This Week in UT Sports History is a weekly column written by RTI columnist Lexie Little
An intense in-state rivalry resulted in Vanderbilt fans booing their own team in Nashville this weekend as the Vols beat the Commodores 66-45, ending Vandy’s 1,080-game streak with a made three-point shot. The Commodores went 0-for-25 from beyond the arc, and Vol fans rejoiced after a mid-week routing in Georgia. Meanwhile, the Lady Vols look to continue dominant conference play after a 78-50 win in Gainesville against Florida on Thursday. They face a three-game stretch spanning seven days, including a trip to Connecticut to renew the rivalry with UConn on Thursday.
Reflect on basketball program highlights from January in “This Week in UT Sports History.”
Jan. 24, 2009
Pat Summitt sat in her hotel in Opelika, Alabama, as her No. 10 Lady Vols prepped to take on No. 6 Auburn the following day. Then, she heard the news. North Carolina State head coach Kay Yow had died. Summitt’s longtime friend had been taken by cancer.
In 1984, 32-year-old Summitt accepted the position as the head coach of the 1984 Olympic team. She needed someone who knew the game by her side as Team U.S.A. traveled to Los Angeles to take on the best in the world. She asked Kay Yow to be her first assistant.
“Kay had great wisdom,” Summitt said in her statements that day. “She had a special way of telling you things that you really didn’t want to hear but needed to. Kay was not a ‘yes’ woman. She accepted the challenge of helping me to bring home the first gold medal to the United States in women’s basketball. It was a daunting task, but Kay made it so much easier by helping to relieve the pressure.”
Yow learned of her cancer diagnosis in 1987, one year before she served as head coach to the 1988 Olympic gold medal team. She took a leave of absence from coaching early in 2009 and died from stage 4 breast cancer on Jan. 24 of that year. During her battle against cancer spanning two decades, Yow spent her time off the court advocating for cancer research, likely serving as an example for Summitt, whose Alzheimer’s diagnosis prompted her own action as an activist against disease.
“Kay never pitied herself,” Summitt said. “Instead, she tried to bring awareness to the horrible disease that was robbing her of her life. Through her foundation in conjunction with the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) – The Kay Yow/WBCA Cancer Fund, in partnership with The V Foundation for Cancer Research, she did all that she could do to help others. That was just Kay.”
Left without a head coach, N.C. State looked to a former Lady Vol to take the reins: Kellie Harper. Kay Yow’s sister, Debbie, served as athletic director for the Wolfpack and fired Harper in 2013 after she earned a conference record of only 23-39 in four years. Harper, of course, bounced back and now leads her alma mater with a 14-3 overall record.
Harper’s Lady Vols take on Alabama tonight in Knoxville at 7 p.m. The game will be televised on the SEC Network.
Jan. 21, 2010
Only one game marred the Lady Vols’ conference play in 2010: a loss to Georgia at Stegman Coliseum in Athens. The Lady Vols, who finished the season at 32-3 overall with a 15-1 conference record, couldn’t hang on to beat the Lady Bulldogs with a final score of 53-50.
Tennessee (15-1, 4-0 SEC) entered the contest at No. 3 in the country for yet another Top 10 match-up, this time against No. 8 Georgia (17-1, 4-1 SEC). The game came down to the wire. With 1:08 left on the clock, Alyssia Brewer made a two-point layup with a foul called on the shot, tying the game. She then drained a free throw to put the Lady Vols up by one point, 50-49.
With only a minute left to play, Pat Summitt’s team raced to the opposite end of the court to try to regain possession. With just over 40 seconds left, Georgia’s Ashley Houts got the ball to Porsha Phillips who made a go-ahead layup. Phillips eventually ended the Lady Vols’ dominant streak, scoring the final free throw.
Houts led the Lady Dawgs in both scoring and assists with 12 points and four assists on the night to outlast Tennessee’s squad, including Glory Johnson (14 points) and Shekinna Stricklen (5 assists).
The match-up remained close from tip-off to the final second with multiple ties throughout. At halftime, the score stood at 30 all. Tennessee dominated the boards with 37 rebounds to UGA’s 23. The Lady Vols also led in field goal percentage, shooting 42% to Georgia’s 36.4%. But the Lady Bulldogs edged UT beyond the arc, making 25% of their three-point shots to Tennessee’s 22.2%.
That season, the women in orange, white, and Lady Vol blue protected “The Summitt”—their home court—with a perfect 15-0 home record. Both Tennessee and Georgia were eliminated in the semifinals of the NCAA Tournament to close out the season. Tennessee became the first No. 1 seed eliminated from the tournament in a 77-62 loss to Baylor after opening the season against the same Lady Bears with a 74-65 win. Fifth-seeded Georgia lost in a decisive 73-36 battle against top-seeded Stanford the same day.
The Lady Vols redeemed themselves against the Lady Bulldogs the next year with an impressive 77-44 win in Knoxville.
Jan. 25, 2000
Basketball fans often hope their team will “hang a hundred on ‘em,” scoring at least 100 points against a rival. On Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2000, the Vols did just that and then some. No. 7 Auburn came to Knoxville only to lose by 29 points, 105-76. The No. 13 Vols passed the century mark to stun their SEC West rivals in a primetime 9:05 p.m. game in Thompson-Boling Arena.
Both teams entered the game with a record of 16-2, 4-1 in conference play. Tennessee had just defeated Florida in two overtimes, 81-79, seven days prior in Gainesville. With the win against the Tigers, the Vols improved to 5-1 in conference play for the first time since the 1988-89 season.
Tennessee fans in the crowd of 19,405 yelled, “Overrated” at the Tigers’ bench. Playing its fourth game in nine days, Auburn failed to keep up with the Vols, who took a 49-32 lead by halftime. The break did little for the Tigers.
Tennessee scored more than 100 points in three games during the 1999-2000 season. The first came against American-Puerto Rico a month prior to the match-up with Auburn, winning 102-58. Tennessee would later score 110 against Georgia, beating the Bulldogs by 27 points.
The Vols’ most recent win with 100 points or more came earlier this season in an exhibition game against Eastern New Mexico. Tennessee won 107-59 at home. The Vols face Auburn on Feb. 22 this season, but the young Vol squad will not likely hang a hundred on Bruce Pearl’s Tigers, though Auburn has lost two-straight games after rising to No. 4 in the country.
Rick Barnes’ team takes on Ole Miss in Knoxville tomorrow night at 9:00 p.m. The game will be televised on SEC Network. The Vols (11-6, 3-2 SEC) close out January with a tough Big 12 game at Kansas (14-3) on Saturday and a home match-up with Texas A&M (8-8, 2-3 SEC) on Jan. 28.