Tennessee Vols morning report: Kellie Harper talks win vs. Missouri

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) /

Morale is much higher for the Tennessee Vols as a program heading into the weekend. Men’s basketball is on a roll, women’s basketball just got back on the right track, and spring sports are set to begin on the diamond this weekend.

Our morning update on Rocky Top leads with coverage of the women’s basketball program first, as their success Thursday night was a huge deal. Beyond that, one of their players making another watch list is worthy of a mention.

In terms of spring sports beginning, we’ll have a separate preview for what’s happening on the diamond, in softball specifically. However, there are individual Tennessee Vols baseball honors for us to discuss, and we’ve got a track and field preview to talk about, so there is plenty of news anyway. Let’s start with the Lady Vols.

Kellie Harper, players talk win vs. MissouriMaria M. Cornelius, GoVols247

After a two straight blowout road losses and three losses in four games, the Tennessee women’s basketball team finally scored an impressive victory without Keyen Green. UT beat the Missouri Tigers 76-62 at home Thursday night. Kellie Harper, Tess Darby, Tamari Key and Jordan Horston all spoke afterward. Harper talked about why this was a really good win. Here’s a bit of what she said.

Horston, who had 21 points and 13 rebounds while Rae Burrell had 11 points off the bench, talked about how UT kept up its dominance in the third quarter after a strong second quarter. Here’s how she described it.

"“To keep our foot on their necks and play our game. We played fast, and we were able to crash the boards, and I feel we did a great job of that today.”"

Key, who had seven blocks while her complement in the post, Alexus Dye, had 11 points, talked about the team regaining its confidence. This is how she described it.

"“We just had to realize that we were okay. There’s a lot of outside noise, and a lot of things that people have to say about us, but at the end of the day, it’s about how we feel as a family and as a team. We were fine. We knew what we needed to do. We had to play Tennessee basketball and get back to the things that we were doing.”"

Darby, who went 4-of-7 from three en route to 12 points, discussed her red-hot shooting. This is what she said on that front.

"“My role on the team is to knock down big shots, so whenever I am knocking down those big shots, it opens up the paint. Even if I’m not the one getting the shot, the spacing on the floor creates chances for others.”"

Alexus Dye on Katrina McClain watch list – HoopHall Awards

Averaging nine points and seven rebounds on the year, Tennessee Lady Vols forward Alexus Dye is one of 10 players now named to the Katrina McClain Watch List. Named for mid-1980s women’s basketball star Katrina McClain, the award goes to the top power forward in the nation.

"Katrina McClain was a prolific rebounder and terrific scorer in a career that spanned three Olympic Games, three continents, and countless driveways, backyards, and arenas all over the world. Before she earned her stripes for USA Basketball, McClain starred at the University of Georgia where she was a two-time Kodak All-America and the WBCA National Player of the Year her senior season."

Two baseball Vols earn All-SEC – SECSports

Junior outfielders Jordan Beck and Drew Gilbert were both named preseason Second Team All-SEC by the league’s coaches on Wednesday. In addition to those two players being recognized, the Tennessee Vols baseball team was picked fourth in the SEC East this year. However, they didn’t receive a first place vote.

"The 2022 regular season for SEC teams begins Feb. 18 with conference play set to begin March 18. Eight SEC teams have been ranked in the top-25 of the preseason polls."

Track and field set for two events – UTSports

The Tennessee Vols track and field program will be splitting up its events this weekend. Sprinters, jumpers and middle distance athletes will head to Fayetteville, Ark., for the Tyson Invite, hosted by the Arkansas Razorbacks. Throwers and distance runners will head to Nashville, Tenn., for the Music City Challenge, hosted by the Vanderbilt Commodores.

"The Tyson Invite begins Friday at 3:15 p.m. ET with the women’s long jump and concludes Saturday at 4:45 p.m. with the women’s 4×400-meter relay.…At the Music City Challenge, the Orange & White open at 4 p.m. ET Friday with men’s weight throw."