Lady Vols stay perfect in league play with win over Georgia

The ladies also debuted their Summitt Legacy series Summitt Blue uniforms, capping the afternoon off with a strong 13-point win.
Published: Jan. 15, 2023 at 7:54 PM EST|Updated: Jan. 15, 2023 at 10:47 PM EST
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - Tennessee improved to 6-0 in Southeastern Conference play on Sunday, defeating Georgia 68-55 in front of a packed Thompson-Boling Arena sporting the largest crowd of the season for the Lady Vols.

Sunday, the ladies also debuted their Summitt Legacy series Summitt Blue uniforms, capping the afternoon off with a strong 13-point win.

The Lady Vols won their seventh straight game and claimed victory for the 12th time in their last 14 contests, remaining in a tie for first place in the league standings.

LVFL Candace Parker was also in attendance to catch this debut, an appearance that was truly special for the team.

LVFL Candace Parker in attendance for Georgia game
LVFL Candace Parker in attendance for Georgia game(wvlt)

“Yeah, first off, we love Candace (Parker) and love that she continues to be a part of this program,” said Lady Vols head coach Kellie Harper. “She’s one of the greatest to do it ever, and she is ours.”

Graduate guard Jordan Walker added, “I think it is really important, and it is definitely special. I thought that it was awesome that they could come back, especially Candace Parker. We know she is busy with her own schedule, but to just make time to come back and talk to us, it’s an amazing feeling. I think it says a lot about the program and who we are as people. The energy today was awesome. Coach Harper said you could really feel it on the court, so shout out to the fans for coming and bringing that energy.”

Senior Rickea Jackson was the game’s high scorer with 23 points, her eighth 20+ point performance of the season and fifth during SEC play. She is now averaging 22.7 ppg against conference foes through six games.

Junior Tess Darby was also in double digits for Tennessee, tying her season high of 16. She has finished in double figures five times this season. It’s also the 12th contest in which she’s hit multiple treys.

Graduate Jordan Walker dished out eight assists for the second straight game, tying her season-high set at Texas A&M.

The Lady Vols opened the afternoon on a 7-0 run and would go on a 15-2 run near the end of the first quarter. The Lady Vols closed out the period with a 6-2 run to lead 21-8 at the end of the first.

Tennessee opened the second half with three consecutive 3-pointers each by a different Lady Vol, first by Jordan Walker then Darby then Karoline Striplin to mount a 9-2 run.

Darby spoke about the importance of a strong second-half start.

“That’s one of the things that we kind of struggled on, so just hitting the open threes and getting the energy and momentum coming our way. But you also have to respect everyone, that goes to show that anyone and everyone on our team can step up and shoot on them,” Darby said.

UT maintained a 21-point lead through the 3:13 mark when five straight points by UGA cut the deficit to 18. The teams traded free throws until the closing minute, when Georgia closed out the quarter with back-to-back buckets to send the game into the last frame with the Big Orange leading 55-39.

Despite a low-scoring fourth quarter, Tennessee held off Georgia to win 68-55.

Harper contributed their wins to the team settling into their roles.

“We want them doing things that they’re good at so they can find success. They’re also kind of embracing who they are and what their roles are for this team. And they’re not just embracing their own roles, they’re embracing their teammates’ roles. They know to get the ball to Rickea Jackson, they understand where she needs the ball. They understand what Jordan Walker is doing for us right now. She is tough as nails right now and handling the ball, taking charges, guarding the best perimeter player, rebounding - she’s doing a lot for us,” Harper said.

SEC play continues for Tennessee when Florida comes to town. Tipoff is slated for 6:30 p.m.. streamed on SECN+.