After several consecutive seasons of up and down basketball, the Tennessee Lady Vols certainly appear to be back. Sitting at 17-1, Kellie Harper has her team believing in year three.
On Sunday, they whipped a ranked Kentucky team to the tune of 84-58 — a fitting start to the beginning of ‘We Back Pat’ week.
Tennessee trailed after one quarter of play, 17-11, but an offensive explosion in the second put away the 19th ranked Wildcats. The Lady Vols scored 27 points in the second period, holding Kentucky to just ten.
The halftime lead was 38-27, and Tennessee wasn’t interested in letting up. Rae Burrell connected on all four of her three-point attempts, while Tess Darby hit 3-6. Jordan Horston, Jordan Walker and Keyen Green each ended up in double figures.
The Lady Vols doubled their lead in the third quarter, scoring 26 more and holding Kentucky to just 16. The blowout was on from there, as Tennessee picked up another really good win in convincing fashion.
The story of the game was three-point shooters, where Tennessee shot 50 percent to power the win.
“We have put a lot of work in,” Kellie Harper said. “Our team is getting in and getting a lot of shots up, both at the free throw line and elsewhere. You know, at some point, you’re going to have a game where you shoot the ball well, and tonight was obviously that.”
The Lady Vols now have a week off before traveling to Athens to face No. 17 Georgia on Sunday. Down the road over the next few weeks, road matchups with No. 1 South Carolina and No. 10 UConn loom large as Tennessee continues its hunt for a No. 1 seed.
They’ve already made a strong case at 17-1 overall, with wins over Texas, South Florida, Texas A&M and Kentucky. Stanford, ranked third, remains as their only loss to this point.
Tennessee is a projected No. 2 seed in ESPN’s latest bracketology run.
Junior center Tamari Key exited the game in the second quarter and did not return. It was an ankle injury for Key, who now does at least get seven days off to rest and heal. Harper called her ‘day to day’ following the game.