On Sunday, Tennessee hosted a rare double-header featuring its women’s and men’s basketball programs.
The Lady Vols got it kicked off at 1 p.m. in a marquee matchup vs. No. 9 Virginia Tech. Tennessee would ultimately fall 59-56 in the contest.
The Lady Vols trailed by double-digits multiple times throughout the game but never surrendered. Jordan Horston refused to let Tennessee lose without a fight through her 26 points and 11 rebounds. The double-double was her second of the year and 15th of her career.
“I thought she poured her heart out and gave us everything she had,” said Tennessee coach Kellie Harper on Horston. “I’m proud of her and proud of her effort, and I thought she was being a leader.”
This production came at a valuable time with Rickea Jackson inactive. Harper said it was a coach’s decision and she would miss an indefinite amount of time.
For the Hokies, Elizabeth Kitley has been their most consistent scorer. However, against Tennessee, she was held to just six points. It was efforts from Tamari Key that kept her silent. She forced Kitley to pass out of the post and even swatted away three shots.
On offense, Key backed down Kitley for 11 points on 5-for-7 shooting.
“Just keeping my head up and not worrying about any of the games in the past or my performance in the past games,” said Key on how she prepared for the game. “Also, continuing to work hard and keep pushing. And my teammates have been super supportive of that, so they are a big help as well.”
Despite the effort from Horston and Key, Tennessee couldn’t stay afloat. The Lady Vols trailed for the entire game and missed two attempts in the final moments to send the match into overtime.
The loss moves Tennessee to 4-5 on the year to prolong a disappointing start.
However, just a few short hours later, the men’s team took the floor to face off with Alcorn State. The Vols made quick work of the Braves in the form of a 94-40 win.
In the incredible offensive performance, Olivier Nkamhoua led the charge. He scored a season-high 20 points while dishing out six assists.
“I think our mindset coming into the game was pretty good,” Nkamhoua said. “I think our preparation is getting better and everybody is starting to tune in on the type of mentality that we need to have as a team. We just can’t let it go.”
Helping out were Julian Phillips, Jahmai Mashack, Uros Plavsic, Tyreke Key and Zakai Zeigler. Each of the five players reached double-digit scoring. The team also assisted on 27 of its 33 made baskets.
On defense, the Vols remained an elite force. They held Alcorn State to 27.1% shooting from the field and 6.3% shooting on 3-pointers. The Braves also turned the ball over 22 times leading to 36 points.
“Overall, I would tell you that it was probably our most complete game on both ends in terms of concentration,” said Tennessee coach Rick Barnes.
Overall, it was another dominating win for Tennessee. Next, the Vols will have another weak opponent when they host Eastern Kentucky on Wednesday.
Ryan Sylvia is the Sports Editor at TNJN. He is a senior at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville majoring in journalism and electronic media. Although he spent most of his life being raised outside of Philadelphia, he was born in Knoxville, and he is happy to be back home. Ryan has had a love for sports from an early age, and he found his love for writing in high school while taking journalism classes. He hopes to find a job involving both his passions as a sports journalist after graduation. To reach Ryan, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org