Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Tennessee blasts Arkansas women’s basketball in Knoxville | Whole Hog Sports

Must read

Thompson-Boling Arena continued to be a house of horrors for the Arkansas women’s basketball team.

The Razorbacks dropped to 2-17 all-time at the home of the Lady Volunteers with an 81-55 loss to Tennessee in a game that was never close Monday night in Knoxville, Tenn.

Tennessee led for all but 27 seconds and improved its record against Arkansas to 35-5. It is the Razorbacks’ most lopsided series against any SEC team.

The Razorbacks (17-9, 5-6 SEC) lost consecutive games for the first time this season and fell into a tie with Vanderbilt for eighth place in the league. Arkansas was defeated 85-81 last Thursday at Florida.

“Our good is good enough to beat a lot of people in the country,” Arkansas coach Mike Neighbors said. “Our bad is not. Our bad is bad, and we’ve been fighting that all year.”

Arkansas fell victim to a recurring theme of starting slow. Before the game was three minutes old, the Razorbacks trailed the Lady Vols 12-0. It was the fifth time in conference play Arkansas has fallen behind by at least nine points in the first quarter.

The opening stanza set the tone for what was to come.

The closest the Razorbacks got to the Lady Vols was 29-21 with 4:42 left in the second quarter, but an 11-3 run by Tennessee left Arkansas trailing 40-23 at halftime.

Tennessee (15-8, 8-3) outscored the Razorbacks 41-31 in the second half and won in runaway fashion to tie LSU for second place in the SEC.

Lady Vols star forward Rickea Jackson, a preseason All-SEC selection and projected WNBA first-round pick, scored 17 of her team-high 21 points in the first half. She finished 7 of 17 from the floor, including 1 of 2 from three-point range, and was 6 of 8 from the foul line.

Tennessee made as many three-pointers as the Razorbacks, and did so in 20 fewer attempts. Arkansas was 8 of 35 (22.9%) from beyond the arc, and the Lady Vols were an efficient 8 of 15 (53.3%).

“On nights like [tonight], we have to shoot three well,” Neighbors said. “We did not. We didn’t shoot it good enough. We probably figured half our shots were going to be threes. We know they’re not going to foul us at the rim.”

Arkansas, which predicates its offense on layups, free throws and three-pointers, had none of those components going. 

Along with the woes from three-point range, the Razorbacks were 6 of 16 on layups and were 3 of 5 from the stripe.

“We usually get to the foul line 18 to 20 times,” Neighbors said. “We knew those were going to be hard to come by.”

It was a season-low 55 points for the Razorbacks, who shot 31.9% from the floor and saw 11 turnovers turn into 14 points for Tennessee.

The Lady Vols outscored Arkansas in the paint 34-16 and made 17 of 21 free throws.

Arkansas was out-rebounded 57-29 and gave up 15 second-chance points on 16 Tennessee offensive boards.

“It’s Tennessee basketball,” Neighbors said. “You know they’re going to rebound. They don’t recruit kids that don’t try to rebound. They coach it. [Coach Kellie Harper] has built around it. You know it’s going to come.”

The Lady Vols improved to 10-3 since Jackson, who missed eight games in non-conference play due to a lower leg injury, returned to action. It was an important win for Tennessee, which plays top-ranked South Carolina twice and No. 13 LSU over final stretch of the regular season.

“This is a Tennessee team that we always seem to catch them when they’re full strength,” Neighbors said. “We always seem to catch them when everybody’s available and there’s no injury reports. It’s a team I think will peak at the right time.”

Freshman guard Taliah Scott led Arkansas with a team-high 23 points on 10-of-27 (37%) shooting, and Maryam Dauda added 10 points and 5 rebounds.

Lady Vols forward Jillian Hollingshead (14 points) and guard Jewel Spear (13) rounded out the double-figure scoring for Tennessee.

Arkansas is scheduled to host Missouri on Sunday at 3 p.m.

Latest article