Revamped: Tennessee vs. UConn
By: Daniel Morgan; Junior Staff Writer
The All Vol Call in Show
On Thursday, Jan. 23, the Tennessee Lady Volunteers will face the Connecticut Lady Huskies.
This game figures to be a great match up, with the Lady Vols ranked 23 in the country while the Huskies are ranked 3.
Looking past Thursday, it’s easy to see why this match-up means so much to each side.
Together, these two teams have a combined 19 national championships. They are also ranked one and two in weeks spent at the number one spot, with UConn having spent 245 weeks, and Tennessee having spent 112 weeks at the top rank in the polls all time.
Thursday will be the first time these two teams have met since 2007, when the legendary Pat Summitt was still the head coach at Tennessee.
The rivalry ended on bad terms, with Uconn head coach Geno Auriemma saying “She (Pat Summitt) accused us of cheating. She just doesn’t have the courage to say it publicly.” In 2012, the tensions settled as Pat Summitt and Geno Auriemma shared a hug at the final four in Denver.
The Rivalry Returns on a Fiery Start:
On August 14, 2018 Tennessee and Uconn announced the resumption of the series, with 2020 being played in Hartford, and 2021 being played in Knoxville.
Part of the proceeds from each game will go to The Pat Summitt Foundation. On May 10, 2019 Lady Vol guard Evina Westbrook announced she would transfer from Tennessee to Uconn, and seek immediate eligibility.
In November of 2019, Uconn announced Westbrook’s waiver had been denied by the NCAA.
Auriemma did not take kindly to the waiver being denied, and made multiple comments about the NCAA and Tennessee. Auriemma stated “If you knew what the environment was, which I can’t say, you would not want your kid in that environment.”
Auriemma also indicated that Tennessee Athletic Director Phillip Fulmer was not being completely honest about his involvement in Westbrook’s transfer.
These comments of course rekindled the fire of this great rivalry, and gives Thursday's game a feel of the 2000’s matchups between the two teams.
By the Numbers:
Heading into Thursday’s game Tennessee is ranked 23 in the nation, while Uconn is ranked 3. Stat wise, Thursday’s game is pretty even. Both teams are averaging almost 80 points a game, with Tennessee averaging 75 points a game, and Uconn averaging 79.
In shooting percentages, the numbers are relatively close as well, with Tennessee shooting 46% on field goals, 34% from three, and 66% from the free throw line.
UConn is shooting 48% as far as field goals go, 39% from three, and 70% from the line.
One place of interest is the turnover game, where Tennessee is losing the turnover battle, averaging six steals a game but giving away nearly nine, UConn is averaging nine steals a game, and giving away only six. Which makes this game even more interesting, given that UConn already averages more points off of turnovers than Tennessee.