Tennessee Vols morning report: Spring practice begins, Women’s SEC Tournament continues

KNOXVILLE, TN - SEPTEMBER 09: Tennessee Volunteers fans cheer during the first half of the game against the Indiana State Sycamores at Neyland Stadium on September 9, 2017 in Knoxville, Tennessee. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
KNOXVILLE, TN - SEPTEMBER 09: Tennessee Volunteers fans cheer during the first half of the game against the Indiana State Sycamores at Neyland Stadium on September 9, 2017 in Knoxville, Tennessee. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

The Tennessee Vols football team beginning spring practice and the women’s basketball SEC Tournament lead our Volunteers news for Friday, March 8, 2019.

You can’t get more fully in the swing of spring sports than we are at this moment when it comes to the Tennessee Vols. The football team has returned to the practice field, so get ready for three weeks of insane news with them and basketball postseason stories.

Our morning update on Rocky Top leads with the football team back at practice, but we’re also going to update you on the Lady Vols as they have begun postseason play. Meanwhile, the men’s team preparing for its final regular season game also brings along some news.

Beyond that, we have tons of other previews to bring you, including weekend series in baseball and softball along with a recap and preview in men’s tennis and a preview in women’s tennis. National recognition for another basketball player along with track and field postseason previews are also on the list. So let’s get started with the football news.

Tennessee football begins spring practice – Dan Harralson, VolsWire.com

The Tennessee Vols football team began spring practice on Thursday heading into head coach Jeremy Pruitt’s second year. Pruitt provided plenty of news afterward, including the fact that guys like Brandon Kennedy is day to day but can practice, Jeremy Banks is staying on offense, and Quavaris Crouch is starting out at inside linebacker. Here are other injury updates he provided.

"Darrin Kirkland is getting some work done on his knee, just from a rehab standpoint, and Eric Gray had shoulder surgery. Tyus Fields had a little procedure done back during Christmas. He could possibly be back. Chris Akporoghene is going to miss the first couple of days of spring practice. Kurott Garland will be back out there soon. So, we’ve got a few guys out, but not as many as we had last year."

Tennessee Lady Vols advance in SEC Tournament – SECSports.com

The No. 8 seed Tennessee women’s basketball team held off the No. 9 seed LSU Tigers Thursday 69-66 to improve to 19-11 advance in the SEC Tournament. Still very much on the bubble, they have a major opportunity to make a statement Friday with a noon showdown against the No. 1 seed Mississippi State Bulldogs, who are a top 5 team nationally. The Lady Vols won Thursday despite being down 35-28 at halftime. They got 20 points from Evina Westbrook and 19 from Rennia Davis.

"Tennessee opened the second half with a 10-4 run to get within one but didn’t get over the hump until the fourth quarter. A Davis 3-pointer got the lead to five and Westbrook made it six with less than two minutes to go but LSU got the deficit down to a possession in the final minute. Westbrook made a nifty drive with 40.8 seconds to go to make it a two possession game."

Rick Barnes previews Auburn – Grant Ramey, GoVols247

The Tennessee Vols men’s basketball team will travel to Auburn to take on the Tigers Saturday for its final regular season game of the year. Ranked No. 5 in the nation and at 27-3 and 15-2 in the SEC, a win guarantees them a tie for the SEC regular season championship, but to get the overall No. 1 seed, they need the LSU Tigers to lose. However, LSU now has its own problems with Will Wade being implicated in the FBI NCAA scandal, which could affect the Tigers as they host the Vanderbilt Commodores. Here’s a bit of what Barnes said about Saturday’s noon match-up with former UT coach Bruce Pearl and the prospect of winning back to back regular season titles.

"“It would be great, but we’ve got to go out and do it. It’s not gonna be easy. I mean, last year this time we were playing at home, and now we’re going into a Senior Night where the team just came off a huge win against their archrival, and so we know that.”"

Grant Williams a Karl Malone award finalist – HoopHall.com

Tennessee basketball junior forward Grant Williams is one of five finalists for the Karl Malone Award, given to the nation’s best power forward. Williams is on the list with Zion Williamson of the Duke Blue Devils, Dedric Lawson of the Kansas Jayhawks, PJ Washington of the Kentucky Wildcats and Mike Daum of the South Dakota State Jackrabbits.

"The winner of the 2019 Karl Malone Award will be presented at The College Basketball Awards presented by Wendy’s in Los Angeles, CA on Friday, April 12, 2019, along with the other four members of the Naismith Starting 5. Additional awards being presented and receiving support from Eaton Ephesus Lighting include the Bob Cousy Point Guard Award, the Jerry West Shooting Guard Award, the Julius Erving Small Forward Award and the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Center Award. Additional information about the telecast will be released by ESPN at a later date."

Tennessee baseball to host Fresno State – WVLT

The 13-0 and No. 21 ranked Tennessee Vols baseball team will put their best start in school history on the line this weekend with a three-game series against the Fresno State Bulldogs, who come in at 6-3. The two will face off at 6:30 p.m. Friday, 6 p.m. Saturday and 12 p.m. Sunday.

"The Big Orange are one of just four unbeaten teams remaining in Division I college baseball entering this weekend’s slate of games. The other three are Arizona State (12-0), Florida State (11-0) and NC State (12-0). The Vols pitching staff has made a big impact in the early going. The Vols’ pitchers lead the nation with a 0.94 ERA, a 0.71 WHIP, 1.96 walks allowed per nine innings and six shutouts. They also leads the SEC in opponent batting average (.145) and saves (seven)."

Tennessee softball opens SEC play – Quinton Douglas, UT Daily Beacon

The 16-2 and No. 6/7 ranked Tennessee Lady Vols softball team will open SEC play this weekend against the 21-2 and No. 4/5 ranked Florida Gators on the road. Tennessee and Florida will face off at 6 p.m. Friday, 1 p.m. Saturday and 12 p.m. Sunday.

"Tennessee has been rolling in all three phases of the game so far this season: At the plate, in the circle, and in the field. The Lady Vols have batted at a .374 clip as a team, which is good for first in the SEC and second in the nation."

Men’s tennis beats LSU, set to face Texas A&M – UTSports

The No. 25 ranked Tennessee Vols men’s tennis team improved to 10-2 and 1-1 in the SEC after defeating the No. 24 ranked LSU Tigers Thursday 4-3 on the road. They will next face the No. 28 ranked Texas A&M Aggies on the road Saturday at 1 p.m.

"Tennessee and LSU split the first six points of the match and the deciding point came down to court one between No. 59 Timo Stodder and No. 112 Shane Monroe of LSU. Stodder won the opening set 6-2 but dropped the second 4-6, forcing the deciding third and final set.With all the other singles courts finished, Monroe won the opening point but wouldn’t win another as Stodder won six-straight points, taking the final set 6-1 and giving the Vols the match victory."

Women’s tennis to face Texas A&M, LSU this weekend – UTSports

At 10-3 and 0-1 in the SEC, The No. 33 ranked Tennessee Lady Vols tennis team will host the No. 21 ranked Texas A&M Aggies on Friday and the No. 15 ranked LSU Tigers on Sunday. Both games will be at noon.

"Tennessee is coming off of a weekend doubleheader in which it dropped its SEC opener to No. 2 Georgia, 4-0, before taking down in-state foe Chattanooga, 7-0. Admission is free for all matches this season, and parking is available in Lot N-12, which is located at the corner of Lake Avenue and Volunteer Boulevard. For the most up-to-date information about the Tennessee women’s tennis program, follow @Vol_WTennis on Twitter."

Eight Vols set for indoor track and field championships – NCAA.com

The Tennessee Vols will place eight players in the 2019 NCAA Track and Field Indoor Championships, including four women and four men. This year’s events is scheduled to take place on Friday, March 8 and Saturday, March 9 at Birmingham CrossPlex in Birmingham, Ala.

"Friday’s events will see the men’s heptathlon, preliminary races, field events and the men’s and women’s 5,000-meter and distance medley relay races. Saturday’s schedule includes the men’s heptathlon, women’s pentathlon and 4×400 relay races. The full events schedule is available here. Team national titles will be awarded Saturday."