No. 5 Lady Vols stay perfect in SEC play, defeat No. 13 Georgia
ATHENS, Ga. (UT Athletics) – The No. 5/6 Lady Vols picked up their fifth AP Top-25 win of the season on Sunday afternoon, defeating No. 13/13 Georgia in Stegeman Coliseum, 63-55.
Tennessee, the only team undefeated in conference play, is enjoying its best start to a season since the 2007-08 campaign when the squad started 22-1 en route to SEC and NCAA championships. The Big Orange women have now reeled off nine straight wins and nine straight conference wins, dating back to last season. They also won their seventh straight SEC road contest, with their last setback coming last season at Georgia.
Junior Jordan Horston turned in her ninth double-double of the season and fourth in five games to lead Tennessee (18-1, 7-0 SEC) with 19 points and 11 rebounds. Senior Rae Burrell was also in double digits with 13.
Jenna Staiti was the high scorer for UGA (15-4, 4-3 SEC) with 16, while Que Morrison was close behind with 14.
Alexus Dye put UT up early with back-to-back buckets before Staiti knocked down a trey to get UGA on the board two minutes and 45 seconds into play. Horston responded with a layup, but Morrison scored on the fast break to set off a 10-3 run that put the Bulldogs ahead 13-9 with 2:35 left in the first. Key ended the skid with a layup, and Staiti scored three straight points before Burrell added a layup just ahead of the buzzer to send the game into the second with Tennessee trailing 16-13.
Morrison stretched Georgia’s lead to six with a 3-pointer on the first possession of the second quarter. Horston made a layup on the other end, but Malury Bates and Reigan Richardson combined for five quick points to put the Bulldogs up 24-15 with 7:00 left in the half. UGA maintained a comfortable lead until Dye hit a jumper at the 1:37 mark, and the Lady Vols closed out the half with an 8-0 run to pull within one at 32-31.
The Bulldogs went back up by three after Jordan Isaacs hit a jumper, but Tennessee reclaimed the lead just over a minute into the second half off back-to-back buckets by Burrell. A basket by Dye stretched the lead to 37-34 at the 8:25 mark, but Georgia reclaimed the lead a minute later. Horston responded with a layup, and Jordan Walker followed it up with another to put UT back on top and set in motion an 11-2 run that gave the Lady Vols a 48-40 lead with 3:53 left in the third. The Bulldogs clawed back within three a minute and a half later, but a jumper in the closing seconds by Sara Puckett gave UT a five-point lead entering the final stanza.
A pair of free throws by Key stretched UT’s lead to 52-47 at the start of the fourth, but Staiti answered with a pair of layups to cut UGA’s deficit to three with seven minutes left in the game. Brooklynn Miles countered by scoring her first points of the contest in the form of a trey to put the Lady Vols back ahead by six. Javyn Nicholson answered with her first points on Georgia’s next possession, converting on an old-fashioned three-point play. Morrison then cut it to 57-55 with a free throw at the 4:10 mark, but Horston followed it up with a jumper a minute later. Both teams hit a scoring drought over the next two minutes until Key hit a pair of free throws with 49 seconds remaining. Horston and Walker each added a free throw in the final seconds to close out the 63-55 victory on the road.
UP NEXT: The Lady Vols continue SEC play, traveling to Auburn for an 8 p.m. ET (7 CT) match-up on Thursday. The game will be streamed on SECN+.
HORSTON GONNA HOOP: Jordan Horston continues to have her best games in the biggest moments, averaging 19.8 ppg. and 11.2 rpg. over Tennessee’s six contests against opponents ranked in the Top 25.
TK MAKING MOVES: With five blocks against Georgia, Tamari Key moves her career total to 231 and season total to 73. She has now surpassed Kellie Cain to rank third in career blocks and makes her third appearance in UT’s single-season records, checking in at eighth. She already owns fifth with 86 blocks as a freshman and ninth with 72 blocks as a sophomore.
SHE’S BAAAACK: After missing 12 games due to injury, Rae Burrell re-entered the starting lineup against Georgia and finished with 13 points to wind up as UT’s second leading scorer. She has now logged three straight double-digit games, having turned in 14 points against Kentucky and 11 at Vanderbilt.
COMEBACK KIDS: Tennessee overcame a nine-point deficit against Georgia, tying for its second largest comeback of the season (South Florida). UT has now trailed before pulling off the win in 17 of 19 contests.