KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT)-- No. 8 seed Tennessee (18-11, 7-9 SEC) will meet No. 9 seed LSU (16-12, 7-9 SEC) at noon on Thursday in the second round of the SEC Tournament.
Tip-off is slated for 12:02 p.m. ET at Bon Secours Wellness Arena in Greenville, S.C., for a contest that is being televised by the SEC Network and carried by the Lady Vol Radio Network and SiriusXM Radio. The winner of Thursday's game will advance to face No. 1 seed Mississippi State (27-2, 15-1 SEC) at noon on Friday.
The Lady Vols closed out the regular season on Sunday with a dominant 81-56 victory at Ole Miss, moving from 10th to 8th in the SEC standings. After a tough six-game losing skid in January, which included four SEC losses by a combined total of nine points, Tennessee has won six of its last 10 games.
After a surge that saw it win four of five games in early February, LSU enters tourney play having lost its last three contests. The Lady Tigers are coming off a 56-46 home setback vs. Auburn on Sunday in which they were held to single digits in the second and third quarters.
Tennessee and LSU are meeting for the 65th time, with the Big Orange leading the series, 49-15. This will mark the 14th meeting between UT and LSU in the SEC Tournament. The Lady Vols own a 9-4 record in tourney play vs. the Lady Tigers.
Courtney Lyle (play-by-play), Tamika Catchings (analyst) and Steffi Sorensen (sideline) will have the call for the SEC Network.
Mickey Dearstone is behind the microphone for IMG College/Lady Vol Network radio/online broadcasts for the 20th season. 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.
Air time for games on the Lady Vol Radio Network generally occurs 30 minutes prior to tip-off.
The SEC Radio Network will broadcast all games during the tournament and can be heard on Sirius 138, XM 191 and Online 962.
UT-LSU SERIES NOTES
UT enters the 65th meeting in the series with a 49-15 edge, including a 22-3 record in Knoxville, 15-8 slate in Baton Rouge and a 12-4 mark at neutral sites. Tennessee has won 12 of the last 16 games, but UT and LSU have split the past four.
Holly Warlick owns a 6-3 record against Nikki Fargas as a head coach. Fargas is the only former Lady Vol player to ever hand Warlick a loss as a head coach.
The Lady Vols are 1-1 vs. LSU in overtime games. The last time the two teams went to OT was on March 1, 1997. Tennessee won the game 100-99 to advance to the semifinals of the SEC tournament.
The last time these programs met in the SEC Tournament was on March 7, 2014, in Duluth, Ga. Then No. 6 Tennessee earned a 77-65 victory over the Lady Tigers in the quarterfinals and ended up winning the championship.
RELIABLE RENNIA: Rennia Davis is a consistent scorer, hitting double figures a team-high 23 times, including the past 10 games. She's also solid on the boards, leading the team in rebounds on 14 occasions (2nd on the team) and tallying a team-high eight double-doubles this season.
DISHIN' & SWISHIN': Evina Westbrook is tops in leading her team in scoring (12 times) and in assists (22 times). She has tallied five or more dimes in 18 games, including a total of nine in the win vs. Ole Miss on Sunday.
LONDON RISING: Cheridene Green has doubled her scoring and rebounding averages in all games from 4.1 and 3.7 last year to 9.2 ppg. and 7.6 rpg. this season. She's been even better in SEC games, producing 10.3 ppg. and 8.8 rpg.
STEPPING UP TO SCORE: UT has had five different players lead the team in scoring in five of its past six games. Zaay Green, Evina Westbrook (twice), Rennia Davis, Cheridene Green and Meme Jackson have answered the call.
WHAT IT TAKES TO WIN: Tennessee has allowed only 61.0 ppg. in its seven SEC wins this season and is surrendering 77.7 ppg. in its league losses. UT is standing at +13.0 in rebounding and shooting .763 at the free throw line in conference victories while possessing a +4.4 board edge and a .673 free throw rate in SEC losses.
STRONG ON THE BOARDS: UT has won the rebounding battle in 24 of 29 games, including 14 of 16 SEC contests (MSU, VU).
SO MUCH BETTER AT THE LINE: UT has improved its free throw shooting so much this year, hitting at a .675 rate in the non-conference schedule and warming up to a .717 percentage in league play.
THREE-POINT BARRAGE: Tennessee hit eight threes vs. Ole Miss, its first game with six or more since Jan. 3 at Auburn. Meme Jackson was a big part of Sunday's long-range success, knocking down five on six shots for her biggest game since that Jan. 3 Auburn contest. It ignited UT's offense.
TENNESSEE IN THE SEC TOURNAMENT
Tennessee enters Thursday's game with a 78-22 (.780) all-time record in the 40th year of the SEC Tournament. UT is 34-5 all-time in its opening game of the SEC Tournament. UT was a No. 7 seed a year ago and is playing as a No. 8 seed for the first time.
Tennessee is seeking to capture its league-leading 18th SEC 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 has advanced to the title game in two of the past five seasons, 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.
The Big Orange women are 23-6 in SEC Tournament play since 2007-08.
Holly Warlick has forged a 9-5 record in SEC Tournament games as a head coach, including 1-1 in title games.
Tennessee has had 15 SEC Tournament MVPs through the years, with a Lady Vol winning four of the last eight awards.
Isabelle Harrison (2014), Glory Johnson (2012), Shekinna Stricklen (2011) and Alyssia Brewer (2010) were the past four MVPs from Tennessee.
Current assistant coach Bridgette Gordon was a two-time SEC All-Tournament selection (1988, 1989), claiming MVP honors in 1989.
UT head coach Holly Warlick was a senior point guard on the Lady Vol team that won the very first SEC Tournament title in 1980, defeating Ole Miss, 85-71, at Stokely Athletics Center in Knoxville.
PREVIOUS VISITS TO GREENVILLE
This marks the third time Greenville has played host to the SEC Tournament. No. 2 seed Tennessee defeated #1 seed LSU in the tourney title game, 67-56, on March 6, 2005, the first time the event was held here.
Shyra Ely was named the SEC Tournament MVP that year, while Shanna Zolman and Brittany Jackson joined her on the all-tournament team. UT beat Auburn in the second round (64-54) and Vanderbilt in the semifinals (76-73) that year. The last trip to Greenville was a short visit for the Lady Vols, as they fell to Alabama, 72-64, in the second round on March 2, 2017.
LADY TIGER NOTES
LSU is led by eighth-year head coach Nikki Fargas.
Before she was married, Fargas was known as Nikki Caldwell. She played at Tennessee (1990-94) and was on the staff as a graduate assistant (1998-99) and assistant (2002-08). She won titles as a player (1991) and as an assistant coach (2007, 2008).
UT's Holly Warlick was an assistant on UT's staff during Fargas' time as a player and coach. Assistant Tasha Butts played at UT (2000-04) and was a graduate assistant there as well (2004-05).
Ayana Mitchell is a first-team All-SEC performer. Mitchell leads the Lady Tigers in scoring (13.4 ppg) and rebounding (10.5 rpg), followed by Khayla Pointer at 12.2 ppg. and 4.5 apg. LSU finished 19-19 overall (11-5 SEC) last season and lost in the NCAA First Round.
The Tigers lost leading scorers Chloe Jackson (18.1 ppg.), who went to Baylor as a graduate transfer, and senior Raigyne Louis (16.1 ppg.).
THE LAST TIME WE MET
Sophomore Rennia Davis tied her season high of 24 points to power the Lady Vols past LSU, 74-65, on Jan. 27, 2019, at Thompson-Boling Arena for their annual "Live Pink, Bleed Orange" game.
Sophomore center Kasiyahna Kushkituah added a career-high 14 points and eight rebounds, while Zaay Green finished with 10 points and five assists. Davis also racked up seven rebounds while notching her fourth 20+ point game of the season. True freshman Jazmine Massengill also registered a career-best 12 points. Meme Jackson due to an ankle to injury.
Tennessee (13-7, 2-5 SEC) forced 25 turnovers, recorded 44 points in the paint and grabbed 19 offensive rebounds in the win.
The Tigers (12-7, 3-4 SEC) had three players with double-digit points, with guard Khayla Pointer leading the pack with 17 points and five assists. LSU junior forward Ayana Mitchell logged a double-double of 12 points and 10 rebounds.
LAST UT-LSU GAME AT SEC TOURNEY
Isabelle Harrison scored 21 points, Meighan Simmons and Bashaara Graves each added 14 and No. 6 Tennessee used an overpowering late run to beat LSU 77-65 in the quarterfinals of the Southeastern Conference tournament on March 7, 2014.
UT, spurred by a 19-0 second-half run, came back from a 15-point first-half deficit to overtake the Lady Tigers, tying the team's biggest rally of the year. Theresa Plaisance finished with 21 points and Danielle Ballard scored 15 for LSU (19-12).