This Week in UT Sports History – Nov. 4th-10th

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    Photo credit: Anne Newman/RTI

    This Week in UT Sports History is a weekly column written by RTI columnist Lexie Little

    Tennessee (4-5, 2-3 SEC) took down UAB (6-2) on a cold November Homecoming night in Knoxville, winning 30-7 on Saturday. Cornerback Bryce Thompson tied a UT single-game record for interceptions with three on the evening — one for each game he missed this season on suspension. The Pride of the Southland Marching Band also marked a record evening, welcoming around 750 alumni members home to march at halftime and celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Pride with Grammy award-winner Lee Greenwood.

    As the university’s 225th year continues, take a look back at more record-worthy moments in “This Week in UT Sports History.”

    Nov. 8, 1952

    In his 21st season as head coach, Gen. Robert Neyland wanted his 1952 Vols to repeat as national champions. All-American Doug Atkins led a stingy defense devised by Neyland, a staunch tactician whose strategies held all opponents to 16 points or less that season.

    A loss to No. 10 Duke early in the season only motivated the Vols to improve. Tennessee shut out undefeated Alabama 20-0 one week before shutting out Wofford 50-0 in October. When the calendar flipped to November, halfback Pat Shires almost single-handedly beat North Carolina, passing for a touchdown, passing for an extra point, running for a touchdown, kicking five extra points, and punting five times.

    The Vols came off the 41-14 home win over UNC at No. 8 in the AP Poll. Ranked nationally, Tennessee readied itself to travel to another state: Louisiana. The struggling LSU Tigers invited the Volunteers to Baton Rouge for Homecoming — a decision they would come to regret.

    Tennessee defeated the Tigers 22-3 in Tiger Stadium on Nov. 8, 1952.

    Knoxville Journal sports editor Ed Harris said the Cotton Bowl in Dallas proved imminent if the Vols won against LSU, citing an anonymous source who was “beyond reproach.” The Vols did, indeed, accept a Cotton Bowl bid at season’s end, losing to Texas 16-0 in the postseason. However, Neyland and the Vols remained solely focused on LSU before a crowd of 35,000 that day.

    Papers sang Vol praises.

    “[Andy] Kozar again packed the stiffest wallop for the Vols, carrying the ball 17 times for 80 yards,” Knoxville News-Sentinel sports editor Bob Wilson wrote. “[Jimmy] Wade, the Vols’ hot-rod speedster, came next with 45 yards in 11 tries, including a 22-yard touchdown dash.”

    With the ground game off and running, the General and his defense just needed to hold down the fort. And that they did.

    Wilson noted the Vols’ “defensive stalwarts…again gave a fine account of themselves” holding LSU to only three points and 24 yards passing.

    Tennessee finished the season 8-2-1 in Neyland’s last as the Vols’ skipper.

    Nov. 6, 2008

    Neyland led Tennessee to titles in football thanks largely to his defensive mind and devotion to the men following his lead. Pat Summitt held the same passion for players and a mind for both offense and defense that led the Lady Vols to eight national titles.

    Champions breed champions.

    The 2008-09 Lady Vols squad came into the season fresh off consecutive national titles in 2007 and 2008. Despite the loss of Candance Parker to the WNBA, all eyes remained on the women in orange, white, and Lady Vol blue heading into the first exhibition game on Nov. 6.

    They kept the attention.

    Tennessee put 64 points on the board in the first half alone en route to a 135-55 win against Carson-Newman. The Lady Vols outscored Carson-Newman 80-14 in the paint, and the bench accounted for 86 points, including 14 from freshman Alyssia Brewer (who also picked up a double-double with 13 rebounds).

    Freshmen dominated the game for the Lady Vols, especially Shekinna Stricklen, who scored 17 points, picked six steals, and earned six rebounds. Stricklen continued to impress that season, starting in all 32 games in which she played. The U.S. Basketball Writers Association named her national Freshman of the Year following the season.

    “I am extremely blessed to be able to play basketball at Tennessee, as it has always been my dream,”  Stricklen said following the selection. “There are so many great players in women’s collegiate hoops that this is truly a special honor.”

    Unfortunately, that season, the Lady Vols entered the NCAA tournament with a No. 5 seeding, the lowest in program history after going 22-11 during the season. But the Vols had reason to celebrate in a rebuilding year. Pat Summitt picked up her 1,000th victory on Feb. 5, 2009, and her freshmen remained motivated.

    “[Stricklen] works incredibly hard every day, and her development through the year was excellent,” Summitt said. “I cannot imagine us not having her this season as her offensive skill set was incredibly important to our success. She is determined to get better, and I am very glad we have her at Tennessee.”

    Nov. 5, 2018

    History repeated itself one decade (almost to the day) later as freshmen led the Lady Vol charge against Carson-Newman yet again. Tennessee overwhelmed the Lady Eagles 128-59 in the 15th consecutive preseason victory against the in-state foes.

    Freshman Zaay Green scored 28 points on her way to a double-double with 10 rebounds, and fellow freshman Mimi Collins picked up as many rebounds with 16 points to earn a double-double of her own.

    “The freshmen have impressed me since they’ve been on campus,” former head coach Holly Warlick said. “They play hard, they play without fear, and they play relentless. That’s what has separated them.”

    Tennessee’s rookies combined for 67 points and 33 rebounds in the win. Green led the team in scoring, surprising herself and Lady Vol fans in Thompson-Boling Arena as she overcame early jitters to dominate the court named for Pat Summitt.

    Green grew up watching Summitt’s legacy.

    “I’ve been thinking about this moment since I was very young,” Green said. “Tennessee has been my dream school, so this has really been an accomplishment for me, a high-set goal.”

    The Lady Vols entered the half with 66 points, a game high 34 in the 2nd period. Warlick never lost an exhibition game as head coach, but that match-up would mark her last Carson-Newman opener at Tennessee.

    New head coach and former national champion Lady Vol Kellie Harper, however, is off to a good start, picking up her first exhibition win last week, 70-44 against, you guessed it, Carson-Newman. The 2019 Lady Vols travel to Johnson City, Tennessee, to take on East Tennessee State tomorrow night at 7:00 p.m.

    Men’s basketball also returns this week. Rick Barnes and the Vols take on UNC-Asheville in Knoxville at 7:00 p.m. tomorrow night. Fans can stream the game on SEC Network+ or listen on the Vol Network.



    Lexie Little is a journalist from Kingsport, Tennessee, who holds a Bachelor of Communication degree from the University of Tennessee with majors in both Journalism & Electronic Media and French & Francophone Studies. She's a contributor to RTI and writes the weekly column "The Week in UT Sports History." Lexie formerly worked as a feature writer for VIPSEEN Magazine and continues to freelance for various publications as she earns her master's degree from the University of Georgia Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication.