UT Takes SEC Opener Over No. 13 Arkansas 88-73

Rennia Davis – Lady Vols / Credit: UT Athletics

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee opened SEC play with a victory over No. 13/13 Arkansas at home on Thursday night, winning 88-73 via an impressive 53.6 shooting percentage.

Senior Rennia Davis and junior Rae Burrell paced UT (7-1, 1-0 SEC), each turning in 26 points. Davis recorded her 33rd career double-double with an all-around effort, adding 11 rebounds, five assists and two steals to go along with her season-high point total. Senior Kasiyahna Kushkituah and sophomore Jordan Horston were also in double digits, chipping in 11 each.

UA (10-3, 1-2 SEC) was led by Chelsea Dungee who finished with 30 points and seven rebounds. Destiny Slocum and Amber Ramirez were also in double digits with 17 and 15, respectively.

Marta Suarez put Tennessee on the board first with a layup in the first 30 seconds, but Arkansas wasted no time catching up with Daniels pouring in five straight points and Ramirez topping it off with a layup to put the Razorback up 7-2 just over two minutes into the game. Burrell heated up two minutes later, scoring on back-to-back possessions to pull UT within one at 9-8 by the media break. Dungee hit a layup immediately following the break to stretch UA’s lead to three, but Davis followed it up with a layup of her own, setting off an 8-0 run to put UT up by five with just over a minute left in the quarter. Arkansas closed out the period with five straight points to trail by just one, heading into the second at 18-17.

Both sides came out of the break hot, with each team scoring on its first three possessions. Arkansas hit three straight treys while Tennessee countered with seven points of its own before forcing two stops that Davis and Burrell punctuated with buckets on the other end, putting the Lady Vols up 29-26 by the 7:26 mark. Dungee broke the drought for the Razorbacks, converting on an old-fashioned three-point play and following it up with a single free throw on the next possession to give Arkansas a one-point lead. Burrell converted on a jumper just before the media timeout, and Kushkituah followed it up after the break, fueling an 8-0 run that put the Lady Vols up 37-30 with 3:23 remaining in the half. UA rallied back with five straight points from Dungee and Ramirez, but Burrell responded by knocking down a contested trey, and Davis followed it up with a layup on the next possession to put UT back up by seven with a halftime score of 42-35.

Tennessee carried its momentum through to the second half as Burrell and Tamari Key combined for the first five points of the period, stretching UT’s lead to 12 by the 8:11 mark. Dungee converted on a three-point play and followed it up with a trey on the next possession to single-handedly fuel a 6-2 Arkansas run that made the score 49-41 with seven minutes remaining in the quarter. The teams then traded buckets until Jordan Walker knocked down a trey with just over four minutes remaining. Davis followed it up with a fast-break layup, and Horston capped it off with a block that resulted in three points on the other end, moving the score to 60-44 less than a minute later. Slocum countered with a trey for the Razorbacks, but Kushkituah hit a layup and Burrell came up with the steal and the score on the next possession to stretch the margin to 17. UA rallied back within 12 with one minute to go, but
Burrell and Davis closed out the quarter with a combined six points while holding the Razorbacks to three to send the game into the final stanza with a score of 70-55.

Arkansas kicked off the fourth with five quick points by Slocum and Taylah Thomas, but Davis hit a layup to set off a 6-0 run that put the Lady Vols back up by 16 with 6:27 to play. UT would build its lead to as many as 20 before Arkansas rallied back with a 7-0 run to pull within 13 with just under two minutes to go. Tennessee, however, closed things out with a comfortable advantage, winning 88-73.

Up Next: Tennessee hits the road to face LSU on Sunday in a 1 p.m. CT/2 p.m. ET matchup. The game will be streamed on SECN+.

Dominating the Paint: The Lady Vols out-rebounded the Razorbacks 49-36 and outscored them in the paint, 52-20. Tennessee has now out-rebounded every opponent, besting them by an average of 48.8 to 32.1.

“Re” Making Moves: Rennia Davis’ 26 points moved her past the 1,500-point mark to a total of 1,512 career points, surpassing Daedra Charles (1,495), Michelle Snow (1,497), Gwen Jackson (1,508) and Bashaara Graves (1,509) to move into 20th place on UT’s all-time scoring list. Additionally, she recorded 11 rebounds to push her career total to 803 and become just the 19th Lady Vol to join the 800-rebound club.

Big-Time Bench Play: Tennessee’s bench outscored UA’s bench, 20-0. It’s the seventh time this season UT’s bench has outscored the opponents’ and the first time it has held an opponent’s reserves scoreless.

Defense Limits High-Scoring Razorbacks: Coming into the contest, Arkansas owned a scoring average of 88.9 ppg. while holding opponents to just 70.3 ppg. The Lady Vols basically flipped the script in beating UA, 88-73. The 73-point total was the Razorbacks’ lowest of the season. A big reason for the lower total was UT limiting Arkansas to only 31.9 percent shooting from the field. It was the seventh time in eight games the Lady Vols had held an opponent to 32 percent or lower.

Another Happy Opener: Tennessee improved to 33-6 all-time in SEC openers, including 18-3 at home. It marked the Lady Vols’ seventh straight victory in a league opener, improved UT to 5-0 vs. Arkansas in conference lid-lifters and pushed the Big Orange’s all-time series margin to 31-5 vs. the Razorbacks.

Make It Two Wins Over Top-15 Teams: After defeating No. 15/15 Indiana in Bloomington, 66-58, on Dec. 17, the Lady Vols picked up their second win over a ranked team with the 88-73 triumph over No. 13/13 Arkansas. It marked the first time Tennessee had recorded two or more victories over a ranked opponent in the same season since 2017-18.

-UT Athletics

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