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This Week in UT Sports History – Feb. 3rd-Feb. 9th

Photo credit: Anne Newman/RTI

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

**This week marks one year of “This Week in UT Sports History,” a historic moment for Rocky Top Insider. Thanks for reading. We look forward to more memorable moments ahead.**

Yesterday marked the 11th consecutive Super Bowl featuring former Tennessee Vols, as Emmanuel Moseley and Dustin Colquitt suited up for the 49ers and world champion Chiefs, respectively. Tennessee retains a longstanding tradition of sending stars to the NFL. Back on Rocky Top, basketball remains in full swing for Rick Barnes and Kellie Harper’s squads, as Lady Vol softball and Vol baseball prepare to step up to the plate and lead off the 2020 season, continuing other rich traditions.

Take a look back at moments in those traditions in “This Week in UT Sports History.”

Feb. 3, 2001

When a team shoots 20-of-61 from the floor and turns over the ball 21 times, the outcome looks grim. For the Vanderbilt Commodores, the narrative played out exactly that way on Feb. 3, 2001. No. 8 Tennessee entered the match-up on an 18-game home win streak and defeated the Dores 72-50. After losses on the road at Georgia and Florida, the victory against the in-state rival in the home state pleased the crowd of nearly 18,000.

Not even three minutes into the game, Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings argued vehemently against a second foul call against his leading scorer, Greg LaPointe. Stallings picked up a technical as a result, and Vol point guard Tony Harris hit two technical free throws before a monster 3-pointer, contributing to a 15-0 lead in just over five minutes. Harris left the game shortly after with a wrist injury, but the Vols kept the lead from start to finish.

Harris, who played at Tennessee from 1997-2001, averaged 13.1 points and 4.2 assists per game. He now coaches at Memphis East High, his high school alma mater. That night, injury kept him on the sideline for most of the game as Jon Higgins stepped up in his place. Tennessee’s top defender at the time, Higgins finished the game with 10 points and seven assists as he transitioned from shooting guard to point guard.

The Vols finished 22-11 overall that season. Fans left Thompson-Boling Arena heartbroken on Valentine’s Day just a little over a week later, losing their first home game in 19 games to Kentucky, 103-95, before two more home losses—again to Florida and Georgia.

Feb. 5, 2009

The narrative started Jan. 10, 1974. Win No. 1 for Pat Head Summitt as coach of the Lady Volunteers. On Feb. 5, 2009, the narrative reached a climax when Summitt earned her 1,000th win. Over the course of 12,455 days, Summitt led her squads to six national titles and 1,000 wins, turning the narrative into legend.

Thirty-four seasons. 28.9 average wins per season. 5.4 average losses per season. 153 Lady Vols (with 100% graduation rate for the 111 who did not transfer, quit, or end careers for injury). And with a 30-point win over Georgia on Feb. 5, 2005, Summitt’s win count hit 1,000.

Georgia coach Andy Landers sent Summitt a text before the Lady Vols’ match-up against Oklahoma (one game before Georgia) saying, “Win or I’ll be p.o.’ed,” according to Mechelle Voepel of ESPN. He hoped his team would not be the one to hand Summitt her milestone victory. His hopes were dashed.

The Lady Vols showed no mercy against the Lady Bulldogs, emerging victorious at 73-43. The team ran to dump confetti on Summitt who could not contain her emotion as she thanked her players, assistants, and fans.

UT Men’s Athletics Director Mike Hamilton presented Summitt with the game ball from her 1,000th win. Her 100th and 900th had been hard to secure, as she won those on the road at North Carolina State and Vanderbilt.

Summitt finished her career with 1,098 wins in 1,306 games.

Feb. 8, 2014

This Saturday, Tennessee Softball begins its season at the Kajikawa Classic in Tempe, Arizona. The Lady Vols face Northwestern at 3:30 p.m. and Kansas at 8:30 p.m. Six years ago on the same day, the No. 1 team in the country wore orange and white. The top-ranked Lady Vols led by All-American ace Ellen Renfroe took down the defending Southern Conference champion Georgia Southern with a shutout, 1-0, at the Eagle Round Robin Tournament in Statesboro, Georgia.

Renfroe pitched seven innings and only gave up two hits. She struck out 10 batters and walked only one. But the win would not have been possible without Melissa Davin’s solo home run. Leading off the second inning, Davin whacked one over the fence for the only run of the game.

Tennessee entered the game ranked No. 1 in the country in both major polls following an impressive season in 2013. The Lady Vols lost the Women’s College World Series Championship to the Oklahoma Sooners. In 2013, both Ellen Renfroe and her elder sister Ivy pitched for Tennessee. Their younger sister, Anna, also played for Tennessee as an infielder.

With Ellen Renfroe still on the roster, the 2013 runners up seemed like the obvious choice to enter 2014 at No. 1. They came out swinging to prove it, winning the first game of the tournament in five innings, 8-0, against Northern Colorado on Feb. 7. Then, before the win against Georgia Southern on Feb. 8, the Lady Vols defeated the same Northern Colorado team 8-3. Tennessee outscored its opponents 17-3 in the first three games.

To cap off an already stellar start, the Lady Vols really got their offense going that Sunday, defeating Oakland 14-3, nearly the total score of their first three games.

Again at the end of the season, the Lady Vols found their way to their second consecutive Women’s College World Series Championship. And again, they lost to Oklahoma. However, they did earn one win in the Championship series, an improvement from the season prior.

The 2019 Lady Vols finished the season in the NCAA Super Regionals, dropping the three-game series against No. 5 Florida. The 2020 team enters the season ranked in the Top 15 in all major polls: 11th on the Softball Collegiate Top 25, 12th on the USAToday/NFCA Division I Preseason Coaches’ Poll, and 14th on Softball America’s rankings.

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