Lady Vols' Hoops: 2019-20 Season Notebook

Monday, April 6, 2020 - by UT Athletics

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- The inaugural season of the Kellie Harper era at Tennessee is in the books.

It came to an unexpected and surreal end when the coronavirus (COVID-19) global health crisis forced the cancellation of the 2020 NCAA Tournament and altered typical human activities around the world for a substantial period of time. 

A Lady Vol team that started two freshmen and played the bulk of the season with only one returning starter from a year ago put together a 21-10 record and finished tied for third in the SEC with a 10-6 mark after being picked seventh. That third-place SEC finish was the best by UT since the 2014-15 squad captured the program's league-best 18th regular-season championship.

The Lady Vols won 20+ games in a season for the 43rd time in the last 44 years and were in position to keep their perfect attendance mark for NCAA Tournament participation. Tennessee remains the only school to compete in every women's NCAA tourney, holding a streak of 38 straight berths. UT also continues to be the winningest program in NCAA Women's Basketball history with a 1,384-343 all-time record.

YEAR ONE SUCCESS DESPITE YOUTH

  • The 21 victories in her initial season at Tennessee marked the most earned by Kellie Harper in year one of any of her four stints as a head coach.
  • This is the eighth 20-win season of Harper's head coaching career, including three straight and four of the last five years.
  • Harper has twice recorded 20-win campaigns in her first year at a school. She was 18-14 in year one at Western Carolina, 20-14 in her first season at NC State, 14-17 in year one at Missouri State and finished 21-10 in year one at UT.
  • UT's tie for third place in the SEC standings in 2019-20 marked the ninth top-three league finish by a Harper-coached team and the best outcome she has had in her first season at a school. 

A CLOSER LOOK AT THE SEASON

  • The Lady Vols' only losses this season were to teams that were destined for NCAA Tournament bids. Eight of those came against ranked foes, including four that were top-10 ranked teams (No. 1 Stanford, No. 1 South Carolina, No. 3 UConn, No. 8 Mississippi State) when UT played them.
  • Tennessee beat Notre Dame, 74-63, on Nov. 11 when the Irish carried a No. 15/14 ranking. 
  • The Lady Vols stopped a two-game losing streak to Notre Dame and won for the first time at Purcell Pavilion since Jan. 5, 2008.
  • Tennessee handed Notre Dame its first home loss to an unranked team (AP Poll) since 2012 vs. West Virginia. That streak ended at 91 games.
  • The Lady Vols were the first team other than UConn to defeat the Fighting Irish at Purcell Pavilion in the past 114 games.
  • UT ended a 48-game N.D. winning streak in the month of November.
  • The Big Orange had no bad losses on the résumé, picked up a win over LSU (receiving votes) and had close defeats vs. No. 13 Kentucky and No. 16 Texas A&M.

MILESTONES ACHIEVED

  • Kellie Harper won her 300th game as a head coach when the Lady Vols beat Alabama, 65-63, on Jan. 20.
  • In that win over Bama, Tennessee picked up its 400th SEC regular season win. UT finished the year with a 405-84 all-time record vs. league foes during the regular season.
  • The "W" vs. Bama equaled UT's 10th home win of 2019-20. UT has had at least 10 home victories in every one of Thompson-Boling Arena's 33 seasons.
  • The Lady Vols' 7-1 start in SEC play was UT's best league open since going 13-0 in 2014-15.
  • Kellie Harper coached the 500th game of her head coaching career on Dec. 1, as the Lady Vols defeated Air Force, 81-54, in Knoxville.

DOUBLE-DOUBLE DAVIS 

  • Rennia Davis recorded 11 double-doubles in 2019-20, which tied for the seventh best total all-time by a Lady Vol junior with Cindy Noble and Shekinna Stricklen.
  • Ranked ahead of her are Mercedes Russell (19), Isabelle Harrison (18), Chamique Holdsclaw (16), Candace Parker (14), Daedra Charles (13) and Glory Johnson (12).
  • Davis is tied with Bashaara Graves for 10th in UT history with 29 double-doubles during her first three seasons.
  • Ranked ahead of Davis are Chamique Holdsclaw (57), Mercedes Russell (46), Candace Parker (45), Glory Johnson (36), Mary Ostrowski (35), Tamika Catchings (32), Isabelle Harrison (31) and Daedra Charles and Sheila Frost (30).
  • Among active SEC players, Davis ranks third (29) in the league for career double-doubles, and she  tied for fourth with 11 during the 2019-20 season.

MORE NUMBERS FROM "RE" 

  • Rennia Davis eclipsed the 1,000-point plateau this season, becoming the 46th Lady Vol to do so. Davis finished the year with 1,400 points and stands 29th on the all-time UT scoring list.
  • Davis averaged 18.0 points, 8.2 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game while shooting 46.9 percent from the field and 80.2 percent from the free throw line.
  • Her scoring and rebound averages rank sixth and seventh, respectively, among all-time juniors at Tennessee.
  • Davis scoring average is the best by a Lady Vol since Candace Parker averaged 21.3 in 2008.
  • She was first on the team in three-pointers made (34), second in steals (28) and third in assists (74).
  • Against nine ranked opponents, Davis put up 19.8 ppg. and 7.0 rpg. and shot 43.8% on field goals and 84.2% on free throws vs. those teams.
  • She averaged 19.9 ppg. and 8.0 rpg. vs. SEC foes while hitting 49.6% from the field and 82.8% at the charity stripe in 16 regular-season contests.
  • Davis scored in double figures in 29 of 30 games, including the last 28 straight. She now has scored in double figures in 42 of her last 43 contests.
  • Among her 29 games with 10 or more points, she reached 15+ on 25 occasions and had 20+ six times. She now has 13 20-point efforts during her career to rank No. 9 all-time at UT.
  • Re ranked second in the SEC in points (541) and field goals made (209), third in field goal attempts (446) and points per game (18.0), fourth in free throw percentage (80.2) and fifth in rebounds (245) and rebounds per game (8.2). She was eighth in field goal percentage (46.9).
  • Davis' career rebounding (7.82) and scoring (14.9) averages rank No. 9 and No. 10, respectively, among anyone who has played for the Lady Vols. Her career free throw percentage (.804) ranks No. 10 as well.
  • Her 10 of 10 free throw effort vs. LSU on Jan. 26 was the best ever by a Lady Vol at Thompson-Boling Arena and ranked as the fourth-best effort in school history behind only perfect efforts with 13, 12 and 11 attempts from previous players.

MULTITUDE OF HONORS FOR DAVIS

  • Rennia Davis was named All-SEC First Team for the initial time in her career. She was a second-team honoree as a sophomore in 2018-19 and named to the SEC All-Freshman Team in 2017-18.
  • Davis earned AP, USBWA and WBCA All-America honorable mention acclaim.
  • She made the Cheryl Miller Award Top 10, the John R. Wooden Award Top 20, the Citizen Naismith Trophy Midseason Top 30 and the Wade Trophy Midseason Watch List. 
  • Davis earned SEC Player of the Week accolades three times, College Sports Madness SEC Player of the Week twice and USBWA National Player of the Week on one occasion.

HORSTON NAMED SEC ALL-FRESHMAN 

  • Jordan Horston was chosen for the SEC All-Freshman Team.
  • The 6-foot-2 guard averaged 10.1 points, 5.5 rebounds and 4.6 assists while starting 22 of 31 games and coming off the bench the final eight.
  • orston scored in double figures 15 times and led UT in assists on 21 occasions, tallying five or more dimes 17 times. 
  • She finished with 27 three-pointers, which ranked second only behind the 34 of Rennia Davis.
  • Her 143 assists and 4.6 assist average both rank second among all-time freshmen at Tennessee.
  • After one season on Rocky Top, Horston's 4.6 assist average ranks fourth on UT's career list.

KEY, LADY VOLS BIG ON BLOCKS

  • Tennessee recorded 215 blocked shots in 2019-20, which is the fourth-highest total in school history.
  • The Lady Vols finished the year ranked second in the SEC and nationally in blocks (215) and blocks per game (6.9).
  • Tamari Key recorded 86 blocked shots to tie Candace Parker for the fifth-most in a season in UT history and had the second-most ever by a Lady Vol freshman.
  • Key finished No. 1 in the SEC in blocked shots (86) and blocks per game (2.77) and ranked 11th and 13th in the NCAA in those categories, respectively.
  • Key's nine blocked shots at South Carolina and seven vs. Kentucky ranked as the second and fifth-best single games totals in school history.

THEY FOUND THE OPEN TEAMMATE 

  • Freshman Jordan Horston and sophomore Jazmine Massengill gave Tennessee a pair of guards each registering 100+ assists.
  • Horston dished out 143 and averaged 4.6 apg., while Massengill had 128 dimes and an average of 4.1 per contest.
  • Horston's 143 assists and 4.6 average both rank second all-time by a UT freshman, and she ranked fifth and fourth this season, respectively, among all SEC players and first among freshmen.
  • Massengill's 4.13 average and 128 assists ranked sixth and seventh among all-time UT sophomores, respectively, and she was sixth in the SEC in both categories in 2019-20.
  • She also had one of the nation's best assist-to-turnover ratios, ranking third in the SEC and 12th nationally at 2.67 to 1.
  • Massengill tied for UT's seventh-best all-time assist total, carding 12 vs. Missouri on Jan. 2, 2020.

JESSIE FOR THREE 

  • Reserve freshman guard Jessie Rennie fired in 25 three-pointers in 54 attempts to rank third on the team in treys made and first in three-point field goal percentage (.463).
  • Rennie's .463 three-point shooting percentage was the second-highest for a season in UT history behind only Dena Head (25-51, .490) and was the best by a Lady Vol (with at least 50 attempts) since Angie Bjorklund (.451) in 2010-11.

BURRELL SURGES IN SECOND SEASON

  • Sophomore Rae Burrell was the team's top reserve for the first 22 games before starting the final nine contests of the season.
  • Burrell finished as Tennessee's second-leading (active) scorer at 10.5 ppg. and rebounder at 5.5 rpg., tying with rookie Jordan Horston
  • The 6-1 wing scored in double figures 15 times, with nine games of 15+ points and three of 20+.
  • The Las Vegas native led UT in three-point shooting nine times and finished with 21 treys on the year to rank fifth on the team.

TEAM STRENGTHS, STATISTICALLY 

  • Besides being one of the best shot blocking teams in the nation, the Lady Vols were solid at rebounding, field goal percentage defense, assists and field goal percentage.
  • UT was second in the SEC and third nationally in rebounds (1,425) and rebounds per game (45.97), while ranking second in the SEC and fifth in the NCAA in rebound margin (10.7). Additionally, the Lady Vols were second in the SEC and 25th nationally in offensive rebounds per game (14.8).
  • The Lady Vols out-rebounded 25 of 31 opponents during the season and had eight players average better than 4.0 boards per game.
  • Tennessee ranked second in the SEC and sixth in the nation in field goal percentage defense (33.8) and was second in the SEC and 42nd in the NCAA in three-point field goal percentage defense (28.5).
  • UT allowed 60.3 points per game, which ranked 13th in school history. That contrasted the 2018-19 average of 69.1, which was the second-most allowed in Big Orange annals.
  • The Lady Vols led the SEC and were 23rd nationally in assists per game (16.3) and were second in the league and 23rd nationally in assists (506).
  • Tennessee finished fifth in the SEC and 37th nationally in field goal percentage (44.0).

BENCH PROVIDES BIG BOOST 

  • UT's bench outscored the opposing bench, 23.1 to 15.5 this season, winning the point battle 19 times in 31 games, including in seven of the last eight. 
  • In addition to Horston, Burrell and Rennie aiding this cause, Kasiyahna Kushkituah (5.4 ppg./4.4 rpg.) led a corps of reserves that also included Jaiden McCoyKamera Harris and Emily Saunders.

HARRIS RECOGNIZED FOR COMMUNITY SERVICE

  • Kamera Harris was named to the 2020 SEC Women's Basketball Community Service Team.
  • Harris participated in the Adopt-A-Family program, joining with team members to purchase and deliver gifts at Christmas. She also helped serve the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee's (SAAC) Community Holiday Meal, providing food to the less fortunate during the holiday season, and she welcomed youngsters to the UT campus for Voloween, a Halloween celebration for kids in UT's Neyland-Thompson Sports Complex that is organized by SAAC.
  • Additionally, Harris supported the Race for the Summitt 5K, which was held to raise awareness and support for the Pat Summitt Foundation, an organization named for the late, legendary Lady Vol coach that is at the forefront for finding a cure for Alzheimer's. Other activities have included volunteering time at the Boys and Girls Club, participating in the Down Syndrome Awareness Group of East Tennessee's Hoops For Hope, decorating Christmas cookies with kids at East Tennessee Children's Hospital, volunteering at the Fantasy of Trees East Tennessee Children's Hospital fundraiser, assisting in the Cole's Launch paper airplane contest for patients at East Tennessee Children's Hospital, and celebrating and dancing with teens suffering from chronic illnesses at the East Tennessee Children's Hospital's "One Unforgettable Night." 

SENIOR SALUTE

  • UT said goodbye to seniors Lou Brown and Kamera Harris. They were honored in Senior Night ceremonies prior to the Ole Miss game on Feb. 27.
  • Brown was a graduate transfer from Washington State who was supposed to contribute in 2018-19, but a torn ACL suffered in preseason practice ended her season before it started. 
  • She was granted a sixth season of eligibility by the NCAA and started 30 of 31 games for UT, averaging 4.6 points and 4.6 rebounds. The 6-foot-3 forward was fourth on the team with 22 three-pointers and shot 41 percent from the field and 86 percent from the charity stripe.
  • Harris, also 6-3, played in a career-most 28 games, carving out a role as a reserve after moving from center to forward prior to her final season. 
  • She averaged 1.6 points and 1.4 rebounds for the year and played very well in the win over No. 15/14 Notre Dame, with six points and four rebounds, and vs. Texas, with six points and three boards.
  • Brown and Harris, who earned her bachelor's degree in three years, both spent their final season on Rocky Top putting the finishing touches on master's degrees in communication and information with concentration in journalism and electronic media.

ATTENDANCE NUMBERS WERE UP

  • Tennessee averaged 8,645 in home attendance in 2019-20 to rank sixth nationally. That was up one spot over last year's 8,028 per game.
  • After having no home crowds over 10,000 a year ago, Tennessee had three crowds better than 10K this season, including 12,738 vs. Texas A&M, 10,230 vs. LSU and 10,036 vs. Georgia.
  • The 12,738 on hand for Texas A&M was the most at home since Feb. 25, 2018, when 13,058 witnessed Tennessee's victory over South Carolina.
  • The Lady Vols played in front of three of the nation's seven largest crowds in 2019-20, including 13,735 at South Carolina (2nd), 13,659 vs. UConn in Hartford (3rd) and 12,738 vs. Texas A&M in Knoxville (6th).

RIVALRY RENEWED

  • The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame organized a renewal of the historic series between Tennessee and UConn. 
  • As part of the two-year series, UConn hosted UT on Jan. 23, with a portion of the proceeds benefiting the Pat Summitt Foundation and the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. The Lady Vols led 31-28 at the half, but #3/5 UConn came back to win, 60-45, in Hartford.
  • During the 2020-21 season, the Lady Vols will host the Huskies in Knoxville (date to be determined), with a portion of the proceeds again benefiting the Pat Summitt Foundation and the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

UT SIGNS TWO IN EARLY SIGNING PERIOD

  • UT signed a pair of four-star perimeter players in 6-0 guard Destiny Salary (Jonesboro, Ark./Jonesboro H.S.) and 6-1 guard/forward Tess Darby (Greenfield, Tenn./Greenfield H.S.). 
  • Salary is ranked as a four-star guard by both espnW HoopGurlz and ProspectsNation.com. She is the No. 59-rated overall player and the No. 17 guard, according to HoopGurlz. ProspectsNation.com has Salary rated No. 92 overall and No. 20 among guards. 
  • Darby, meanwhile, earned four stars from ProspectsNation.com. She is rated as the No. 33 guard and the No. 144 player overall. She is listed as a three star by espnW HoopGurlz, ranking as the No. 29 guard in the class.

EUROPEAN TRIP

  • Tennessee went 3-0 on a trip to Western Europe from August 5-15, 2019.
  • UT traveled to The Netherlands, Belgium and France on the excursion that balanced practice, games, academics and visits to tourist sites.
  • The Lady Vols defeated Dozy BV Den Helder in the city of Den Helder, Netherlands, 97-45, on Aug. 8. They then cruised by KBBC Upkot Sparta Laarne in Laarne, Belgium, 106-64, on Aug. 10. UT closed out the tour in France by rolling past AK Select in the village of Brétigny-sur-Orge, 93-43, on Aug. 13.

Randy Smith: I Am Ashamed

Tazewell Produces New UCRA Points Leaders - Hall And Holtzclaw

Dan Fleser: Ryan Callahan Has Had Plenty To Write About


I am ashamed, so ashamed. I'm ashamed that I am part of what is being called "White Privilege" in our country. I am ashamed at what our once great nation has become in the last several years.....racists ... (click for more)

Sunday's results from the United Championship Racing Alliance: Melvin Corum Memorial at Tazewell Speedway presented by Red Line Synthetic Oil produced not only a new points leader, yet also a ... (click for more)

While many of his sportswriting peers – myself included – often have been left searching for stories this spring, Ryan Callahan has been reporting and writing full throttle. He covers Tennessee ... (click for more)



Sports

Randy Smith: I Am Ashamed

I am ashamed, so ashamed. I'm ashamed that I am part of what is being called "White Privilege" in our country. I am ashamed at what our once great nation has become in the last several years.....racists emboldened by leadership .......failure to acknowledge the wrong-doings of people in power.......greed.....the lack of respect shown to our neighbors.....the lack of love shown to ... (click for more)

Tazewell Produces New UCRA Points Leaders - Hall And Holtzclaw

Sunday's results from the United Championship Racing Alliance: Melvin Corum Memorial at Tazewell Speedway presented by Red Line Synthetic Oil produced not only a new points leader, yet also a new Rookie of the Year points head man. Alabama's Kasey Hall (# 38) ran second for most of the feature, but allowed Jason Trammell (a local hot-shoe) to get by him for what would be his second ... (click for more)

Breaking News

Hamilton County Has One-Day Record 96 Coronavirus Cases; Hospitalizations (29) And Those In Intensive Care (17) Also At Record High

Hamilton County on Friday reported 96 more positive COVID-19 cases - the largest one-day total yet. That brings the total of confirmed cases in the county since the virus broke out in March to 939. There are 29 coronavirus patients in Chattanooga hospitals, which is the largest number yet. There are 17 coronavirus patients in Intensive Care in Chattanooga hospitals - also ... (click for more)

24 Patients, 1 Staff Member Test Positive For Coronavirus At NHC Rossville

Twenty four patients have tested positive for coronavirus at a retirement center in Rossville. Officials also said a staff member tested positive at NHC HealthCare. A second employee is being checked, officials said. None of the patients have been transferred to the hospital, the facility said. Officials said the majority of those who tested positive are not showing ... (click for more)

Opinion

A New Low For Bureaucratic Dysfunction - And Response

Forced emissions testing – a new low for bureaucratic dysfunction. In our old way of living, there were two certainties: Death and taxes. In our new world, the government is giving some relief from taxes but has chosen to substitute vehicle emissions testing. Now the two certainties are death and emissions testing. In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, which is sickening ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: The Saturday Funnies

Erma Bombeck, surely one of the greatest newspaper columnists in our lifetime, once decreed, "When humor goes, there goes civilization." With a new spate of disappointing news this week, it is easy to see the sage Erma was right, and thus we welcome this week’s newest edition of The Saturday Funnies. As longtime readers are aware, the Funnies are a collection of the nameless missives ... (click for more)