This Week in UT Sports History is a new weekly column written by new RTI contributor Lexie Little
A rainy weekend for the modern Knoxville crowd didn’t stop Vol faithful from watching the undefeated 2019 Baseball Vols, but the downpour put a damper on Saturday softball while both basketball teams fell to ranked opponents this weekend. Softball picked up the pace Sunday, winning two games, but who slid to victory in the past? And who experienced defeat?
Take a look back at this week in UT Sports History.
Feb. 26, 2009
The 2018-19 No. 5 Volunteers (24-3, 12-2 SEC) went to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, to face the No. 13 LSU Tigers (22-5, 12-2 SEC) and lost by two points in overtime, 82-80. On Feb. 26, 2009, the No. 18 Lady Vols experienced a similar fate in the bayou, losing to LSU by two points, 63-61. The reigning national champions beat LSU at the buzzer in the Final Four the preceding season, but the Lady Tigers bested Tennessee to hand the Lady Vols their third loss in four games – a disappointment for legendary coach Pat Summitt.
“I was really disappointed…in the first eight minutes, we got down 14-2,” Summitt said in a post-game presser. “This has been one of the most frustrating jobs for our coaching staff because we never know who’s going to bring what.”
Angie Bjorklund led the Lady Vols with 21 points, 15 coming in the second half, to climb out of a 35-20 deficit at the half. Bjorklund, who became a national champion during her freshman campaign, finished her career as the sixth Lady Vol to earn first-team Academic All-American status in addition to accumulating 305 career three-pointers, placing her at the top of the record books. Bjorklund played for the Chicago Sky following the 2011 WNBA Draft.
The Lady Vols matched Bjorklund’s 21 points in the game with 21 turnovers, ultimately leading to a prescient road loss. Tennessee finished the season as the first defending champion to lose its opening game in the NCAA Tournament on the women’s side, falling to Ball State 71-55.
The 2018-19 Lady Vols (17-10, 6-8 SEC) face Vanderbilt (6-21, 1-13 SEC) Thursday at 7:00 p.m. in Knoxville. The game will be televised on SEC Network.
March 1, 2014
On the men’s side, Tennessee honored a Vol great on March 1, 2014 in a pregame ceremony, hanging the No. 14 jersey of legendary forward Dale Ellis from the rafters of Thompson-Boling Arena. Ellis was the fourth Volunteer to have his jersey retired in men’s basketball.
From 1979-83, Ellis garnered attention as a first-team All-American. He earned SEC Player of the Year honors in 1982 and 1983. Under head coach Don DeVoe, the Marietta, Georgia, native helped lead the ’81-82 Vols’ campaign to a regular season SEC Championship with a record of 20-10 (13-5 SEC).
Ellis received his degree in sociology from UT in 1985 after working during NBA breaks to fulfill graduation requirements. Ellis played for six different teams in the NBA, starting his career with the Dallas Mavericks (ninth overall selection in the 1983 NBA Draft) and ending his 17-year career in Charlotte after stints with Seattle, Milwaukee, San Antonio, and Denver.
Ellis made NBA history as the first player in league history to make 1,000 three-point shots.
Other Vols with the honor of having their number retired include: Bernard King (No. 53), Ernie Grunfeld (No. 22), and Allan Houston (No. 20).
Tennessee retired Grunfeld’s jersey March 2, 2008 in recognition of the two-time first-team All-American’s 2,249 career points (the first player in UT history with more than 2,000 career points scored), his part in the 1976-77 SEC Championship and his status as Tennessee’s first basketball Olympian. Grunfeld helped the 1976 United States team to a gold medal in Montreal, Canada. He currently serves as the president of the Washington Wizards.
Feb. 25, 2006
This season, Kingsport, Tennessee native John Fulkerson has played in 26 games for Tennessee Basketball, earning averages of 3.5 points per game and 2.7 rebounds per game. On Feb. 25, 2006, another Kingsport native led the UT men’s tennis team to victory against Furman University. Ben Rogers helped the then-No. 20 team earn an 8-3 doubles win and 6-1 and 6-0 singles wins. The All-American lettered at Tennessee from 2004-07 and went on to win six Futures doubles titles on the professional tennis circuit. Rogers finished the 2006 season in a return trip to the NCAA Doubles Championships with Adam Hubble.
The 2019 Tennis Vols take on MTSU Wednesday at Goodfriend Tennis Center in Knoxville at 2 p.m. Eastern. Tennessee opens SEC play Friday against Georgia at 6 p.m. in Knoxville.