Preview via Tennessee Athletics:
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee (16-6, 8-0 SEC), which is receiving votes in both major polls this week, steps outside conference play to meet old rival #5/4 UConn (18-2, 11-0 BIG EAST) on Thursday at 8:03 p.m. ET inside Thompson-Boling Arena in Knoxville.
UT and UConn will meet for the 26th time in a series that dates back to 1995, with the Huskies holding a 16-9 advantage and winning the past three meetings between the programs since the series resumed in 2020 after a 13-year hiatus.
Kellie Harper’s squad enters on a nine-game winning streak and has been victorious in 14 of its past 16 contests, with its only two losses coming vs. (then) No. 9/9 Virginia Tech (59-56) on Dec. 4 and at No. 2/2 Stanford on Dec. 18 (77-70). A UT win vs. UConn would make for the longest winning streak by the Lady Vols since a 15-game string from Nov. 12, 2017, to Jan. 11, 2018. It also would be the longest win spree of the Kellie Harper era, supplanting a pair of nine-game runs a year ago.
Through eight games in league play, UT remains tied atop the SEC standings along with No. 1/1 South Carolina and No. 4/3 LSU at 8-0. It is the Lady Vols’ best conference start since they went 13-0 in 2014-15 en route to a 15-1 league record and regular-season title.
With Jordan Horston out sick on Sunday in Columbia, Tennessee managed to remain perfect in SEC play by getting a layup from Jordan Walker, a three-pointer from Sara Puckett and a turn-around jumper “and-1” from Rickea Jackson over the final minute to secure a 68-65 victory. Jackson’s bucket and free throw came with a second remaining.
Despite a season plagued with injuries, UConn rolls in to Rocky Top on an 11-game winning streak, with its only losses on the year coming at home to #7/7 Notre Dame (74-60) on Dec. 4 and at #20/21 Maryland (85-78) on Dec. 11. The Huskies had no trouble at home with DePaul on Monday night, crushing the Blue Demons, 94-51, with four players scoring in double figures.
The only common foe on the teams’ schedules is South Carolina, which UConn hosts on Feb. 5 and Tennessee welcomes to T-BA on Feb. 23.