Tennessee (8-6 | 0-0 SEC) at Florida (11-1 | (0-0 SEC)
Thursday, December 29th, 2022 | 5:02pm CT/6:02pm ET
Gainesville, FL | Exactech Arena at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center

UT Lady VolsKnoxville, TN – The Tennessee women’s basketball team (8-6, 0-0 SEC) and NR/RV Florida (11-2) open Southeastern Conference play on Thursday night at Exactech Arena in the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville. FL. The tip-off is slated for 5:02pm CT.

The Lady Vols returned to Knoxville from winter break on Monday evening and shook off the rust Tuesday night with an impressive 92-53 victory over a Wofford team that entered the contest at 9-3. UT opened the game on a 22-0 run vs. the Terriers and held a 24-4 lead after one and a 49-19 edge at the intermission.

After a brutal early-season schedule of facing five teams currently ranked in the polls (including four in the top 10) left UT at 2-4 on November 21st, the Big Orange have won four of their past five games and six of their last eight.

The Tennessee Lady Vols have been playing their best basketball of the season over the past six games, pushing No. 9 Virginia Tech and second-ranked Stanford to the limit before falling 59-56 and 77-70, respectively. Tennessee had Stanford on the ropes at Maples Pavilion on Dec. 18, leading the Cardinal by eight late in the third quarter and carrying a five-point lead into the fourth frame before a 4-for-21 shooting spell over the final 10 minutes ended a chance at the Big Orange’s biggest win of the season.

Florida, meanwhile, will play its first game since falling 95-79 to No. 23/18 Oklahoma at the Jumpman Invitational in Charlotte, NC, on December 21st. The Gators began the season with an 11-1 record through 12 games, marking the best start to a campaign since opening at 12-1 in 2015-16.

Broadcast Information

Thursday night’s game will be streamed on SECN+, with Kyle Crooks (PxP) and Brittany Davis (Analyst) on the broadcast.

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.

Inside The Orange: Tennessee Basketball

Check your local TV listings for Inside the Orange: Tennessee Basketball, a 60-minute exclusive highlighting both Tennessee basketball teams.

As the Vols and Lady Vols embark on their respective SEC campaigns, head coaches Rick Barnes and Kellie Harper go in depth with Bob Kesling on their seasons thus far. 

Inside the Orange: Tennessee Basketball is presented by longtime partner UT Medical Center, the official healthcare provider of the Vols and Lady Vols.

       Market                Affiliate                               Date                   Times (Local)
       Chattanooga      WTVC-TV Ch. 9 (ABC)        Sun. Jan. 1          1 p.m.
       Knoxville            WVLT-TV Ch. 8 (CBS)         Sat.  Dec. 31        7 p.m.
       Nashville            WUXP-TV Ch. 30 (My)        Sat.  Dec. 31        5 p.m.
       Tri Cities            WJHL-TV Ch. 11 (CBS)       Sat.  Dec. 31        7 p.m.
       Digital                UTsports.com 

UT Lady Vols, Harper In SEC Openers

Tennessee is 34-6 all-time in its first SEC game of a season, including 19-3 at home and 15-3 on the road after defeating Alabama in Knoxville on December 30th, 2021, 62-44.

The Lady Vols have won their past eight SEC openers, last losing to LSU, 80-77, on January 2nd, 2014.

Kellie Harper is 3-0 at UT in SEC openers, winning vs. Missouri, Arkansas, and Alabama in her first three seasons.

In its first SEC home game of the season, Tennessee is 35-5, winning five of its last six such games.

Through the 2021-22 campaign, the Lady Vols are 31-9 in their initial SEC road game of a season after defeating Arkansas in 2021-22, winning 12 of the past 13.

Harper is 2-1 in UT’s first SEC road game of the season, falling at Kentucky in 2020 and defeating LSU in 2020-21 and Arkansas in 2021-22.

Tennessee is 4-0 vs. Florida in SEC openers, including 2-0 in Gainesville and 2-0 in Knoxville.

The most recent meeting in an SEC opener occurred on Jan. 3, 2002, when the No. 2/2 Lady Vols took an 88-64 victory over the No. 15/16 Gators in Gainesville.

Tennessee In SEC Play

UT is 425-94 (.819) in SEC regular-season games through 2021-22, winning 18 regular-season championships and capturing 17 SEC tourney titles through the years.

Tennessee Head Coach Kellie Harper is 30-15 in SEC games through her third year on Rocky Top, including 11-5 in 2021-22, and is 3-3 in SEC Tournament play.

UT tied for third in 2019-20 and finished third outright in 2020-21 and 2021-22, marking its best back-to-back-to-back outcomes in SEC play since taking first in 2012-13, second in 2013-14 and first in 2014-15.

The UT Lady Vols were picked second in the 2022-23 SEC Preseason Media & Coaches Polls, marking their best positions since 2015-16 and 2016-17, respectively.
A UT win over LSU in the 2021-22 finale would have given UT a tie for second.
The fact the Lady Vols still nabbed third despite the many injuries they suffered was pretty remarkable.

Noting The Offense

The dynamic Jordan Horston is playing the best basketball of her career, shooting 45.8 percent on field goals, 37.1 percent on threes and 75.0 percent on free throws while averaging 15.8 ppg., 6.2 rpg. and 2.9 apg.

Horston has scored in double figures 12 times, doing so every game in which she has been healthy and carding a team-high three double-doubles this season.

Coming off the bench the past four games, Rickea Jackson leads Tennessee at 16.1 ppg. Equally as electric as Horston, Jackson grabs 5.4 rpg. and is shooting 53.7 percent from the field and 83.0 percent from the charity stripe. She has 10 games in double digits

Jasmine Franklin, Karoline Striplin and Jillian Hollingshead have emerged of late as inside presences as UT attempts to offset the loss of Tamari Key. Franklin is putting up 8.5 ppg. and 7.5 rpg. over her last five contests, while Striplin is producing 6.0 ppg. and 3.2 rpg. and Hollingshead is contributing 6.0 ppg. and 4.6 rpg.

Sara Puckett and Marta Suárez have upped their offense over the last five, as well, averaging 10.2 ppg. and 2.4 rpg., and 5.8 ppg. and 2.6 rpg., respectively.

Puckett (9-16, 56.3 pct.) and Tess Darby (9-18, 50.0 pct.) have been sharpshooters from beyond the three-point arc over the past five contests.

Tennessee is averaging 85.2 ppg., shooting 46.6 percent from the field and surrendering only 9.2 turnovers per game over its last five contests.

That 9.2 turnover average during that recent span is a drastic improvement over the 17.9 per contest UT was allowing over the first nine games.

Tennessee is averaging 78.6 points per game for the season, a number that ranks No. 29 nationally for scoring offense.

UT has surpassed 90 points five times in 2022-23, including 94 vs. Rutgers, 105 vs. Eastern Kentucky, 96 vs. Wright State, 99 vs. UCF, and 92 vs. Wofford.

The Tennessee Lady Vols shot 41.5 percent from the field a year ago and are firing at a 45.3 clip in 2022-23.

A 59.4 percent shooting effort vs. Wright State was Tennessee’s best since hitting at a 61.7 clip vs. Liberty on 3/16/18 in the NCAA First Round.

UT recorded a school-record 84.6 shooting percentage for a quarter in the third frame vs. Wright State.

Jillian Hollingshead is hitting 57.4 pct. from the field through 13 games played to lead all active Lady Vols, while Jasmine Franklin is at 54.3 and Rickea Jackson is third at 53.7. Tamari Key was at 66.7 percent before her year ended.

UT has 91 assists compared to 46 turnovers over the past five games, with the best production/care numbers by Jasmine Powell (11/0), Tess Darby (9/0), Jasmine Franklin (4/0). Sara Puckett (9/2), Jordan Walker (12/3), Brooklynn Miles (9/3) and Jordan Horston (15/5).

Defensively Speaking

After holding opponents to 60 points or fewer only once in the first six games of 2022-23, the Lady Vols have done so five times in their past eight contests, including four of the past six outings.

Over the past five games, Tennessee is holding opponents to 34.6 percent shooting from the field and 58.0 points per contest after allowing 38.2 percent and 68.8 percent over the first nine contests.

Wofford had the lowest game-shooting percentage of any UT opponent this year at 27.9 percent on Tuesday.

The Tennessee Lady Vols have held nine of their past 11 opponents under 40 percent shooting, with UCLA’s 43.5 effort and Stanford’s 42.2 serving as the exceptions.

Through three contests, UT was barely out-rebounding opponents (39.3-38.0). They’ve now opened that margin up to +10.0 (43.3-33.3), out-boarding foes in 10 of 13 games, including six of the past seven.

UT’s 55 rebounds vs. Wofford marked the third time it has been +50 this season, including in two of the past three contests.

Tennessee is now at No. 26 nationally in rebound margin (+10.0) after a slow start this season on the boards and is 32nd for rebounds per game at 43.3.

Tennessee allowed only 15 rebounds to Wright State on December 11th, which is second in UT history only to the 13 grabbed by Puerto Rico-Mayaguez on 11/29/02 and tied with the 15 by Ole Miss on 2/24/11.

Despite facing a more rigorous schedule, Tennessee is averaging more steals (7.8 to 7.2) per game than it was last season.

Looking Back At The Wofford Game

Tennessee closed out the pre-conference portion of its schedule with a decisive 92-53 victory over Wofford on Tuesday in Thompson-Boling Arena.

Three Lady Vols (8-6) were in double figures, with senior Rickea Jackson leading the team with 16 points, and senior Jordan Horston and junior Tess Darby finishing with 13 and 11, respectively.

Graduate Jasmine Franklin paced the Big Orange in rebounding with 10 boards on the night while adding eight points, and freshman Justine Pissott notched a season-high three 3-pointers as seven Lady Vols recorded points from deep.

Tennessee tied its season-best of 12 treys against Wofford, shooting 43 percent from beyond the arc while holding WC to a season-low 53 points on the night.

For the Terriers (9-4), Jackie Carman scored 17 points.

Getting Defensive vs. The Terriers

Tennessee held Wofford to an opponent season-low point total in a quarter with four in the opening stanza on December 27th.

That tally tied the four third-quarter points by Rutgers on Nov. 19 for the lowest by any opponent this season.

The four also ties for the fewest UT has ever allowed in an opening frame (Georgia, 2/28/16) and ties for the fifth-fewest surrendered in all quarters by a foe.

A Look At The Gators

Florida features the trio of Leilani Correa (16.0), KK Deans (14.5) and Nina Rickards (13.8) averaging double figures in points. Correa, however, has been out of the lineup since last playing Dec. 11 vs. Miami.

UF holds foes to 36.7 FG pct. and 63.7 ppg.

The Gators grab 9.2 steals per contest.

Florida’s Last Game

Florida fell to No. 23/18 Oklahoma on December 22nd at the Jumpman Invitational in Charlotte, NC, 95-79.

KK Deans led the Gators (11-2, 0-0 SEC) with an impressive 28 points, including seven made threes, to go along with a career-best nine assists. Ra Shaya Kyle contributed 16 points and 13 rebounds, while Nina Rickards put up 15 points.

For the game, the Gators shot 26-of-63 (41.3%) from the field and 11-of-26 (42.3%) behind the arc. Oklahoma (10-1, 0-0 Big 12) shot 36-of-84 (42.9%) from the floor and 12-of-28 (42.9%) on threes.

UT/UF Notes

Tennessee is 22-3 all-time in games played in Gainesville, winning in 13 of the past 15 visits.

UT is 24-2 vs. UF in games played in Knoxville, 8-0 at neutral sites and 3-1 in overtime contests vs the Gators, including 3-0 in Gainesville in those extra-frame affairs.

The Tennessee Lady Vol record for most free throws made in a game (40-46) came at Florida on 2/3/05.

Tamari Key’s 10 blocks vs. Florida in Knoxville on January 31st, 2021, as part of a triple-double rank as the second-most ever swatted in a game by a Lady Vol.

Last Meeting Between UT, UF

No. 7/7 Tennessee couldn’t overcome a hot-handed Florida squad that shot a season-best 53.2 percent, falling 84-59 in Exactech Arena on February 3rd, 2022.

Alexus Dye led UT with 10 points, while Rae Burrell and Tess Darby scored nine points each.

Kiara Smith was the high scorer for Florida with 25 points, while Nina Rickards added 16.

Next Up For UT Women’s Basketball

The Tennessee Lady Vols basketball team plays its SEC home opener vs. Alabama on Sunday at 11:00am CT/noon ET.

The New Year’s Day matinee will be televised by SEC Network.

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