Key’s triple-double propels No. 20 Lady Vols past Gators, 79-65
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (UT Athletics) – Sophomore Tamari Key turned in a triple-double to lead No. 20/22 Tennessee to a 79-65 win over Florida in Thompson-Boling Arena on Sunday.
Key totaled 23 points, 10 rebounds and 10 blocks, setting career highs in both points and blocks. It marks just the fourth triple-double in Lady Vol history, and the first since Jordan Reynolds notched one against UNCW on Dec. 29, 2016. Junior Rae Burrell also eclipsed the 20-point scoring mark for Tennessee (12-3, 6-1 SEC) with 21, while senior Rennia Davis finished with 14.
Florida (9-8, 2-7 SEC) was led by Kiara Smith and Lavender Briggs who each had 23. Smith added 10 rebounds to her point total to record a double-double.
Key came out hot, notching four points and a block in the first minute to give UT an early 4-2 lead. Florida bounced back and took the lead off a Smith free throw a minute and a half in and stretched it to seven points off back-to-back treys by Briggs before Burrell answered with a jumper to make the score 11-6 at the 6:52 mark. Burrell hit a pair of free throws to cut the deficit to three before the media break and picked up where she left off afterward, knocking down a 10-foot jumper on Tennessee’s first possession following the timeout. Briggs and Smith combined to build Florida’s lead back up to five with 1:51 left in the quarter, but Key and Jordan Walker combined to cut it to two with the Lady Vols trailing 21-19 at the end of the first.
Smith scored on a fast break at the outset of the second, but UT tied it up at 23-all two minutes into the period and reclaimed the lead 30 seconds later off a Horston jumper. Kasiyahna Kushkituah stretched the Lady Vols’ advantage to four points before Smith ended the drought for UF, making the score 27-25 at the media timeout. Briggs tied it up after the media break, but Kushkituah answered with a bucket on the next play, setting off a 7-0 run that put the Big Orange up 34-27 with just under two minutes left in the half. Tennessee would maintain a seven-point lead through the end of the half, taking a 38-31 advantage into halftime.
Davis got things started in the second half, scoring on a turnaround jumper 45 seconds in. The teams traded baskets through the opening minutes until Burrell set off a 6-0 run that put UT up by 13 at the 6:35 mark. Smith cut it to single digits with a pair of free throws for the Gators three minutes later, but Davis hit two free throws to stretch UT’s lead back to 11 on the next play, pushing the score to 56-45 with 3:01 left in the period. Briggs responded with a trey, and UF closed out the quarter with a 9-2 run to send the game into the final stanza with the Big Orange leading, 58-54.
Florida kept the pressure on in the fourth, pulling within one point by the 6:45 mark off a Smith fast-break layup, but Davis, Key and Burrell combined for six quick points to put the Lady Vols back up 66-59 by the final media timeout. Key and Burrell added two points each following the break to stretch the run to 10-0 and give UT an 11-point lead with 3:42 to go. Brynn Farrell hit two treys for UF in the closing minutes, but Tennessee poured in nine more points to earn a 79-65 victory.
Up Next: Tennessee hits the road to face No. 21 Mississippi State in a 7 p.m. CT/8 p.m. ET matchup that will be streamed on SECN+.
Block Party: Sophomore Tamari Key blocked a career-high 10 shots against Florida, landing in the record book at number two for the most shots blocked in a game by a Lady Vol behind only Kelley Cain’s 12 blocked shots against LSU on Feb. 22, 2010. That is the third time her name appears on the list, with her previous career high of nine blocked shots at South Carolina on Feb. 2, 2020, ranking number three all-time, and her seven blocked shots against Kentucky on March 6, 2020, tying for sixth.
Elite Company: Key’s triple-double is just the fourth in program history. She joins the ranks of Jordan Reynolds (14 rebounds, 11 points, 10 assists vs. UNCW on Dec. 29, 2016), Shekinna Stricklen (17 points, 13 rebounds, 12 assists vs. Oklahoma on Jan. 3, 2010) and Shelia Collins (18 points, 10 rebounds, 10 steals vs. Florida State on Feb. 8, 1985).
Cleaning The Glass: The Lady Vols outrebounded the Gators 57-42, turning that season-high total of rebounds into 22 second-chance points. UT has now outrebounded every opponent this season and holds a 46.6 rpg. to 31.8 rpg per game advantage.
Stopping Them In The Fourth: Florida stars Kiara Smith and Lavender Briggs each finished with 23 points, but Tennessee held the duo to only two combined points in the final stanza. Smith was one of five shooting in the fourth period for two points, while Briggs was zero for five in the final frame. That effort enabled UT to outscore the Gators 21-11 in the fourth and claim the win.