Lady Vols win overtime thriller over Arkansas

Published 11:40 pm Monday, January 31, 2022

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KNOXVILLE – Battling back from a 13-point deficit, the Lady Vols defeated Arkansas 86-83 in overtime Monday night at Thompson-Boling Arena.
Tennessee (19-2, 8-1 SEC) found key offense from a number of contributors. Jordan Horston scored 24 points to lead the Big Orange, while Rae Burrell was clutch down the stretch, sinking 17 of her 21 points in the second half and overtime. Tamari Key got it done at the line, making a career-best eight free throws in a 14-point night.
Horston’s energy showed on both ends of the floor, as she also pulled down 11 rebounds and tallied 40 minutes on the floor, a career high. It was Horston’s 10th double-double of the year.
Entering Monday night’s games, only 26 players in Division I had 10 or more double-doubles and only eight play at Power 5 programs.
Another big night came from Sara Puckett off the bench. The freshman logged 10 points and a career-high 10 boards, with nine coming on the defensive end for her first career double-double. The 6-foot-2 freshman blocked two shots, her first game with multiple swats on Rocky Top.
Tennessee kicked into gear in the fourth quarter, taking its first lead of the game with 7:46 left in the frame. The Razorbacks (14-7, 4-4 SEC) hung around as the teams went back-and-forth with six lead changes and four ties in the final period of regulation.
The Lady Vols owned the boards on the evening, pulling down 60. Monday night’s contest marked the first SEC game with 60 rebounds or more since the Lady Vols had 62 against Ole Miss on Feb. 6, 2003. It also marked the first time since the 2013-14 season the Lady Vols had three games with 60 or more boards.
Arkansas’ offense was powered by Amber Ramirez who scored 29 points on 9-of-17 shooting, including 5-of-9 from beyond the arc.The first quarter was a battle with both offenses creating chances and converting through some tough defense.
The Lady Vols made an offensive push in the middle of the period, going on a 10-3 run lasting four minutes and 39 seconds. Six different Lady Vols also got in the score column in the period.
Tennessee’s offense was held in check in the second quarter, scoring 13 in the frame, but the defense kept it to within three possessions. Alexus Dye gave the Lady Vols some momentum going into the half, as she tipped in a put-back layup as the horn sounded, cutting the Arkansas advantage to 41-32, at the break.
The Lady Vols started to find some offensive rhythm in the middle of the third quarter, scoring on three straight possessions. Puckett knocked down a 3-pointer with 66 seconds left in the quarter to put some life in the Big Orange faithful heading to the final frame.
Horston also found her offensive flow in the quarter, sinking nine points while Jordan Walker added five rebounds out of the backcourt.Tennessee exploded to start the fourth, Walker knocked down a trey with just under eight minutes left in the game to tie it, then Burrell intercepted a Razorback pass and took it to the rack for the first Lady Vol lead of the game.
Key’s strong night at the line was on display, as she drained two clutch free throws with 26 seconds left to put UT up, 75-73.  Ramirez, however, drew a foul and hit both free throws to knot it up at 75 with six ticks remaining.
Horston had a crack at a bucket in the paint with a second left, but it was just off the mark, sending the game to overtime.The back-and-forth play continued in overtime. Tennessee connected on the first blow, as Key made an early layup, followed by a Burrell 3-ball and a Key and-1.
Arkansas struck back, though, tying the game again with 1:36 left. A determined effort by Horston finished the job, as she scored three points in the final minute and helped lock up the Razorback offense, finishing off the Tennessee win.
The Lady Vols take to the road for a two-game swing, starting with Florida on Thursday with tip-off scheduled for 6 p.m. at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center, followed by a noon Sunday matinee in Hartford vs. UConn.
Tennessee returns to Rocky Top next Thursday to host Missouri at 6:30 p.m.
MOVING ON UPTamari Key swatted four shots against the Razorbacks, moving her season total to 80 and career total to 238. She passes Sheila Frost (77) to rank seventh in single-season blocks and creeps within 11 of Frost’s career total of 249 that ranks second all-time among Lady Vols.
 SARA SETTLING IN: Freshman Sara Puckett put up 10 points and 10 rebounds for her first career double-double against UA, finding her way into double digits for the first time since dropping a career-high 19 against ETSU on Dec. 20. It’s her sixth performance with 10 or more points this season and the first against an SEC opponent.
THAT GIRL IS ON FIRE: Junior Jordan Horston recorded her 10th double-double and fifth 20+-point game of the season against Arkansas. Five of those double-doubles and three of her 20+ point performances have come in SEC play. She currently averages 17.6 ppg., 10.1 rbg. and 4.3 apg. against conference foes.
OWNING THE PAINT: The Lady Vols out-rebounded UA 60-40, marking the third game of the season in which they’ve pulled down 60 or more boards. Twenty of those boards were on the offensive end, translating into season-high-tying 27 second-chance points.
Tennessee held Arkansas to just six second-chance points, the third-lowest allowed this season, and it’s the third time over the last four games that UT has secured 20+ offensive rebounds.
CARDIAC KIDS: Tennessee overcame its largest deficit of the season against the Razorbacks, erasing a 13-point third-quarter deficit to claim its second overtime win and 18th come-from-behind win of the season.

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