Tennessee erases 13-point deficit to surge past Mizzou
GREENVILLE, S.C. - No. 6 seed Tennessee overcame a 13-point second-quarter deficit and ended up winning by 13, in a 64-51 victory over 11th-seeded Missouri in the second round of the SEC Tournament at Bon Secours Wellness Arena on Thursday night. The Lady Vols advance to play No. 3 seed Kentucky (21-7) at 8:15 p.m. on Friday in the SEC Third Round.
UT (21-9), which won its fourth straight game, put three players in double figures. Sophomore Rae Burrell led the team with 16 points, and juniors Rennia Davis and Kasiyahna Kushkituah finished with 15 and 13, respectively.
Missouri (9-22) was led by Aijha Blackwell with 13 and Hannah Schuchts with 11.
The Tigers got off to a hot start with Blackwell and Jordan Roundtree combining for nine points to give Missouri a seven-point lead four minutes in before Rennia Davis knocked down a long-range jumper to end the Mizzou run and pull the score to 9-4 at the media timeout. Following the timeout Blackwell converted on a three, but Kushkituah got the put-back on the other end and freshman Jordan Horston followed it up with a driving layup on the next possession to move the score to 12-8 with just under two minutes remaining in the quarter. The Tigers answered with a 5-0 run before redshirt junior Jaiden McCoy hit a pair free throws to send UT into the second period trailing 17-10.
Mizzou struck first to start the second quarter, but Kushkituah rallied UT, scoring five-straight points to pull the Big Orange within four just 1:15 in. The Tigers bounced back with a 9-0 run to lead by 13 at the 5:10 mark before the Lady Vols outscored Missouri 11-6 to close the half down by eight at 34-26.
Freshman Tamari Key was the first to score in the second half, putting in a turn-around jumper that Burrell followed up with a baseline three to pull UT within three just over a minute into play. A minute and a half later Davis converted on an old fashioned three-point play to tie the score at 34-all. Mizzou built its lead back up to six off free throws and a Jordan Chavis layup before Burrell scored seven-straight points to give UT its first lead of the game at 41-40 with 3:39 left in the period. Burrell scored two more points on a running jumper, and Kushkituah and Horston each added buckets to extend the Tennessee run to 13-0 and stretch the lead to 47-40. Jazmine Massengill beat the shot clock to score the final bucket of the quarter and put the score at 49-40 heading into the final stanza.
Davis hit a free throw at the start of the fourth to stretch the Lady Vols' run to 16-0 before Hayley Frank posted a 3-point play to cut the score to 43-50. Kushkituah stretched the lead back to nine before the media timeout, but Schuchts hit a three to cut the deficit to six with 4:52 left in the game. Horston and Davis combined for four-straight points for UT to boost the lead back to 10 by the 2:39 mark. Mizzou scrapped back within seven off free throws, but Tennessee closed out the game with an 8-2 run to win 64-51.