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Harrison Down: Tennessee Lady Vols 72, Kentucky 58

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A 70-56 win against Kentucky was marred by Isabelle Harrison re-injuring her knee and a Jordan Reynolds injury.

Kentucky (bright pink) and Tennessee (less bright pink) crowd around a downed Harrison
Kentucky (bright pink) and Tennessee (less bright pink) crowd around a downed Harrison
Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

Okay, so that one thing we weren't going to talk about--what happens if anyone from the Lady Vols goes down--happened. Isabelle Harrison re-injured her knee early in the second half. This was the same knee (and MCL) that kept her out of a few games earlier in the season, and the thing you don't want to happen occurred. She got caught coming back down from a rebound attempt by a Kentucky defender who had established position underneath her. More importantly, she had established position underneath her knee.

We don't know the extent of Harrison's injury, but from what I saw, I'd be impressed if she came back this year. That would put her along Jasmine Jones, who I'm guessing is also done for the year although I don't recall hearing anything. It would definitely put her alongside Mercedes Russell and Diamond DeSheilds (who, to be fair, is out this year due to transfer rules that require players to sit out for a year but let coaches do whatever they want). Stop me if you've found a theme.

Jordan Reynolds played a few minutes in the first half before getting subbed out; I don't know the extent of this injury either but it didn't seem to be that significant during the game.

I mean, the win against Kentucky matters, but the injuries matter more. We need to recalibrate:

  • Tennessse's on the 2 seed line now. That's fine, and I'm assuming at this point they don't beat South Carolina. (Want to prove me wrong? Comment section is down there.) I don't think the bottom drops out, but they're facing at best two losses to South Carolina before the tournament (and possibly one plus someone on the 3-6 line in the SEC Tournament). Frankly, that's fine; Tennessee sans Harrison isn't a 1 seed. That being said: Sweet 16 is still reachable; more than that is going to depend on what happens with the rest of the team.
  • Hope you're ready, Jamie Nared / Nia Moore / Alexa Middleton / possibly even Jannah Tucker. All hands on deck now. Nared had been playing more these last few games and I don't see her dropping below 20 minutes/game the rest of the way. Ariel Massengale (17 points, 5 boards, 4 assists) and Nared (10 points, 4 boards) in particular were more evident post-injury than I've seen them both in a little while, which is an encouraging sign.
  • Bashaara Graves is about to become interior option 1. Tennessee was always likely to play smaller next season, but they're not going to have much of a choice right now. Carolyn Peck had a good idea on the broadcast: move Cierra Burdick to the 4, start Ariel Massengale. I'd be fine with Burdick at the 4, but Graves is going to need to make hay inside now and there really isn't another option. Burdick's shot selection should be a little easier at the 4 than the 3--she struggles outside 15 feet away from the corners--so offensively they can still cobble something together.
  • It's still all about South Carolina. There are other conference games around South Carolina, but Tennessee should be able to win them, setting up South Carolina for the SEC.
  • Refs are going to have to find someone else to not call fouls for when faced with overly physical defense. MAYBE IF HARRISON ISN'T GETTING OBLITERATED ON A NIGHTLY BASIS THIS DOESN'T HAPPEN. Ahem. Yes, I know this is me arguing for more interior policing. Give me some time, okay?
Anyway, the season's not over. Alabama's in Knoxville on Thursday, then South Carolina at 9 PM next Monday.