Harper and Kushkituah Lady Vols

Tennessee women's basketball coach Kellie Harper with Kasiyahna Kushkituah (11).during an NCAA women’s basketball game between the Tennessee Lady Vols and Connecticut Huskies in Knoxville, Tenn. on Thursday, January 21, 2021.

The No. 20 Tennessee women’s basketball team will host Auburn this Sunday for its last regular-season game of 2021. The Lady Vols enter the final week with a 14-6 (8-4 SEC) record, while the Tigers own a 5-17 (0-14 SEC) record.

Here are four things to know for the game.

Last time out

Thursday night in Colombia, the Lady Vols took care of business, defeating Mizzou 78-73. Missouri led for three quarters of the game, and entered the fourth ahead by five. Senior Rennia Davis took charge of Tennessee’s offense, and led her team to the comeback.

Davis scored 26 points all in the second half, including 20 in the fourth quarter, to power the Lady Vols past the Tigers. She shot 10-17 from the field as well as 40% from three-point range. Davis’ fourth quarter barrage included an eight-minute stretch that she dropped 17 points.

Just behind Davis in scoring was the junior Rae Burrell. She took charge of the first half, as Davis struggled to start the night. Burrell scored 18 first half points, and had two makes from deep. In the third quarter, Burrell landed hard on her ankle, and had to be helped off the court. She did come back into the game, but was not the same player, as she added just five more points, totaling 23 on the night.

Davis and Burrell have been an impressive scoring duo all season. On the season, they have accounted for 53.2% of the teams total scoring, and Thursday they combined for 49 of the team’s 78 points against Mizzou.

“I think they complement each other great,” head coach Kellie Harper said on Davis and Burrell. “I think they can play off each other when they’re both on the court. A lot of teams have to choose who they’re going to put their best defender on. That’s tough, because you can get scored on both sides of the floor with those two.”

Senior night

As the last regular season home game, Sunday will also serve as senior night. The Lady Vols have three seniors this season-- Davis, Kasiyahna Kushkituah and Jaiden McCoy.

Davis has had an amazing season to cap off a tremendous career at Tennessee. She is averaging 16.5 points per game and a team leading 8.6 rebounds per game. Davis has recorded seven double-doubles this season, giving her 36 for her career, which ties her with Glory Johnson for fourth in school history.

Kushkituah has had a solid senior season for Tennessee. She is averaging 6.1 points and 6.3 points per game. The Atlanta, Georgia native has gotten into every game for the Lady Vols this season, and has started the last six games.

McCoy has played just three games this season, in her second year at Tennessee since transferring from Northwest Florida State. McCoy averaged 13 minutes of action in her three games, before suffering a head injury that ultimately kept her out for the year. On Dec. 10 gainst Furman, McCoy shot a perfect 3-3 from beyond the arc, totaling a season-high nine points.

“I’ve been thinking about it. It’s just crazy,” Davis said on her upcoming final game. “I don’t want to go too in depth, cause I’ll get emotional. But that game on Sunday is going to be very special for me and all of my teammates, especially the seniors.”

Scouting the Tigers

The Tigers limp into Knoxville for their final game of the regular-season. Their schedule has not been kind to them, to say the least. After a promising 5-2 start through mid-December, Auburn has lost 15 consecutive games, and is seeking its first conference win.

Auburn has two players averaging in double-figures this season. Unique Thompson averages a double-double of 18.2 points and 13.3 rebounds per game. Honesty Scott-Grayson is second, averaging 14.9 points per game.

“You watch them, very similar to Mizzou.” Harper said on Auburn. “They’ve been in a lot of games, and teams have been able to pull it out late. Thus the no wins. But you don’t like playing a team that hasn’t won, especially a team as good as Auburn, considering their record.”

Seeding for the tournament

This game is important to Tennessee for more than just senior night, as it will determine important seeding in the upcoming SEC Tournament. The Lady Vols control their own destiny with regards to clinching a top-4 seed, which would guarantee them a double-bye.

If they beat Auburn, they secure the No. 3 seed, and would play the winner of the No. 6/11 game. If Tennessee loses, depending on other teams’ outcomes, it could have anywhere from the No. 3 to No. 5 seeds, which would not give them the double-bye.

The best thing for the Lady Vols would be to take care of business against an 0-14 conference team in Auburn, so they can rest until Friday night. Tip off is set for 2 p.m. ET and will be broadcast on SEC Network

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