The University of Tennessee women’s basketball team will travel to Columbia, Missouri to play the Tigers for their final away game of the regular season. The No. 21/21 Lady Vols have an overall regular-season record of 13-6 and an SEC record of 7-4. Mizzou sits one game below .500 at 8-9 and is 4-8 in the SEC.
Tennessee is coming off a tough loss to No. 22/23 Georgia. The Lady Vols struggled offensively, despite Rennia Davis’ 22 point performance. Rae Burrell dropped 10 points but needed 17 shots to do so. Tamari Key was the third-highest scorer with nine points, five of which came from the free-throw line.
Georgia, like Tennessee, struggled on the offensive side. The Bulldogs were led by Gabby Connally who tallied a game-high 24 points but threw up 21 shots to get there. Que Morrison was next with 11 points on 11 shots. Jenna Staiti shot the ball 13 times and made just three shots for a total of six points.
"Well, Rennia was able to, in our South Carolina game, be a go-to player in that second half,” Tennessee head coach Kellie Harper said. “We got her the basketball. She was feeling good, knocking down shots, making plays. She really got us back ahead and pushed us over the top. At Georgia, when we were stagnant early, she was one of the players actually making some shots. It wasn't easy. People were keying in on her and trying to make things tough for her, but I love to see that she is still able to find ways to be successful and be productive."
As mentioned above, neither team performed particularly well on offense. Overall, Tennessee shot 28.8% from the field and 15.4% from three. Georgia shot 33.3% through four quarters and 30% from behind the arc.
Missouri is coming off a 96-80 win against Florida on Sunday afternoon. During the game, they drained a program-record 18 three-pointers. The last time they accomplished this feat was against Auburn on Jan. 16, 2013.
"Obviously, Missouri's offense relies heavily on their ability to shoot the basketball, and their spacing is great,” Harper said. “The other thing you can always count on, and I think you see it, they improve in this area all year in that they are really intelligent. So, whatever defensive game plan they have, they will execute it.”
Mizzou had three players score 20+ points. Hayley Frank led the pack with 26 points (6-8 from three), six boards and two steals. Aijha Blackwell was next with a double-double of 21 points and 14 rebounds. Shug Dickson rounded out the trio with 20 points off of the bench. Shannon Dufficy was one point off of reaching the 20 point mark as she drained 19 (5-7 from three).
The Tigers went on an offensive explosion Sunday afternoon against Florida. They shot 52.9% from the field and 64.3% from deep. They never shot worse than 40% in any quarter — 44.4% in the fourth was the lowest — and they hit 7-9 three-pointers in the third quarter, on their way to 32 total points in that quarter.
“They can give you a variety of looks because their kids are pretty savvy,” Harper said. “They're also really tough. They're just tough, and they are going to make hustle plays all night. They're going to know what they need to do to be successful. So, I think matchup-wise, they can pose some problems, because they can play five perimeter players."
Thursday's matchup will be the 15th meeting between the two programs. Currently, Tennessee holds an 11-3 edge going back to Jan. 14, 1978. The last time these two teams played was in the SEC Tournament in Greenville, S.C., on March 5, 2020.
During the game, the No. 6 seeded Tennessee defeated the No. 11 seeded Missouri after being down 13 in the second quarter. Rae Burrell finished with a team-high 16 points, while Rennia Davis and Kasiyahna Kuskituah followed behind with 15 and 13, respectively. Missouri was backed by Aijha Blackwell who tallied 13 points and Hannah Schuchts with 11 points.
Tipoff is set for 8 p.m. ET and will be broadcast on SECN+.