Jordan Horston scored 19 punti con 11 rebounds and No. 5 Tennessee overcame a sluggish first half to beat No. 13 Georgia 63-55 on Sunday in a key SEC game.
Georgia did not score in the final 4:10 and missed its last 10 shots from the field. In particolare, Tamari Key, the Lady Vols’ 6-foot-6 center who had been listed as questionable due to an ankle injury, was on the floor during the decisive closing stretch.
“We had Tamari in the game for that period and that made a difference,” Harper said. “… I told our team we won this one with our defense.”
Tennessee (18-1, 7-0 SEC) trailed by nine points late in the first half before recovering for its ninth consecutive win. The Lady Vols have their best start since opening the 2007-08 season with a 22-1 disco.
Burrell had 13 points in her first start since missing most of the first half of the season after a knee injury in the opening game.
Jenna Staiti led Georgia (15-4, 4-3) con 16 punti. Que Morrison had 14 punti.
Morrison’s free throw for Georgia cut Tennessee’s lead to 57-55. The Lady Bulldogs were scoreless the remainder of the game.
While limited perhaps more by foul problems than the ankle injury that kept her out of practice this week, Key played only 21 minutes and had eight points. The junior made the most of her playing time, changing Georgia’s shots near the basket.
“ci sono abituato, I’ve played against her so many times,” said Staiti, a 6-foot-4 senior. “Having someone taller than me … she does a great job of altering my shot. At the last second she’s tipping it.”
A basket by Morrison allowed Georgia to match its big lead of nine points at 32-23. Tennessee scored the final eight points of the first half, capped by a buzzer-beating drive by Horston, to cut the Lady Bulldogs’ lead to 32-31.
“We stopped complaining,” said Horston of the Lady Vols’ turnaround. “We stopped letting the refs get in our heads. We were mad about some stuff. We can’t play like that. We started playing tough, started crashing the boards.”
Horston posted her team-leading ninth double-double. She blocked five shots and had four assists and three steals.
“She did everything for us,” Harper said. “That’s what she’s been doing recently.”
Tennessee: The Lady Vols rank last in the SEC with a minus-2.61 turnover margin, and giveaways were a problem. Tennessee’s 21 turnovers, Compreso 15 in the first half, led to 18 points — all in the firs thalf — for Georgia. The Lady Vols scored 25 points off Georgia’s 18 turnovers.
Georgia: The cold shooting to end the game left the Lady Bulldogs at 33% shooting from the field for the game. … Freshman F Jillian Hollingshead missed her second consecutive game with an illness not related to COVID-19. Assistant coach Chelsea Newton missed the game with an illness.
NEW INJURY CONCERN
Tennessee backup center Kenyen Green was escorted to the locker room after suffering an apparent knee injury following a hard fall late in the third quarter. Harper said after the game she had no update on Green’s status.
GRAND OLD RIVALRY
Georgia coach Joni Taylor called the Lady Bulldogs’ series with Tennessee “one of the grand old rivalries.” Georgia was denied its first three-game winning streak in the series since 1984-86.
“They’re playing the best basketball I’ve seen Tennessee play in a long time and credit to her,” said Taylor of Harper.
Complessivamente, Tennessee leads the series 52-19.
Tennessee: Visits Auburn on Thursday night.
Georgia: Visits Mississippi on Sunday.