Davis buries Tigers, No. 12 Lady Vols advance in SEC Tournament

Tennessee (24-6, 11-5 SEC) lost its star senior Jaime Nared to an apparent hip injury in the fourth quarter of its contest against Auburn (14-15, 5-11 SEC) in Nashville on Thursday. However, the Lady Vols advanced to the third round of the SEC Tournament when freshman forward Rennia Davis banked in a dagger 3-pointer with 0.5 seconds remaining in the game.

Although they lost the All-SEC forward, the No.12 ranked Tennessee finished off Auburn 64-61 and will advance to play the No. 2 seed Gamecocks on Friday at 7 p.m. ET.

Nared tried to return to the game with five minutes remaining, but she clocked out for the night with 4:36 left in the game. She led the team in scoring with with a total of 17 points. Davis, the hero of the game for the Volunteers, logged 16 points and five rebounds.

Janiah McKay led No. 10 seed Auburn on Thursday night with 24 points, while her teammate Daisa Alexander stayed  close behind with 16 points. Alexander knotted the game up at 61 with 11.2 seconds to go when she stole a Tennessee inbound pass and took it to the rack for a bucket.

While Tennessee chalked up a whopping 24 turnovers on the night, it still cashed in from the charity stripe. The Lady Vols were 20-of-24 from the free throw line on the night while the Tigers were shot just 4-of-5 from the line.

While Anastasia Hayes and Cheridene Green were the only players off the bench for the orange-and-white tonight, head coach Holly Warlick knew Hayes would the player to create the last shot.

“We wanted to get (Hayes) to the basket because she had been doing so well,” Warlick said. “She attacked and it closed in, she kicked out to (Davis) and she let it fly… I hope she called glass.”

Davis was a perfect 2-of-2 on the night from beyond-the-arc and was the anchor for Tennessee when Nared went out. She created shots all night long and when the big moment came, the freshman cashed in.

“I’m just happy the shot went in,” Davis said. “We had a lot of turnovers, as we did (the first matchup against Auburn), I’m just glad we were able to come out with the win.”

Davis knew when Nared went down that somebody had to step up for the Lady Vols, and when Warlick called her name, she was there to answer.

“I’m just glad I was able to beat that person for my teammates,” Davis said. “I understand that (Tennessee) lost last year in the first round, we didn’t want to do that again, so I’m just happy.”

Edited by Seth Raborn

Featured image courtesy of Tennessee Athletics

Takeaways from No. 11 Lady Vols’ loss to Missouri

The Lady Vols (21-6, 9-5 SEC) dropped a second consecutive contest Sunday afternoon to No. 13 Missouri (22-5, 10-4 SEC). This matchup marked the second time Tennessee has lost to the Tigers in the history of the series.

The bench stays short for Warlick

As she has done in many games this season, Holly Warlick played nine players, but three of the bench players only played eight minutes or less.

The bench has talent, but Warlick sticks to her guns when it comes to riding her starters. Jaime Nared played all 40 minutes in the contest. Once again, Mercedes Russell logged substantial play time with 36.

Anastasia Hayes shines as the star off the bench for Warlick. Hayes has not hesitated in proving her worth, but the majority of Tennessee’s bench doesn’t see more than 10 minutes a contest.

Out of the 13 shots taken by bench players, Hayes took 11. She went 4-11 in the game, logging 29 minutes.

Though bench players saw little play time, Warlick made it clear the bench came in and did some good things.

“I’m glad to see them come in. They’re very capable,”Warlick said. “When you’re on the bench you don’t have the luxury of starting the game and settling in. You’ve got to come in and maintain and do better, and I thought they did better for us.”

Even when Tennessee out-rebounds opponents, not a guaranteed win

Before Sunday’s contest, the Lady Vols were 16-1 in games where they out-rebounded opponents. Tennessee won the rebounding tally 30-28 and smashed Missouri on the offensive glass with 14 rebounds to five by Missouri.

Teamwork not there for Lady Vols

The Lady Vols showed effort, but something just didn’t click as Nared seemed to carry the team the majority of the contest. 

Nared scored 25, a team-high, and trailed only Sophie Cunningham of Missouri who dropped in 32. Warlick acknowledged the troubles Cunningham gave the team, as she scored or assisted on 14-of-25 of Missouri’s buckets.

“She’s a competitor and she plays every possession all out,” Warlick said. “She was a handful for us … my hats off to her.”

Nared, logging every minute of the game, is the clear-cut leader besides Mercedes Russell for the Lady Vols. The minutes prove her lead.

Both Russell and Nared average close to 40 minutes per game, but when the bench players come in for the Lady Vols, maybe the chemistry just isn’t there with the lack of minutes they log.

Missouri logged 16 assists on 25 field goals in the game while the Lady Vols were lackluster in the passing lanes. The Lady Vols posted an awful seven assists on 27 field goals in the contest.

If this Lady Vols team is looking to make a deep run, it will have to both extend the bench and get the ball around more. Evina Westbrook posted only two assists behind five turnovers.

Edited by Lexie Little

Feature image courtesy of Channing Curtis

Previewing the LSU Tigers

After the firing of Butch Jones, Tennessee now turns its attention to No. 20 LSU.  This will be the first time the two teams have faced each other since 2011, a game in which the Vols won 38-7.  The Tigers are fresh off a 33-10 victory over SEC West rival Arkansas.  LSU currently sits 4-2 in SEC play with its only two losses coming to No. 1 Alabama and No. 16 Mississippi State.

LSU is coached by Ed Orgeron, who is in his first full season as head coach of the Tigers, although he was interim head coach at the end of the season last year.  However, Orgeron has plenty of coaching experience, having been head coach at Ole Miss, as well as an interim head coach at USC.  He is no stranger to Knoxville, as he was on the staff of Lane Kiffin during the 2009 season as a recruiting coordinator, associate head coach, and defensive line coach.  He left after the 2009 season to join Kiffin’s USC staff.  Orgeron also had a stint in the NFL with the New Orleans Saints as their defensive line coach.

LSU is led offensively by quarterback Danny Etling, who is a transfer from Purdue.  Etling is in his second season as the starting quarterback for the Tigers, and has emerged as one of the top signal-callers in the SEC.  This season, Etling has thrown 11 touchdowns and just two interceptions.  This Saturday will be the 21st straight game he has started at quarterback for the Tigers.

Etling’s favorite target is wide receiver D.J. Chark, who leads the team with 29 receptions for 718 yards on the year.  Chark had his best game of the season in an earlier victory over Auburn, where he grabbed five receptions for 150 yards.

Derrius Guice is the leader of the LSU ground game, as he comes in averaging almost six yards a carry. He also has nine touchdowns on the year, and closing in on another 1,000 yard season.  Last week was one of his best games as he amassed 147 yards on 21 carries, and three touchdowns.  The junior from Baton Rouge was one of the most sought after players in the country when he came out of high school in 2015.

A nice compliment to Guice in the backfield is senior Darrel Williams. Williams has rushed for 602 yards and six touchdowns on the year for the Tigers. Williams and Guice are one of the best one-two punches in the SEC, as well as the country.  When Guice needs a rest, the Tigers don’t miss a beat.

On the defensive side of the ball, the Tigers depend on linebacker Devin White, one of the league’s top defenders.  White had 14 tackles in last week’s game, and was named SEC Defensive Player of the Week for the third time this season.  He had his sixth double-digit tackle game, and leads the conference with 103 tackles, with over 10 tackles per game.  White is viewed as a strong NFL prospect in the future.  His production in only his sophomore year is very promising for LSU.

The Tigers rank second in the league in total sacks.  They are led in that category by defensive end Christian LaCouture, nose tackle Greg Gilmore, and outside linebacker Corey Thompson.

LSU is already bowl eligible, but they would love to add to its win total this week with a win over Tennessee, and improve its chances at a major bowl game.  They make it clear that they are not taking the Vols’ struggles for granted.  LSU understands the situation that Tennessee is facing all too well, because last year they dealt with the same issue when former LSU coach Les Miles was fired.

Featured image courtesy of LSU Athletics

Edited by Seth Raborn

Tennessee volleyball falls to Auburn 3-1

Tennessee (11-12, 4-10 SEC) fell to Auburn 3-1 after an intense match in Auburn Arena on Thursday night. Tessa Grubbs led the team with 10 kills followed by Madison Coulter and Breana Jeter with nine kills each. Brooke Schumacher led the team with 26 digs followed by Coulter and Sedona Hansen with 16 digs each. Hansen continues to impress fans while on the road as she led the team with 25 assists.

In the beginning of set one, Auburn (14-8, 7-6 SEC) took a four-point run and gained a little lead on the Vols early on in the set. After that, the Vols applied the pressure to the Tigers and took off with their own four-point run to tie the match 5-5. Half way through the set, the Vols forced the Tigers into a few errors and went on a 7-3 run to take a 16-13 lead. After that, the match went back-and-forth with five game ties, but Tennessee failed to take the lead allowing Auburn to win the set, 25-22.

Tennessee continued to put pressure on Auburn in the second set as they continued to exchange points. The Lady Vols rallied early in the set and took a 9-6 lead over Auburn. The matched remained close as Tennessee rallied again late in the set, taking a 23-20 lead and pushed through, winning the set 25-23.

The Vols struggled in the third set making a few errors which allowed Auburn to take a three-point run followed by a four-point run making the score 18-15. Tennessee took a timeout to rebuttal but couldn’t come back, losing 25-18.

Tennessee continued to struggle in the fourth set and Auburn took a four-point run in the middle of the set leaving the score at 15-11. Tennessee again struggled to keep up and Auburn closed the set with a 25-20 win.

The Vols will end their last road trip of the season in Tuscaloosa to face the Crimson Tide in Foster Auditorium this Sunday at 2 p.m. Tennessee will then close its season with three home games in Thompson-Boling Arena against Ole Miss, Georgia and LSU.

Edited by Ben McKee

Feature image courtesy of UT Sports

Kareem Canty-less Auburn no challenge for Vols

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It was below freezing outside of Thompson-Boling Arena, but many would argue that it was colder on the court. Both Tennessee and Auburn combined for only seven made field goals in the first 10 minutes of action on Tuesday night.

Both squads looked incredibly sloppy through the first half. Auburn didn’t even score until over six minutes in.

Devon Baulkman started off the game with a quick five points, but then failed to convert on his next five shots, so Tennessee coach Rick Barnes took to his bench to ignite the Vols. Robert Hubbs III came in to give Tennessee a quick 10 points, which helped secure a 34-23 halftime lead.

More than half of Tennessee’s first half points came from the reserves, as Tennessee’s usually-dependable leading scorer, Kevin Punter, struggled with only two first half points on 1-of-5 shooting.

Auburn only managed to shoot 26 percent from the field in the first half and looked lost without its leading scorer, Kareem Canty, who was serving a suspension. Bryce Brown stepped in to lead the Tigers in scoring with nine points on 3-of-6 shooting.

The halftime break served the Vols well. They came out looking more composed on both sides of the floor and it took only four minutes for them to secure a 17-point lead, their largest of the game.

Baulkman started off the second half with a couple quick buckets just like he did in the first half and Hubbs III carried the Vols the rest of the way to a 71-45 blowout victory over Bruce Pearl’s Tigers.

Hubbs had a breakout game with 20 points on 7-of-12 shooting.

“I just let the game come to me,” he said.

“Tonight was the first time I hit a three since early December, so that really helped a lot. After that, I just fed off that.”

Baulkman also chipped in with 14 points on 5-of-11 shooting and 4-of-10 shooting from beyond the arc. Tennessee’s 42 bench points came just three points away from outscoring Auburn as a whole.

Auburn shot an even worse 21 percent in the second half and couldn’t get anything going. Brown led the Tigers with 18 points on 5-of-11 shooting.

Tennessee travels to Missouri on Saturday to take on the Tigers. Tip-off is set for 3 p.m. ET on the SEC Network.

Featured image by Ben Ozburn

Edited by Cody McClure

This week in Tennessee history

Photo by Ben Ozburn

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Last week we took a look at a huge victory for the Vounteers in the Orange Bowl over Miami back in 2003. But not all of Tennessee’s past is sunshine and butterflies. This week, we will take a look at one of the most disappointing and infamous games in Tennessee history: the 1996 loss to Memphis.

Tennessee and Memphis have played a total of 23 times. The first meeting in the series was in 1968. After the most recent meeting, a 50-14 UT win in 2010, Tennessee leads the series 22-1. It should be 23-0. That is what many Vols fans believe, anyway. Heading into the game in 1996, Tennessee had won all 15 previous meetings against the Tigers, with Memphis coming within a touchdown only once.

The Vols were 41-1 in games played in November dating back to 1985 and Tennessee’s program was riding a massive wave of momentum, as it had gone 12-1 in 1995. UT had legitimate national championship aspirations. The Vols were led by Heisman Trophy contender Peyton Manning and were looking to roll through what was considered the “easy” part of their schedule to end the regular season 11-1 again. Memphis had other ideas.

On the night of Nov. 9, 1996, Tennessee rolled into Memphis assuming it would pick up an easy win against an opponent it had never lost to. Memphis was determined to finally end the losing streak against in-state rival Tennessee. Much of the game was abysmal offensively, with neither team being able to take control of the game.

However, in the third quarter, Tennessee led the Tigers, 14-7. That is when the magic started to happen for Memphis. After the Vols scored their final touchdown, they kicked the ball to the Tigers and return man Kevin Cobb. Cobb took the kick 95 yards and scored a touchdown. What made that play hard to stomach for Vols fans, and still makes it hard to stomach, is the fact that it shouldn’t have happened. On the return, Cobb’s elbow was down around the Memphis 25-yard line, meaning the play should have been stopped then.

The referees didn’t see it, though, and since there was no instant replay at the time, Tennessee fans were forced to accept a 14-all tie. Tennessee managed to kick a field goal to bring the score to 17-14 in favor of the Vols with approximately a minute left to play. Then, miraculously, lightning struck again for Memphis. Its offense, which had only amassed 152 yards all game, drove the length of the field behind quarterback Qadry Anderson. He threw the game-winning touchdown pass to Chris Powers with 34 seconds left.

Manning threw for 298 yards, but also threw two interceptions, one of which was returned over 70 yards. Tennessee’s run game was also stifled, as the Tigers had over 10 tackles for loss. Memphis defeated the Volunteers, 21-17, for the first time ever. This was perhaps the greatest moment in the Tigers’ athletics history. And the Vols experienced true and bitter disappointment for the first time in a long time.

Since 1996, Tennessee is 7-0 against Memphis.

Featured image by Ben Ozburn

Edited by Cody McClure