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#3 Lady Vols set to face #2 S. Carolina in SEC Tourney semifinals

No. 1 seed Texas A&M and No. 4 seed Georgia will meet in the other semifinal round match-up
Rennia Davis
Rennia Davis(Tony Walsh | Tennessee Athletic Communications)
Published: Mar. 6, 2021 at 10:35 AM EST
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - The 14th ranked Tennessee Lady Vols (16-6, 9-4 SEC), the No. 3 seed in Greenville, SC, has advanced to the semifinal round of the SEC Tournament and will meet 7th ranked South Carolina (20-4, 14-2 SEC), the No. 2 seed, at approximately 6:30 p.m. Saturday night at Bon Secours Wellness Arena. No. 1 seed Texas A&M and No. 4 seed Georgia will meet in the other semifinal round match-up at 4 p.m. ET on Saturday.

The Lady Vols will be making their first appearance in the SEC semifinal round since 2016, when they did so in Jacksonville, Fla., before falling to Mississippi State, 58-48. UT will be trying to advance to Sunday for the first time since 2015, when it fell to South Carolina in the championship game in North Little Rock, Arkansas, 62-46. Tennessee won the previous match-up between these teams earlier this season, overcoming a 16-point deficit to take a 75-67 decision over the Gamecocks on Feb. 18.The Lady Vols are 3-2 all-time vs. South Carolina in SEC Tournament play, winning the first three meetings and dropping the last two in 2015 and 2018.

BROADCAST INFORMATION

  • ESPNU will televise Saturday’s game, with Courtney Lyle (PxP), Carolyn Peck (Analyst) Steffi Sorensen (Reporter) on the call.
  • All of the games included in the ESPN package (ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU) and the SEC Network 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 game can also can be heard on Lady Vol Network radio stations and by audio stream, with Mickey Dearstone behind the microphone. Now calling the action for his 22nd season, Dearstone is joined by studio host Bobby Rader.
  • A link to the live audio stream can be found on each game’s Hoops Central page or the Lady Vol schedule on UTSports.com.

TENNESSEE IN THE SEC TOURNAMENT

  • Tennessee is seeking to capture its league-leading 18th SEC Tournament championship trophy. UT was victorious in 1980, 1985, 1988, 1989, 1992, 1994, 1996, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2014.
  • The Lady Vols were runners-up on six occasions, including 1982, 1990, 1991, 1995, 2003 and 2015.
  • UT last advanced to the title game in 2014 and 2015, winning in 2014 as a #2 seed, 71-70, over #4 Kentucky and falling as a #2 seed to #1 South Carolina, 62-46, in 2015.
  • Tennessee enters Saturday night’s game with an 81-24 (.771) all-time record in the 42nd year of the SEC Tournament.
  • UT is 23-10 all-time in SEC Semifinal games.
  • The Lady Vols are 37-5 all-time in their opening game of the SEC Tournament and are 26-10 in their second contest of the tourney.

SEC TOURNAMENT EXPERIENCE

  • This marks the SEC Tournament debut for four Lady Vols, including Tess DarbyDestiny Salary, Marta Suárez and Jordan Walker.
  • This is the second SEC Tournament for Kellie Harper and her coaching staff while at Tennessee. UT was 1-1 in 2019-20 and 1-0 this season.
  • Kellie Harper had an 11-1 record at the SEC Tournament during her time as a student-athlete at UT with postseason tournament titles in 1996, 1998 and 1999. The only loss was in the 1997 semifinals.
  • Rennia Davis has averaged 16.6 ppg. in seven career SEC Tournament games, tallying 16 and five vs. Auburn and South Carolina in 2018, 19 and 16 vs. LSU and Mississippi State in 2019 and 15 and 14 vs. Missouri and Kentucky in 2020; and 33 vs. Ole Miss in 2021.
  • Jordan Horston is averaging 14.0 ppg. in SEC Tourney play after scoring six and 24 vs. Missouri and Kentucky last season and 12 vs. Ole Miss this time around.

TENNESSEE IN SEC PLAY

  • UT is 414-88 (.825) in SEC regular-season games through the Auburn match-up, winning 18 regular-season championships and capturing 17 SEC tourney titles.
  • Tennessee Head Coach Kellie Harper is 19-10 in SEC games in her second year leading the team and has a 2-1 record in SEC Tourney play.
  • The Lady Vols (projected sixth in preseason polls) have beaten three teams ranked above them in the 2020-21 SEC Coaches and Media Polls, including No. 1/1 selection South Carolina, No. 2/3 pick Kentucky and No. 4/5 selection Arkansas.
  • UT tied for third a year ago and finished third outright this season, marking its best back-to-back outcomes in league play since taking second in 2013-14 and first in 2014-15.

RECAPPING UT’S LAST GAME

  • The No. 14/16 Lady Vols fended off an upset-minded Ole Miss team in the SEC Tournament Quarterfinals at Bon Secours Wellness Arena on Friday night, winning 77-72 to advance to the semifinals for the first time since 2016.
  • No. 3 seed Tennessee (16-6) was led by senior Rennia Davis, who turned in a career-high-tying 33 points and added 14 rebounds to record her sixth-straight game with 20+ points and her ninth double-double of the season. Junior Rae Burrell was also in double digits with 18 points and seven rebounds, and sophomore Jordan Horston had a solid outing with 12 points, seven rebounds and five assists.
  • Top scorers for Ole Miss (11-11), the No. 11 seed that had already ousted sixth-seeded #13/13 Arkansas on Thursday, were Donnetta Johnson with 20 points, Shakira Austin with 14, and Jacorriah Bracey with 13.

SERIES NOTES VS. SOUTH CAROLINA

  • UT enters Saturday’s contest with a 51-9 advantage in the series, including 21-3 in Columbia, 23-3 in Knoxville and 7-3 at neutral sites.
  • Tennessee is 5-3 vs. USC during the postseason and is 1-0 in overtime, taking a 79-73 extra-frame decision over the Gamecocks in the Palmetto State on Feb. 15, 1996. UT is 3-2 vs. USC in the SEC Tourney.
  • Since 2012, the series has been very streaky. UT won three straight, then USC took three in a row. After the Lady Vols claimed three consecutive wins, South Carolina made it three in a row. To continue the trend, UT put up a “W” on Feb. 18.
  • Kellie Harper has a 2-4 record vs. South Carolina as a head coach. She was 0-1 while at Western Carolina, and 1-2 while at NC State, beating the Gamecocks, 55-53, in Raleigh on Dec. 4, 2011. She stands 1-1 while at UT, winning the latest match-up in 2021.
  • In the other two contests, both on the road, NC State suffered a 74-71 setback on Dec. 13, 2009, and a 77-63 loss on Dec. 12, 2010.
  • Harper was 5-0 vs. USC as a player, participating in the only overtime game between these schools in 1996.
  • Since 2010, USC has won five and UT four SEC regular-season titles, with UT winning or sharing in 2010, 2011, 2013 and 2015 and USC doing so in 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2020.
  • After defeating South Carolina, the regular season SEC champs at 14-2, the 13-3 Lady Vols went on to claim the 2014 SEC Tournament title in Duluth, Ga.
  • Tennessee lost to South Carolina, 64-60, on Feb. 2, 2012, in Knoxville, but rebounded to defeat USC in the 2012 SEC Tournament semifinals in Nashville, 74-58, en route to its 16th SEC postseason championship.

ABOUT SOUTH CAROLINA

  • UT is led by the trio of Zia Cooke (16.2 ppg.), Aliyah Boston (13.1 ppg., 11.8 rpg.) and Destanni Henderson (12.3 ppg.).
  • Cooke and Boston made the All-SEC First Team and Boston was Co-Defensive Player of the Year.
  • The Gamecocks’ only losses in SEC play are to Tennessee and Texas A&M. Non-conference foes N.C. State and UConn also defeated South Carolina.

THE LAST TIME UT & USC MET

  • Senior Rennia Davis turned in 24 second-half points, as No. 21/21 Tennessee erased a 16-point second-quarter deficit to beat No. 2/3 South Carolina in Thompson-Boling Arena, 75-67, on Feb. 18.
  • The win snapped a 31-game SEC win streak for the Gamecocks and marked UT’s first victory over a top-five team since taking an 82-75 win over No. 2/4 Texas, 82-75, in Knoxville on Dec. 10, 2017.
  • Davis added 12 rebounds to record the 36th double-double of her career. Junior Rae Burrell was also in double figures for Tennessee (13-5, 7-3 SEC) with 19 points, and sophomore Jordan Horston pitched in 12 points and five assists.
  • South Carolina (17-3, 12-1 SEC) was led by Aliyah Boston, who posted a double-double with 17 points and 16 rebounds. Zia Cooke and Destanni Henderson added 15 each.

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