This Week in UT Sports History is a weekly series written by RTI columnist Lexie Little
With the Vol football team looking toward Arkansas during the bye week, fans turned attention to the Lady Vol volleyball and soccer teams and the Tennessee cross country team. After finding their first win of the season against Georgia Wednesday night, the volleyball Lady Vols dropped a close match to the Bulldogs. Going to five sets, Tennessee fell short, 2-3 (25-23, 23-25, 18, 25, 25-15, 13-15). Meanwhile, Tennessee’s soccer team (3-3-1) traveled to the Swamp in Gainesville and picked up its third consecutive win against the rival Florida Gators by a final tally of 2-1.
The men’s cross country team took fourth at the Southeastern Conference Championships Friday in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Head coach Beth Alford-Sullivan has led the men’s team to three top-five finishes at the conference championships. This year marks her seventh at the helm. When she took over in 2014, she became the first woman to lead a men’s SEC program in any sport.
Sullivan, like other Tennessee coaches, contributed to the conference’s storied history. This year marks one unlike any other with fall sports limited to conference play. While coaches, players and fans remain focused on the 2020 season, Rocky Top Insider takes a look back at this week in UT sports history:
Nov. 4, 1939
The Vols’ defense had not allowed a single opponent point through ten games dating back to Nov. 5, 1938. The last opponent to score on the General’s defense: LSU on Oct. 29 of that year in Knoxville. Tennessee packed up and headed to Baton Rouge where the Tigers hoped to at least put up points against the SEC East team like they had a season before (though they lost 14-6).
No such luck for the Bayou Bengals.
The Vols shut out LSU 20-0 on the road at the midway point of what would become the only shutout regular season in NCAA history. Double-team blocking, a hallmark of Neyland’s gameplay, contributed to the win. Neyland placed the onus of most games on his defense, focusing on a strong six-man line and zone pass play as described by sportswriter William Nack. Their main aim: make the offense give, then follow the ball.
LSU entered the matchup 4-1 in search of a winning season. After the loss to Tennessee, the Tigers wouldn’t win another game in 1939. They finished the season 4-5 (1-5 SEC). Tennessee holds a record of 20-10-3 against LSU all-time. The first matchup came in 1925 when the two teams tied in Knoxville. The most recent matchup in 2017, also in Knoxville, resulted in the Vols losing by 20 points (in reverse of the 1939 season), 30-10.
Tennessee held opponents scoreless from Nov. 5, 1938 until Jan. 1, 1940 when USC handed the Vols a 14-0 loss in the Rose Bowl. The Vols won their 10 regular-season games by a combined score of 212-0. Their 71 consecutive shutout quarters remain an NCAA record, one that perhaps will not ever be broken.
The 2020 Tennessee team takes on another SEC West opponent, Arkansas, this weekend. The game is set for 7:30 p.m. on the SEC Network.
Nov. 5, 2006
When the Lady Vols passed the century mark in their first three games of the 2006-07 season, head coach Pat Summitt and company might have suspected an impending title run. After defeating Carson-Newman University 104-49, the Lady Vols welcomed the Houston Jaguars to Thompson-Boling where the latter suffered a similar fate, losing 101-51.
In Tennessee’s second exhibition game, redshirt sophomore Alex Fuller scored 20 points and pulled down 15 rebounds. She made her presence known in the second half with 16 points and 13 rebounds after a slow start. The forward surprised fans whose attention had previously gone to preseason Southeastern Conference Player of the year and eventual WNBA Champion Candace Parker.
“Alex’s intensity to be on the inside and outside and hitting the glass opens up things,” Parker said postgame as reported by the Chattanoogan’s Wendy King.
At the end of Fuller’s freshman campaign, her career highs stood at eight points and seven rebounds. Rigid training in the offseason helped her improve her game, gaining strength in the weight room and improving stamina through sprints. Summitt took notice in practice saying Fuller was in better shape than ever.
“She’s got a lot of weapons. She can face-up. She can shoot the three and she’s got a good mid-range game,” Summitt said. “It’s apparent that she’s much faster in transition. She runs the floor well. She’s a better player all-around.”
Parker, of course, also proved no slouch. She put 18 points on the board and rounded out the game with a double-double, fighting for 10 rebounds. Two other Lady Vols scored in double digits: Sidney Spencer (19) and Dominique Redding (10).
The 50-point victory gave Tennessee momentum ahead of the season opener against system team Chattanooga. The Lady Vols again crossed the 100-point threshold, winning 102-72. They would go on to win 34 games, including the national title, only losing three matchups. Tennessee finished with a perfect 14-0 conference record.
Kellie Harper and the 2020-21 Lady Vols await scheduling for the season with SEC play slated to begin Dec. 31, 2020. Former Lady Vol Harper led Tennessee to a 21-10 (10-6) record in her first season at the helm.