This Week in Sports History is a new weekly column written by new RTI contributor Lexie Little.
The No. 1 Tennessee Volunteers Men’s Basketball squad (20-1, 8-0 SEC) achieved a program record 16 consecutive wins in its historic 93 – 76 victory against Texas A&M on Saturday, Feb. 2 in College Station, Texas. On Sunday, former Vol Cordarrelle Patterson helped the Patriots to a sixth Super Bowl title with two carries for seven yards and two receptions for 14 yards in Super Bowl 53 in Atlanta.
With significant performances from Vols past and present, many journalists and analysts clamor for past stats and facts to compare while fans look to relive glory days long forgotten. While nostalgia reigns in a tradition-rich program like Tennessee, let’s take a look back at times good and bad for the Vols – it’s “This Week in UT Sports History.”
Feb. 4, 2015
Though former Vol running back and current Los Angeles Ram John Kelly II stood on the losing sideline in Atlanta on Sunday, this week holds significance in his career in a positive way as well. Kelly signed with Tennessee on Feb. 4, 2015 after Butch Jones traveled to his home state of Michigan to recruit the then fifth-ranked player in the Wolverine State. Kelly rushed for 1,321 yards at Oak Park High School and was a three-star recruit. Kelly scored his first collegiate touchdown on a 1-yard rush in the Outback Bowl win over Northwestern on Jan. 1, 2016. Kelly finished his tenure as a Vol with 1,573 total rushing yards and 350 receiving yards. The Rams drafted Kelly in the sixth round of the 2018 NFL Draft.
Feb. 4, 2016
The 2018-2019 Lady Vols defeated Vanderbilt 82-65 in Nashville to give them their 15th win this season on Sunday, Feb. 3. But three years prior, the Lady Volunteers’ 75-57 win against Arkansas on Feb. 4, 2016 marked head coach Holly Warlick’s 100th win at the helm. Warlick quickly earned 100 wins, reaching the milestone in her fourth year – a feat only matched by 17 other coaches all-time prior to 2016. Her winning record outpaced that of the late great Pat Summitt. Summitt hit the century mark on Jan. 13, 1979 in a 79-66 win against NC State during her fifth season as head coach.
Feb. 7, 2002 and Feb. 5, 2008
Although Summitt did not reach her 100th win until her fifth season, she etched her name beside another major record with a 93-65 victory against Arkansas in the first week of February 2002: her 1,000th win as a head coach (collegiate and international). Nearly six years later, Summitt led the Lady Vols to a 73-43 win against Georgia at Thompson-Boling arena to win her 1,000th game at Tennessee on Feb. 5, 2008. The victory in Knoxville made Summitt the first Division I coach (men’s or women’s) to win 1,000 games with a single program.
Feb. 7, 2006
In the men’s basketball record books, Feb. 7, 2006 serves as a memorable date in the Bruce Pearl era. Pearl, in his first year as Tennessee’s head coach, started the season with a 17-3 record. The 2005-2006 Vols stood poised to break the Associated Press Top 10 when they traveled to Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky. The No. 11 squad defeated the unranked Wildcats — coached by Tubby Smith — by a score of 75-67. Guard Chris Lofton finished with a then career-high 31 points. Lofton now plays for Le Mans Sarthe Basket (MSB) in Le Mans, France as a part of the Pro A league. The win over Kentucky and a subsequent win against Georgia on Feb. 12, 2006 put Tennessee in the Top 10 at No. 8. That season ended in an NCAA Tournament appearance, with the Vols losing in the Round of 32 to Wichita State.
Feb. 4 and Feb. 6, 1967
While fans compare the duo of Grant Williams and Admiral Schofield to the Ernie and Bernie Show of the mid-1970s, the “Fearless Five” of 1967 might come back into rhetoric in comparison with the unselfish Tennessee starters who continue to entertain. The 1967 SEC champions defeated Mississippi State in triple-overtime to clinch the title in what some dubbed the greatest men’s game in Tennessee history. However, the road to the championship took several turns along the way. Following road wins against Florida and Kentucky, the latter in double overtime, the 1967 squad dropped a game to Ole Miss, 56-51, at C.M. Tad Smith Coliseum on Feb. 4, 1967, ending a 7-game win streak. The Vols bounced back two days later on the road at LSU, winning 76-59 at the Huey Long Field House. The field house named for notable U.S. Senator and 40th Louisiana Gov. Huey Long was built in 1932 and included a gymnasium used until the Pete Maravich Assembly Center was completed in 1972. The building now houses kinesiology classes and offices, much like the former Alumni Memorial gym space where Pat Summitt coached her first games now serves as an auditorium and classrooms for various departments in the Tickle College of Engineering, Haslam College of Business, and the College of Arts & Sciences. The Stokely Athletics Center opened in 1967 to replace Alumni Memorial gym, which had a capacity of 3,200. The Fearless Five played its season in the Stokely Athletics Center, which was later replaced by Thompson-Boling Arena in 1987.
The current No. 1 Tennessee Volunteers take on Missouri Tuesday night in Knoxville at 9:00 p.m. The game will be televised on ESPN 2.