parker (21, 17), Bridgette Gordon (20, 18), Shelia Collins (14) and Tanya Haave (14) have produced more in a year.
  • Jackson has the ninth-highest winning percentage all-time among Lady Vols in games in which she’s scored 20, with Tennessee 11-2 (.846) in those contests.

Jordan Is A Doubly Good Guard

  • Jordan Horston has produced 20 career double-doubles, recording the most of any pure guard in Lady Vol history. She has seven of those in 2022-23.  
  • Only four other UT guards have had five or more double-doubles in a career, including Shelia Collins (15), Diamond DeShields (7), Semeka Randall (7) and Tasha Butts (6).

Doing The Dirty Work

Looking Back At The South Carolina Game

  • The Lady Vols led by as many as 10 points in the first quarter, but No. 1 South Carolina bounced back and staved off a second-half rally to earn a 73-60 victory Thursday night at Thompson-Boling Arena.
  • Senior Rickea Jackson was the top scorer for Tennessee (20-10, 12-3 SEC) with 21 points and five rebounds. Fellow senior Jordan Horston turned in a double-double with 14 points and 11 rebounds, and sophomore Karoline Striplin also had a double-digit outing with 11 points on the night.
  • Unbeaten South Carolina (28-0, 15-0 SEC), which won its 34th straight contest, was led by Zia Cooke with 19 points. Brea Beal posted a double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds, and Kierra Fletcher and Aliyah Boston had 15 and 11 points, respectively.

First Quarter Lockdown

  • Tennessee held South Carolina to just 10 first-quarter points, the fewest points USC has posted in any quarter this season.
  • Prior to the game vs. Tennessee, the Gamecocks had been held under 15 points in just 16 of 108 quarters played this season, with the fewest being 11 against Ole Miss on Feb. 19.  

Striplin Sniping

  • Karoline Striplin drained a career-best three treys against South Carolina en route to 11 points.
  • Previously, she had never hit more than one three in a game.
  • The performance marks her third double-digit outing of the season and second during SEC play.

Big Game Jordy

  • Jordan Horston carded her seventh double-double of the season, tallying 14 points and 11 rebounds against USC.
  • Four of those seven double-doubles have come against ranked opponents, and she is averaging 19.5 ppg. and 9.2 rpg. against top-25 teams.

Count On ‘Kea

  • With 21 points against South Carolina, Rickea Jackson logged her fifth straight game with 20+ points, 13th of the season and the 10th in SEC play.
  • She also notched her 26th double-digit effort of 2022-23, the 14th time against an SEC opponent.

UT/UK Notes 

  • Tennessee is 21-10 vs. Kentucky in Lexington and 10-2 at neutral sites. The Lady Vols are 9-2 in postseason tournament games.
  • The Lady Vols are 20-8 all-time at Memorial Coliseum and 1-2 in Rupp Arena (RA).
  • UT is seeking its first win in Lexington since 2017 and first victory at Memorial since 2015.
  • The Lady Vols own a 26-4 mark against UK in games played in Knoxville.
  • 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.
  • Tennessee has faced only one other team as many times as the Wildcats – Vanderbilt in 88 meetings.
  • Kellie Harper is 2-4 all-time vs. Kentucky, but she is 2-2 head-to-head vs. Kyra Elzy.

A Look At The Wildcats

  • UK is led in scoring by Robyn Benton (16.6), Jada Walker (12.6) and Maddie Scherr (10.7).
  • The Wildcats have three players with 22 three-pointers or more.
  • Kentucky forces 20.4 turnovers per contest.

Kentucky’s Last Game

  • Robyn Benton scored 21 points, but Kentucky lost to Texas A&M, 74-67, on Thursday night at Reed Arena.
  • Kentucky (10-17, 2-13 SEC) got 18 points, six rebounds and two assists from Maddie Scherr, and 10 points and seven rebounds from Ajae Petty.
  • Benton (4-8) and Scherr (3-7) were 7 of 15 on 3FGs.

Last Meeting Between UT/UK

  • Graduate Alexus Dye put up a game-high 26 points, but it wasn’t enough to overcome a Kentucky team that hit six first-quarter treys as No. 18/15 Tennessee fell on March 5 in the semifinals of the 2022 SEC Women’s Basketball Tournament in Nashville, 83-74.
  • Dye managed her second straight double-double with a season-high 26 points and 10 rebounds. Senior Rae Burrell also was in double figures for third-seeded Tennessee (23-8) with 16 points on the day.
  • Rhyne Howard led seventh-seeded Kentucky (18-11) in scoring with 24 points, while Robyn Benton and Jada Walker each turned in 16.

Last Time In Lexington

  • 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. 16, 2022, in Knoxville.
  • Rae Burrell and Keyen Green tied for the UT team lead in scoring with 14 points apiece, while Jordan Walker and Jordan Horston contributed 10 each.
  • Rhyne Howard tossed in 24 for the Wildcats.

-UT Athletics

Lady Vols / Credit: UT Athletics

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