Southern Illinois vs. Tennessee

HOOPS CENTRAL: #15/12 Lady Vols vs. Southern Illinois

No. 15/12 Tennessee (0-0) will open the 2021-22 campaign at home, welcoming Southern Illinois (0-0) on Wednesday for a 7:02 p.m. ET contest at Thompson-Boling Arena in Knoxville.

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The game against the Salukis marks the first of three tests in a six-day period for the Lady Vols, continuing with a road tilt Friday in Orlando vs. UCF and returning home for a top-25 match-up on Monday vs. No. 21/22 USF.

SIU returns all five starters from a year ago and opens UT’s three-game swing with an “experienced opponent” theme that UCF and USF also have in common.

Southern Illinois head coach Cindy Stein, in her ninth year in Carbondale, and Big Orange skipper Kellie Harper, in season three in Knoxville, are quite familiar. They battled one another in Missouri Valley Conference play while Harper was leading the program at Missouri State for six seasons from 2013-19.

Lady Vol fans will also find the associate head coach on the Southern Illinois bench familiar. Serving on Stein’s staff for the fourth season is LVFL Jody Adams-Birch, who played point guard for Tennessee from 1989-93, helping UT win a national championship in 1991.

In tune-up contests for the opener, Tennessee and Southern Illinois won their exhibition battles. The Lady Vols beat Georgia College on Nov. 3, 108-44, while the Salukis took care of Millikin, 85-37, on Oct. 30.


  • Opponent: Southern Illinois
  • Date: Weds., Nov. 10
  • Tipoff: 7:02 p.m. ET
  • Venue: Thompson-Boling Arena
  • Live stream on fuboTV: Start with a 7-day free trial!
  • Radio: Lady Vol Network
  • Online: Live Audio, Live Stats


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Roster Schedule Game Notes (PDF)


Roster Schedule Game Notes


Lady Vols Win Exhibition Over Ga. College | Lady Vols 12th in USA TODAY/WBCA Coaches Poll | Lady Vols Open At #15 in AP Preseason Poll | Women’s Hoops Second In SEC Media Poll | Lady Vol Media Day Videos & Transcript | Coaches Pick Burrell, Key For Preseason All-SEC Team |  Burrell Selected As USA TODAY Preseason All-American |
Burrell Named To Cheryl Miller Award Preseason Watch List | Dye Named To Katrina McClain Award Preseason Watch List | Tamari Key Named To Lisa Leslie Award Preseason Watch List | Horston On 2022 Ann Meyers-Drysdale Award Preseason Watch List


  • Sam Gore (play-by-play) and LVFL Nikki (Caldwell) Fargas (analyst) will be on the call for the SEC Network broadcast.
  • All of the games included in the ESPN package (ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU) will be available through WatchESPN, accessible online at, on smartphones and tablets via the WatchESPN app, and streamed on televisions through Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Chromecast, Roku, Xbox 360 or Xbox One to fans who receive their video subscription from an affiliated provider.
  • The contest also can be heard on Lady Vol Network radio stations and by audio stream, with Mickey Dearstone behind the microphone. Now calling the action for his 23rd season, Dearstone is joined by studio host Bobby Rader.
  • A link to the live audio stream can be found on each game’s Hoops Central page or the Lady Vol schedule on
  • For a list of Lady Vol Network affiliates, please click on the Fans tab at the top of, select Vol Network and then click on Vol Network Affiliates in the black bar at the top of the page.
  • Air time for games on the Lady Vol Radio Network generally occurs 30 minutes prior to tip-off.

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  • For the latest game promotions or for information about parking or UT’s clear bag policy, be sure to go to the Fan Experience game day page under the Fans tab on
  • Single game tickets are on sale. Go to to purchase.


  • The Lady Vols are 43-4 in season openers over the past 47 years, including 27-3 at home, 8-1 on the road and 8-0 at neutral sites.
  • UT has won its last eight season openers and 20 of its last 21.
  • Tennessee has a 44-3 all-time record in its first home contest of the year and a 39-7 mark in its first road game of the season.
  • UT has won five straight while playing the team’s first road game of a season.


  • Kellie Harper is 6-0 while coaching a Power 5 school (4-0 at NC State, 2-0 at Tennessee) in season openers after defeating ETSU and Western Kentucky in her first two seasons at UT, respectively.


  • The Lady Vols opened the 2020-21 season with an impressive 87-47 win over Western Kentucky in Thompson-Boling Arena on Nov. 28, 2020, in a season delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Junior guard/forward Rae Burrell led Tennessee with 18 points and a career-high seven assists. Four other Lady Vols found their way into double digits with redshirt junior guard Jordan Walker adding 13, freshman guard/forward Marta Suárez scoring 11, and senior forward Rennia Davis and freshman guard Destiny Salary each pitching in 10. Davis also tallied 11 rebounds to record her 30th career double-double.
  • WKU was paced by Ally Collett who finished the day with 16 points and three rebounds. Meral Abdelgawad was the second-leading scorer with 13 points and nine rebounds.


  • Tennessee heads to Orlando to take on the UCF Knights on Friday at 6 p.m. ET. The contest at Addition Financial Arena will be streamed live on ESPN+.
  • Southern Illinois is on the road again Sunday, playing at the University of Missouri-Kansas City at noon CT.


  • In a match-up between sibling head coaches, Kellie Harper‘s No. 15/12 Tennessee women’s basketball team bested Ross Jolly, Harper’s brother, and the Georgia College Bobcats, 108-44, in an exhibition at Thompson-Boling Arena on Wednesday night.
  • In a true team effort, every player scored and recorded at least one rebound in the contest. Five Lady Vols finished with double-figure scoring, led by senior Rae Burrell’s 18 points on an efficient 7-of-9 shooting from the field. Junior Jordan Horston posted an all-around performance with 14 points, eight boards, four assists and three steals.
  • Graduate Alexus Dye recorded six of her 12 points in the first quarter to jumpstart the Lady Vol offense early, while fellow graduates Jordan Walker and Keyen Green each recorded 11 points. Walker added four rebounds, three assists and three steals in the effort.
  • Tennessee’s freshmen finished with some impressive numbers in the game. Brooklynn Miles had a stat-stuffing performance with six points, a game-high five assists, a game-high five steals and four rebounds. Sara Puckett finished with a game-high nine rebounds to go along with five points and three assists, while Kaiya Wynn added seven points, six boards, three assists and two steals. Karoline Striplin rounded things out with six points, five rebounds, two steals, one assist and one block.
  • As a team, the Lady Vols shot 52 percent from the field and 41 percent from beyond the arc, while assisting on 23 baskets. Defensively, the squad held Georgia College to 27 percent shooting and forced 25 turnovers, which led to 34 points for Tennessee. Five different players recorded multiple takeaways, as UT finished with 18 steals in the game. The team also added eight blocks, led by junior Tamari Key’s game-high three rejections.


  • This is the 35th season that the Tennessee women’s and men’s basketball teams have called Thompson-Boling Arena their home, and the Lady Vols own an incredible 476-50 mark (.905) in the venue.
  • The Lady Vols have built a combined 629-74 (.895) home record in contests played at Thompson-Boling Arena, Stokely Athletics Center and Alumni Gym.
  • Kellie Harper is 24-5 overall and 12-4 in SEC play in games played on The Summitt through 2020-21.


  • In various preseason polls, Tennessee is ranked No. 12 in the USA TODAY/WBCA Coaches Poll, No. 15 by AP and Sports Illustrated, No. 16 by USA TODAY Sports and College Sports Madness, and No. 19 in the Lindy’s Sports Preseason Top 25.
  • The Lady Vols were picked second in the SEC Preseason Media Poll and No. 3 in the SEC Preseason Coaches Poll, marking their best positions since 2015-16 and 2016-17, respectively.


  • Tennessee returns five active players with starting experience from a year ago, including three who were in the starting lineup at season’s end on a squad that finished 17-8 overall and 9-4 in SEC play with a third-place league finish and NCAA Second Round appearance.
  • Rae Burrell, a 6-foot-1 senior (16.8 ppg., 4.6 rpg.), was the only Lady Vol last year to start all 25 games.
  • Burrell is joined by fellow returning starters in Tamari Key, a 6-6 junior center (8.9 ppg., 5.6 rpg., 2.9 bpg.), and Jordan Walker, a 5-8 graduate point guard (5.4 ppg., 4.5 rpg., 2.3 apg.). Key and Walker started 21 and 13 games, respectively.
  • Jordan Horston, a 6-2 junior guard (8.6 ppg., 4.2 apg., 3.9 rpg.) carded 13 starts a year ago and has 35 total under her belt after appearing at the jump circle 22 times as a rookie in 2019-20.
  • Keyen Green, a 6-1 graduate forward/center (6.8 ppg., 3.0 rpg.) started the first four games as a graduate transfer from Liberty a year ago before suffering a season-ending injury. She has 95 total career starts.
  • Marta Suárez, a 6-2 sophomore guard/forward (4.1 ppg., 3.6 rpg., 16 mpg.), started 14 games as a rookie. She was averaging 6.4 ppg., 5.6 rpg. and 21.8 mpg. through 13 starts before a lower leg injury limited her ability to practice and play and, ultimately, ended her season early. She was expected back in 2021-22, but Kellie Harper announced on Oct. 28 that the second-year performer would sit out this season due to injury.


  • UT also welcomes a top-drawer graduate transfer and awards candidate in 2021 Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year Alexus Dye (16.6 ppg., 12.6 rpg.), a 41-game starter over the past two seasons at Troy.
  • ESPN ranks her as the No. 14 impact transfer in the country heading into 2021-22.
  • Dye started all 28 games for the Trojans and led the NCAA in double-doubles (23) and total rebounds (352) in 2020-21.
  • The extremely-active 6-0 forward averaged 23 points and 11 rebounds in games vs. SEC teams Texas A&M and Mississippi State last season.


  • Rae Burrell was named to the Cheryl Miller Award Preseason Watch List, USA TODAY Preseason All-America Third Team and the Coaches Preseason All-SEC First Team.
  • Tamari Key was named to the Lisa Leslie Award Preseason Watch List and Coaches Preseason All-SEC Second Team.
  • Jordan Horston was named to the Ann Meyers-Drysdale Award Preseason Watch List.
  • Alexus Dye was named to the Katrina McClain Award Preseason Watch List.


  • Tennessee returns six of its top eight scorers and rebounders from last season, with five of them active with the injury to Suárez.
  • The Lady Vols welcome back the No. 2 (Burrell/16.8), No. 3 (Key/8.9), No. 4 (Horston/8.6), No. 5 (Green/6.8), No. 7 (Walker/5.4) and No. 8 (Suárez/4.1) scorers by average.
  • They also welcome back the No. 3 (Key/5.6), No. 4 (Burrell/4.6), No. 5 (Walker/4.5), No. 6 (Horston/3.9), No. 7 (Suárez/3.6) and No. 8 (Green/3.0) rebounders by average.
  • Including Suárez, a total of 1,155 of 1,797 points (64.3%) and 592 of 1,139 rebounds (52.0%) return from 2020-21.
  • Also, UT returns 115 of 137 blocks (83.9%), 84 of 112 three-pointers (75%), 253 of 366 assists (69.1%), 113 of 165 steals (68.4%), 187 of 293 free throws (63.8%) and 442 of 696 field goals (63.5%).


  • All told, Tennessee has nine total letterwinners returning and welcomes five newcomers, providing the Big Orange with its largest roster since 2014-15 (14 players).
  • Sophomore guard/forward Tess Darby (2.3 ppg., 0.6 rpg., 8.0 mpg.), junior center Emily Saunders (0.8 ppg., 1.1 rpg., 4.3 mpg.) and junior guard Jessie Rennie (0.7 ppg., 0.7 rpg., 0.7 apg., 8.0 mpg.) round out list of the returnees.


  • The freshman class was rated No. 9 overall/No. 2 SEC by and No. 15 overall/No. 3 SEC by espnW.
  • It includes 6-2 guard/forward Sara Puckett (Muscle Shoals, Ala./Muscle Shoals H.S.), the Gatorade Player of the Year in Alabama and recipient of WBCA All-America Honorable Mention and Jersey Mike’s Naismith High School All-America Honorable Mention honors. She was ranked No. 28 by and No. 43 by espnW.
  • Winning Miss Basketball in Alabama over Puckett was Karoline Striplin (Hartford, Ala./Geneva Co. H.S.), a 6-3 forward who earned WBCA All-America Honorable Mention. She was ranked No. 39 by and No. 45 by espnW.
  • Kaiya Wynn, a 6-0 guard (Richmond, Texas/Foster H.S.), was the state’s 5A Player of the Year in talent-rich Texas in her first season there after moving from Tennessee. She played in the PassThaBall Who’s NXT All-American Game and the TABC and VYPE GHAGBA All-Star Games. She was ranked No. 39 by Blue Star, No. 46 by All-Star Girls Report and No. 62 by espnW.
  • Brooklynn Miles, a 5-4 point guard (Frankfort, Ky./Franklin Co. H.S.), was Gatorade State Player of the Year and Miss Basketball in Kentucky. She was ranked No. 75 by All-Star Girls Report and No. 89 by
  • All five newcomers spent the entire summer in Knoxville getting up to speed.


  • The coaching staff has two new faces. To go along with returning assistant Jon HarperKellie Harper added veteran aides Samantha Williams and Joy McCorvey to her program.
  • Williams, who features impressive career stops at DePaul, Duke and Louisville, came to UT after two seasons as head coach at Eastern Kentucky.
  • McCorvey, meanwhile, joined UT after serving the past three years at Florida State and also possessing six years’ experience at Michigan and another at St. John’s. She served in the role of associate head coach a year ago at FSU, underscoring the valuable experience possessed by the new additions to Harper’s staff.
  • Williams and McCorvey replace Lacey Goldwire and Jennifer Sullivan. Sullivan was named head coach at Florida Atlantic, while Goldwire is back at Arkansas following a two-year stint at UT.
  • Basketball support members who are new this season include Bryan Tatum, director of women’s basketball sports performance; Liza Fruendt, director of recruiting operations; and Zion Sanders, graduate assistant. Josh Theis, a former G.A., is now director of video and creative content.


  • Kellie Harper is in her third season at Tennessee and in her 18th year as a head coach, featuring an overall record of 323-226 and a mark of 38-18 during her time in Knoxville.
  • Last season, she became one of only two coaches to guide four different Division I women’s programs to the NCAA Tournament. She has done so at Western Carolina, NC State, Missouri State and Tennessee. She is the only coach to have one of those four teams be her alma mater. The other four-program NCAA DI coach is Jim Foster, who led St. Joseph’s, Vanderbilt, Ohio State and Chattanooga.
  • Harper has directed her teams to 13 postseason appearances (six NCAA, 7 WNIT) and would have had No. 14 if the 2020 NCAA Tournament hadn’t been canceled.
  • She has guided UT to back-to-back third-place SEC finishes, defeating four ranked teams in 2020-21, including the highest ranked foe of her career (#2/3 South Carolina). That triumph was UT’s biggest since an 82-75 home win over No. 2/4 Texas on Dec. 10, 2017.
  • Tennessee finished No. 14 in the AP Poll and No. 16 in the USA TODAY Coaches Poll in 2020-21, suffering their fewest season losses (8) and fewest SEC setbacks since 2014-15. The inclusion in the final AP Poll was UT’s first appearance there since the end of the 2017-18 campaign.


  • Tennessee has a 2-0 all-time record vs. Southern Illinois.
  • The Lady Vols are 1-0 vs. the Salukis in games played in Knoxville and 1-0 at neutral sites.
  • The last time these teams met, No. 2/2 UT rolled past SIU, 78-44, on Jan. 23, 1989.
  • The only other meeting came on Nov. 19, 1984, with No. 14 Tennessee escaping with a 56-54 victory at the Bowling Green Bank Invitational at Western Kentucky University.
  • Kellie Harper is 11-2 all-time in games coached against Southern Illinois.
  • All of those meetings came when she was head coach at Missouri State from 2013-19.
  • Harper was 6-0 at home, 4-2 on the road and 1-0 at neutral sites vs. the Salukis.
  • SIU assistant coach Jody Adams-Birch played her collegiate basketball at Tennessee from 1989-93 under Pat Summitt.
  • The Cleveland, Tenn., native and Bradley Central graduate was a point guard and helped lead the Lady Vols to their third NCAA title in 1991, defeating Final Four Most Outstanding Player Dawn Staley and the Virginia Cavaliers in New Orleans, 70-67, in overtime.
  • Adams-Birch is in her fourth season on Cindy Stein’s staff and second year as associate head coach.
  • During her distinguished coaching career, Adams-Birch spent nine seasons as a collegiate head coach at Wichita State, where she compiled a school-record 161 wins with three Missouri Valley Conference championships and a trio of NCAA Tournament appearances.
  • Prior to taking over the reigns at Wichita State, Adams-Birch spent the 2007-08 season as the head coach of the Murray State Racers. The Racers went 24-8 under Adams-Birch and defeated Eastern Illinois in the 2008 Ohio Valley Conference title game to secure the program’s first-ever NCAA Tournament berth.
  • Between stints at WSU and SIU, Adams-Birch spent a season as an assistant coach at Derby (KS) High School, where the Panthers went 23-1 and won the Kansas 6A state title.


  • Southern Illinois returns all five starters and 10 total letterwinners from the 2020-21 campaign, entering a new season with great excitement.
  • That veteran group includes four graduates and two seniors among it.
  • The Salukis finished 9-17 overall and 5-13 in the Missouri Valley Conference a year ago, placing eighth in the league standings.
  • SIU is led by two returning double-figures scorers in 5-11 guard Makenzie Silvey (14.7 ppg., 4.8 rpg.) and 6-1 forward Abby Brockmeyer (14.3 ppg., 8.3 rpg.). Silvey was an All-MVC First Team selection last season.
  • Silvey hit 38 three-pointers a year ago, while 5-10 guard Payton McCallister, now a senior, led Southern Illinois with 41 makes from long range.


  • Cindy Stein enters her ninth, and final, season as the head coach of the Salukis in 2021-22. She has announced she will retire at the end of the current campaign, which is her 25th as a head coach.
  • In 24 years as a head coach at Emporia State (1995-98), Missouri (1998-10), Illinois Central College (2013) and Southern Illinois (2013-present), Stein has amassed a 397-330 record and has led her teams to 12 postseason appearances, which included a NCAA DII Runner-up finish as Emporia State’s head coach in 1998 and a trip the NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 as Missouri’s head coach in 2001.


  • The SIU women’s basketball team took an early lead and never looked back, cruising to a 85-37 victory in exhibition action against Millikin University on Oct. 30.
  • Southern never trailed, starting the first quarter with 12-straight points before the Big Blue tallied their first bucket. The Salukis led by a score of 25-10 after 10 minutes of play, and held Millikin to just four points scored in the 2nd quarter.
  • Makenzie Silvey led Southern in scoring with 21 points, while Abby Brockmeyer notched a double-double, scoring 14 points and grabbing 13 rebounds. The Salukis dominated the boards, corralling 55 rebounds to Millikin’s 22.
  • SIU shot 48.4-percent as a team, lead by Silvey, who went 9-of-11 from the field. Southern forced 21 turnovers and finished with 11 steals, led by Quierra Love with three.

By rajib