Each Monday we recap the previous week’s news and notes from around Tennessee Athletics. This is the place for Vol fans to catch up on any of the action they may have missed. Last week on Rocky Top, the men’s and women’s basketball teams competed in their respective NCAA Tournaments.
This article was written by RTI contributor Spencer Morrell.
The No. 5 seed Tennessee Volunteers basketball team took on the No. 12 seed Oregon State Beavers on Friday afternoon in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Tennessee was without its senior leader John Fulkerson due to injuries he sustained in the SEC Tournament, leading to sophomore Uros Plavsic getting his first start of the season.
Unfortunately, it did not seem to matter who the Vols put on the floor Friday afternoon. The Beavers jumped on UT early, and the Vols’ offense was missing in action. Tennessee could only muster an abysmal seven points in the first 10 minutes of the game. The offensive action did not get better from there as the Vols trailed 33-19 at halftime. This was Tennessee’s lowest first half point total of the season. UT found themselves down 20 points multiple times throughout the rest of the game, and they never seriously threatened to take the lead. Tennessee never led in a 70-56 loss. Freshman Keon Johnson led Tennessee with 14 points, while fellow freshman Jaden Springer had 12. Tennessee’s up and down season ended with an early exit from the NCAA Tournament, and a 18-9 record for the year.
Lady Vol Basketball
The Lady Vols came into the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament as a No. 3 seed. Their first round matchup was against the No. 14 seeded Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders. Tennessee took an early nine-point lead in the first quarter, but the Blue Raiders were able to stay within striking distance. The Lady Vols struggled to contain the hot three-point shooting of their instate foe in the second quarter, and the game was knotted at 39 after 20 minutes.
Tennessee was able to reign in MTSU’s offense in the third quarter, and the Lady Vols used their size and length to their advantage on offense to build a 62-49 lead by the end of the third quarter. UT pulled away in the fourth quarter on the way to a dominating 87-62 first round victory. Senior Rennia Davis posted yet another double-double with 24 points and 14 rebounds, while Junior Rae Burrell poured in 22 points. Notably, 5-foot-8 junior point guard Jordan Walker pulled down 14 rebounds, with seven of them being on the offensive end. She played a major role in Tennessee outrebounding MTSU 56-21. The Lady Vols advanced to the second round of the tournament for the 52nd time.
The No. 10 ranked Vols’ baseball team had an in-state matchup on Tuesday night with ETSU. Tennessee’s battle with the Bucs went into extra innings knotted at six runs apiece. Right fielder Jordan Beck came to the plate in the bottom of the tenth inning with two outs and two runners on base, and he proceeded to blast a walk-off homer to give Tennessee a 9-6 win.
The Vols then played a three-game weekend series against conference foe Georgia. The Vols dominated Georgia in Friday’s game, winning 11-6. However, UT suffered a setback Saturday night. Tennessee took a lead into the ninth inning, but the Bulldogs cracked a walk-off two-run single in the bottom of the ninth with two outs to deal the Vols a heartbreaking loss. The series would be on the line Sunday afternoon. Tennessee slowly built a lead throughout the early innings of the game Sunday, and Vol pitcher Blade Tidwell protected that lead. Tidwell allowed only one run on four hits as the Vols left Athens with a 4-1 victory and a series win. After last week’s wins the Vols are now 17-4 on the year.
Lady Vol Softball
The No. 21-ranked Lady Vols started their week with a double header against Bellarmine on Tuesday afternoon. Tennessee grabbed two shutout run-rule victories, winning the two games 19-0 and 8-0. Tennessee 19-0 victory was Bellarmine’s largest margin of defeat in the program’s history.
The Lady Vols then had a monster three-game series with No. 3 Alabama over the weekend. UT knocked off the Tide in the first game of the series by a score of 4-3 on Friday, before falling 7-1 in the second game on Saturday. This set up a rubber match on Sunday afternoon. Unfortunately, the Lady Vols could not get their runners in game three. Tennessee managed six hits on the day, but it failed to get anyone across home plate. The Lady Vols dropped the game 3-0 and lost the series. The Lady Vols are 21-5 on the season.
The Lady Vol basketball team will take on the No. 6 seeded Michigan Wolverines in the second round of the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament on Tuesday.
The Vol baseball team will play Eastern Kentucky on Tuesday, before welcoming LSU to Knoxville for a 3-game series over the weekend.
The Lady Vol softball team will play a double header against Kennesaw State on Wednesday, and then host the Lady Vol Challenge on Saturday and Sunday. The Lady Vols will battle Furman and Troy as part of the challenge.