Burrell Shines As Lady Vols Dismantle Kentucky

    by -

    The Las Vegas Raiders were just Nine Yards Away

    Kentucky led Tennessee by six points at the end of the first quarter, looking to play spoiler for the Lady Vols’ annual “We Back Pat” game at Thompson-Boling Arena.

    Tennessee quickly put to bed any notions about that happening. The Lady Vols opened the second quarter with an 11-2 run and didn’t look back, dominating the Wildcats, 84-58, for their eighth straight win.

    “If you walk out onto the court and your jerseys say Summitt, you better bring it,” Tennessee head coach Kellie Harper said postgame.

    With the win, No. 5 Tennessee (17-1, 6-0 SEC) stays atop the conference standings while No. 19 Kentucky falls to 8-5 (1-2 SEC).

    The dominant second quarter began with something we’ve seen before, but not in quite sometime. Senior Rae Burrell took over for the Lady Vols making all three of her three-point attempts in the quarter  while scoring more points (11) than Kentucky did in the frame (10).

    In the shooting guard’s best game since returning from a knee injury she suffered in the first half of the season opener, Burrell scored 14 points on five-of-eight shooting in 23 minutes. The Las Vegas native looked like her old self, including drilling a three-pointer from Seymour as the third quarter expired.

    “I am getting more comfortable,” Burrell said. “It’s a process so each game I’m getting better with just feeling the game and seeing what I got.”

    “I thought she came in and gave us a big boost on the offensive end,” Harper said. “Knocked down some shots and when you have a lot of different people that can score it puts a lot of pressure on the opposing defense. Rae played pretty good extended minutes today. … I thought she  moved well defensively. … She’s exactly where we need her to be right now. She’s an instant threat when she steps on the court.”

    Playing the most minutes and recording her most points since returning from injury, Burrell earned a standing ovation when checking out of the game for the final time midway through the fourth quarter.

    Burrell wasn’t the only Lady Vol stroking it from deep. Tennessee was an impressive 10-of-20 from three-point range. Tess Darby made a trio of three-pointers, and five total Lady Vols made a shot from deep.

    The hot three-point shooting came in a steady barrage and led to the dominant win. The 27-10 second quarter opened up Tennessee’s lead and the Lady Vols kept the foot on the gas in the second half, outscoring the Wildcats 26-16.

    The Lady Vols are now 4-1 against ranked opponents and 2-0 in SEC play, beating the pair of top 25 opponents by 28 and 26 points, respectively.

    It wasn’t all good news for Tennessee in the dominant win. Star center Tamari Key exited the game with a right ankle injury in the second quarter, went straight to the locker room and didn’t return to the game.

    “Tamari, it’s her ankle,” Harper said. “What’s good is we are on a bye week on Thursday and she’ll be day-to-day and hopefully we’ll be able to see her progress this week. I don’t know anymore than that other then she was all smiles after the game in the locker room.”

    Key’s absence opened the door for Keyen Green and the redshirt-senior took advantage, scoring 10 of her 14 points in the second half while adding seven rebounds and three assists.

    “I think Keyen went into that role, stepped up and knew what to do,” Burrell said.

    “I feel like everyone stepped up big,” Jordan Horston said. “With this team, we’re so deep and competitive. We play for each other and wanted to play better for her.”

    Tennessee now has a week off before returning to the court Sunday afternoon at No. 17 Georgia.

    Ryan Schumpert is a senior at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville who has covered University of Tennessee athletics since the moment he stepped on campus. He just completed a three-year stint with the Daily Beacon, the last two of which as the Sports Editor. Ryan also spent last three years at Volquest providing strong Tennessee baseball coverage of Tony Vitello's resurgent program. While the bulk of Ryan's responsibilities involved beat coverage and writing, he also recorded podcasts for both the Beacon and Volquest. Did we leave out the part about Ryan interning for the Smokies? Ryan's work ethic, versatility, and strong writing skills are but three of the reasons why Vol Nation will be hearing from Ryan for years to come.