Lady Vols have SEC regular season wrapped up, but drama still remains in meeting with Kentucky

No word on Harrison, Massengale

Kentucky coach Matthew Mitchell, center, and assistant Kyra Elzy, right, give orders from the bench during the Wildcats' SEC tournament game with Tennessee in 2010. Mitchell was a graduate assistant with the Lady Vols in 1999-2000 at the same time the Elzy and Shalon Pillow, another Kentucky assistant, were players for UT.

Photo by John Amis

Kentucky coach Matthew Mitchell, center, and assistant Kyra Elzy, right, give orders from the bench during the Wildcats' SEC tournament game with Tennessee in 2010. Mitchell was a graduate assistant with the Lady Vols in 1999-2000 at the same time the Elzy and Shalon Pillow, another Kentucky assistant, were players for UT.

Kyra Elzy on return to Kentucky

A championship won’t be at stake Sunday when the SEC’s top two women’s basketball teams meet.

Drama remains in play, though, when Tennessee and Kentucky conclude the regular season before a sold-out crowd at Memorial Coliseum in Lexington, Ky. (TV: ESPNU, 3:30 p.m.).

The plot will begin to unfold with the health of Lady Vols point guard Ariel Massengale and center Isabelle Harrison. They were helped off the floor after suffering right knee injuries during the second half of Thursday night’s 82-72 victory over Texas A&M, which clinched the regular-season conference title for No. 8 Tennessee (23-5, 14-1 SEC).

Coach Holly Warlick said Friday afternoon that both players were to undergo MRI exams later that day. But there was no media availability on Saturday and, therefore, no official update from UT on their status. Massengale’s injury appeared to be more serious. Although the 5-foot-6 sophomore typically starts, she was listed as coming off the bench in Tennessee’s pregame release for the Kentucky game.

If Massengale’s out, Kamiko Williams will start at point guard. She’s been an efficient accomplice this season, as evidenced by 71 assists and just 27 turnovers. Guard Meighan Simmons will be asked to help, too. She has piled up 73 turnovers as a part-time ball-handler.

The Lady Vols have been without backup point guard Andraya Carter since December, when she underwent season-ending shoulder surgery.

“We just have to be smart,” Warlick said. “We’re going to have to do it by committee like we’ve done in the past.”

Any backcourt attrition increases the challenge of facing No. 10 Kentucky (24-4, 12-3) and its ravenous defense. The Wildcats lead the SEC in steals (11.9 per game) and are a plus-8.5 in turnovers.

“They’re aggressive, they’re athletic,” Warlick said. “They play so hard. They try to speed up the game. I think people get caught up in the tempo.”

No Wildcat plays harder than guard A’dia Mathies, last season’s SEC player of the year. She’s among the conference leaders in scoring (16 points per game) and is one steal short of becoming the third player in school history to record 300 for her career.

“I certainly haven’t been around anybody that’s been more meaningful to a program than she has here at Kentucky,” said Kentucky coach Matthew Mitchell, who’s one victory shy of becoming the program’s leader in coaching victories. “She’s really helped us get to a different spot than where we were when she entered the program.”

Mathies will be honored beforehand Sunday as a senior playing in her final home game. Tennessee senior Taber Spani thinks all the Wildcats will benefit from the atmosphere. UT lost in its last visit to Kentucky, 61-60, on Jan. 12, 2012.

“The gym is going to be packed,” Spani said. “They’re on top of you. I think it lends itself to their style of play.”

The day’s other storyline involves UT assistant Kyra Elzy’s return to Kentucky, where she spent four years on Mitchell’s staff and rose to associate head coach. Elzy, a former Lady Vol, left Kentucky in April to join Warlick’s staff.

Last October, Mitchell was diplomatic in addressing Elzy’s departure at SEC Media Day in Birmingham, Ala.

“I know it was a difficult time for me personally because we’re so close,” he said. “I know it was a difficult time for Kyra. But I don’t think you’ll ever be very happy in life or very successful if you let bitterness be any part of your life. While I was sad to see her go, I certainly will always love Kyra Elzy and be appreciative of what she contributed to the Kentucky program.”

During Friday’s press conference, Mitchell didn’t address Elzy at all. When asked whether it will be strange to see her on the other bench, he replied: “I don’t have any focus whatsoever on anything other than Tennessee’s players. They’ll be the people that we’ll need to pay attention to and that we’ll need to work to see if we can stop, slow down and see if we can score more points than their players.”

Elzy spoke highly of Kentucky on Friday, but already was considering her view from Tennessee’s bench.

“In my mind,” she said, “I’m going to approach it just like when I was sitting on Kentucky’s bench, coaching against my alma mater.”

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Comments » 39

jt45 writes:

Big game, I hope the Ladies in orange close out the season with a big win against the lady cats.
Going to be a tough game with all the LVs out from injuries.

underthehill writes:

Lady Vols are SEC champs..and only need this game to improve seeding in the big show..that is a good thing..on the other hand..Sr nite..Ky will run the floor hard for 40 min and have an advantage in team speed..Warlick has her work cut out..will need help from Jones and Phillips on defense...may need to use zone more when Spani is on the floor..need big games from Burdick, Kamiko, and Graves to win this one..

WCBB_FAN writes:

The lady vols have met the expectations for this season. I hate to be bad news, but Kentucky is going to win tomorrow. It's their time to shine on senior night.

underthehill writes:

in response to WCBB_FAN:

The lady vols have met the expectations for this season. I hate to be bad news, but Kentucky is going to win tomorrow. It's their time to shine on senior night.

If the Lady Vols have proved anything ..it is that they are the most talented team in the SEC..in spite of the injuries..if they play their best..they will beat UK..

WCBB_FAN writes:

I almost forgot the game will be televised nation wide. Just hope it don't be an embarrassment loss for Holly and her staff. Six players rotation verses 14 players that presses for 40 minutes. They don't stand a chance to beat kentucky. I feel sorry for this team. The cats will have a field day tomorrow.

lstbodeanvol writes:

in response to WCBB_FAN:

I almost forgot the game will be televised nation wide. Just hope it don't be an embarrassment loss for Holly and her staff. Six players rotation verses 14 players that presses for 40 minutes. They don't stand a chance to beat kentucky. I feel sorry for this team. The cats will have a field day tomorrow.

you sound like mike in ucant....GO LADY VOLS

VolsFan4Lyfe writes:

in response to WCBB_FAN:

I almost forgot the game will be televised nation wide. Just hope it don't be an embarrassment loss for Holly and her staff. Six players rotation verses 14 players that presses for 40 minutes. They don't stand a chance to beat kentucky. I feel sorry for this team. The cats will have a field day tomorrow.

Lets have a flashback shall we On Oct 29 at 6:20 pm you stated "I'm sticking with my word. The dream school is going to turn out to be a nightmare. The connection with the male coach and the beautiful campus is the reason Russell is going to pick Louisville. Final Answer!!!!!! Bria Smith chose U of L over Tenn. following in behind her boyfriend. Read the ESPN message board. Someone has interest in a special little football player at Louisville too. Guess Who?? It's so much aniexty about this NO. 1 recruit. Ha Ha!!"

So if we are going by some of your previous comments we wouldnt have the NO. 1 commit or win the league title! Thanks you always keep it interesting if nothing else you say is valid !!!

cdtnladyvols931#663910 writes:

in response to underthehill:

If the Lady Vols have proved anything ..it is that they are the most talented team in the SEC..in spite of the injuries..if they play their best..they will beat UK..

I think so too! If they play like they are capable of playing, they can get a win! And if the game is halfway officiated right!!!!! Go Lady Vols!!!!! Lets play like this is another senior night for us!

jt45 writes:

in response to cdtnladyvols931#663910:

I think so too! If they play like they are capable of playing, they can get a win! And if the game is halfway officiated right!!!!! Go Lady Vols!!!!! Lets play like this is another senior night for us!

Getting a fair game on UKs home floor is almost guaranteed not to happen, last years debacle up there left me with no trust in sec officials.
I certainly hope Mitchell tries run a fast paced tempo game, that would play right into the LVs strengths and the excellent transition offense they have. The teams that tried that this year all lost to the LVs. Now passing and setting alot of screens has been tough for the LVs to defend and post defense has been spotty with harrison out. I think Graves plays conservatively on defense because of the officials and the 2 foul rule rule Holly uses.

I really dont see Simmons getting run down by UKs high pressure defense, I just hope her big game nerves dont hurt her production on offense. When she is shooting well the LVs are almost unbeatable, the UNC game is a good example.

orangecountyvols writes:

Vols,

Notice the game is not in co-Rupt arena, but instead in the smaller "Memorial Coliseum".

If this was Tennessee's version of our arena, we couldn't get everyone inside to see the game. Playing in M C makes it look like a bigger crowd than it is.

Remember..........whatever happens, Tennessee is already the champion of the SEC.

WCBB_FAN writes:

in response to VolsFan4Lyfe:

Lets have a flashback shall we On Oct 29 at 6:20 pm you stated "I'm sticking with my word. The dream school is going to turn out to be a nightmare. The connection with the male coach and the beautiful campus is the reason Russell is going to pick Louisville. Final Answer!!!!!! Bria Smith chose U of L over Tenn. following in behind her boyfriend. Read the ESPN message board. Someone has interest in a special little football player at Louisville too. Guess Who?? It's so much aniexty about this NO. 1 recruit. Ha Ha!!"

So if we are going by some of your previous comments we wouldnt have the NO. 1 commit or win the league title! Thanks you always keep it interesting if nothing else you say is valid !!!

I am 99.9% positive Kentucky is going to win tomorrow. PAY ATTENTION!!!!!!

SevenT writes:

L-Vols about to get a lesson in beatdown at Kentucky today.

Just Saying

ps11824 writes:

WCBB_FAN, what will you do with the .01%? Me thinks you postulate... but, go ahead, enjoy your field day while pounding your hairy chest. I wonder why we even bother to play this game. We could just have a weekend off and give KY the win by proxy, or because WCBB_FANOXY.

How can you venture out on such a skinny limb? Do you have a safety net?

DC82_Vol writes:

I never understand why opposing fans go to other teams' websites? I can honestly say I have never visited anoher SEC team's website.

Wonder if we will see the same people during FB time? HMMMMMM.

SummittsCourt writes:

in response to WCBB_FAN:

The lady vols have met the expectations for this season. I hate to be bad news, but Kentucky is going to win tomorrow. It's their time to shine on senior night.

I haven't seen you on here since Mercedes Russell showed how little you know about anything.

However, with your post you have guaranteed a Lady Vol victory today since you are wrong about everything else. HA!

SummittsCourt writes:

in response to DC82_Vol:

I never understand why opposing fans go to other teams' websites? I can honestly say I have never visited anoher SEC team's website.

Wonder if we will see the same people during FB time? HMMMMMM.

You notice they only show up when there teams are winning!

Theo writes:

in response to SevenT:

L-Vols about to get a lesson in beatdown at Kentucky today.

Just Saying

I seeyou've given up on the men's site after the beat down UT put on UK. Why don't you go back over there and see what sort of a welcome you get. Coward.
LVs the better team, don't know if they can overcome the injuries. Will motivation be a factor now that they've already cut down the nets? Will be interesting. Go Lady Vols. Let's finish this the right way.

PureOrange writes:

in response to DC82_Vol:

I never understand why opposing fans go to other teams' websites? I can honestly say I have never visited anoher SEC team's website.

Wonder if we will see the same people during FB time? HMMMMMM.

They just want to see what it feels like to be around real winners. In this case, it is the SEC REGULAR SEASON CHAMPS - THE LADY VOLS OF TENNESSEE!

Our Lady Vols have suffered lots of injuries this year, but their true grit has shown as they have won the championship in spite of the injuries and the FACT that everyone wants to beat Tennessee in order to make their own season.

Go Lady Vols!

huntined#565710 writes:

in response to SevenT:

L-Vols about to get a lesson in beatdown at Kentucky today.

Just Saying

Are you saying a regular beat down or a beat down like the men beat KY. I will take a loss and keep the championship rather then a win and lose the championship and that is all KY can get. But they always have next year!!!

johnlg00 writes:

As you all know, I am a huge LV fan, but all the stars are aligned for a UK victory. LVs clinching the SEC, key players on a short roster hurt, UK Senior Day, traditional rival at home, disappointing men's season, etc. No big deal for the LVs if they lose, unless they just get blown away. However, if the LVs should somehow get the win, it would be a MAJOR statement and might even move them up a line in the NCAA brackets.

Volinflan writes:

in response to johnlg00:

As you all know, I am a huge LV fan, but all the stars are aligned for a UK victory. LVs clinching the SEC, key players on a short roster hurt, UK Senior Day, traditional rival at home, disappointing men's season, etc. No big deal for the LVs if they lose, unless they just get blown away. However, if the LVs should somehow get the win, it would be a MAJOR statement and might even move them up a line in the NCAA brackets.

After the Braves clinch the pennant, Greg Maddux and John Smoltz take a few days off then start a few innings before the playoffs begin. I hope to see a lot of Nia Moore and Jasmine Phillips today. Of course if we're in the game, stick it to them. Just don't risk Izzy or Ariel. We could get a two seed with todays victory though.

RLL59 writes:

in response to Volinflan:

After the Braves clinch the pennant, Greg Maddux and John Smoltz take a few days off then start a few innings before the playoffs begin. I hope to see a lot of Nia Moore and Jasmine Phillips today. Of course if we're in the game, stick it to them. Just don't risk Izzy or Ariel. We could get a two seed with todays victory though.

Agreed. But Holly has had plenty of opportunities to play Nia and Jasmine more minutes, and has chosen rather to hone the teamwork skills of her top 7 players. I think it's clear that she is telling both of them that if they don't make significant improvement over the spring and summer, they shouldn't expect more than minimal playing time regardless of the score. You and I may disagree with that approach, but it is what it is. I think Holly will play today's game for pride and the opportunity for a #2 seed. But I don't think Izzy or Ariel will play unless they are clearly physically ready.

underthehill writes:

in response to johnlg00:

As you all know, I am a huge LV fan, but all the stars are aligned for a UK victory. LVs clinching the SEC, key players on a short roster hurt, UK Senior Day, traditional rival at home, disappointing men's season, etc. No big deal for the LVs if they lose, unless they just get blown away. However, if the LVs should somehow get the win, it would be a MAJOR statement and might even move them up a line in the NCAA brackets.

The things you say appear to be true..however I think the Lady Vols can win this game if they can handle the team speed advantage Ky will have..play some zone when Spani is on the floor..use Jones and Phillips more..I know ..no big deal is they lose..but I hope pride takes over and this team refuses to lose..

jt45 writes:

Lady Vols all the way today. They are the better team.Looking at UKs schedule this year its clear they had a much easier schedule than the Lady Vols. I believe the LVs were second only to baylor in SOS. Point being the LVs have played several more big games and should have the edge if things are close. Trap game ? Maybe with it being senor night and all but I dont see this bunch slacking off much based on their recent play and the fact that they are The Lady Vols.

No ESPNU here and probably going to be blacked out in my area online so I will have to listen to Mickey D on the radio.

emailnodata (Inactive) writes:

F##king pathetic reffing in this game.

Simmons and Graves both in foul trouble in first 5 minutes.

Hate this kind of phooey.

emailnodata (Inactive) writes:

Jasmine Jones is awful.

No instincts.

emailnodata (Inactive) writes:

Unbelievable.

At the end of the half, a blocking foul called on UT, which clearly took place prior to the shot (by a different UK player).

The ref's counted the UK basket, AND gave UK free throws.

This is pathetic.

Volinflan writes:

Halftime: worst call I've ever seen in Basketball. It was a foul and no basket or no foul and a basket. How could it possibly be both? Of course the refs tried to take Tennessee out of the game by calling 2 fouls on Graves with less that 4 minutes to play. I didn't see the first foul but the second was clearly a "Chop" by Walker but was called an offensive charge.

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

in response to emailnodata:

Unbelievable.

At the end of the half, a blocking foul called on UT, which clearly took place prior to the shot (by a different UK player).

The ref's counted the UK basket, AND gave UK free throws.

This is pathetic.

Agreed, between the refs and the commentators squarely in tucky's corner this game was practically decided before it was played. I can't stomach some of the bad play I've seen, so it's back to Golf until the last 2 minutes..GLV!!

orangecountyvols writes:

in response to emailnodata:

F##king pathetic reffing in this game.

Simmons and Graves both in foul trouble in first 5 minutes.

Hate this kind of phooey.

email,

I won't be quite as extreme as your opening statement, but otherwise you are 100% correct.
We've all seen games where the tone is set early.
Granted, U K is fired up, Vols already have won the championship, turnovers etc. However.......

how did most of those opening steals and turnovers occur????????? L V's were mugged, slapped around,and out came the ball. That's how a lot of the steals came about. Also, Graves goes straight up for a shot and is mugged from behind, and get this.......they called her the foul on her. Finally, how about the deal at the end of the half? The U K girls charges before we commit the foul at the buzzer...........and they gave Kentucky the basket plus a one and one????

Are you serious????????? They may even charge Tennessee to leave the arena and get on the bus.

This folks is what is meant by the 'home court advantage.'

underthehill writes:

Hope Kamiko is ok..need her to win this one..with 19 turnovers and just 4 points down..including the two the refs gave UK..the situation looks pretty good for the Lady Vols..just need Simmons to get hot and Lady Vols win...Holly must be doing a good job with her self control..most coaches in her situation would have got at least on TK

utk722#1416382 writes:

Just watched the 1st half. How does everyone think the officials are doing. I cannot believe what I saw and what was called right before the half. Come On ESPN

LadyVolsFan71 writes:

I sure hope that the UT and UK coaching staff sends this tape to the SEC. This is awful for both teams. Let 2 good teams play. Does the league think that the fans are stupid and not understand the game of basketball?

jt45 writes:

I see the Lady Vols are playing against the officials again this year. How has this kind of officiating been allowed to continue. I dont mind a bad call now and then but blatant calls like the one before the half should be investigated by someone.

underthehill writes:

Never heard of starting the 2nd half with a turnover on the in bounds pass..time for the white flag.. get some serious work done before the SEC tourn..is this a record for turnovers..If not ..it shore is above average..still don't undo the SEC title..now go get the SEC tourn title..and forget this..

utk722#1416382 writes:

The officials and commentators must have gotten paid extra for this game. Thanks goodness that Kentucky is playing for #2.

bbfn writes:

Besides Calipari, no one whines more about ref calls than the Lady Vols fans.

VolMoment writes:

Lady Vols did not win at kentucky and will NOT WIN THE OFFICALS WILL NOT LET IT HAPPEN......

So "slick" (coach) you got a win......but at KY. with whistles!!!!!!!

emailnodata (Inactive) writes:

in response to bbfn:

Besides Calipari, no one whines more about ref calls than the Lady Vols fans.

Time.

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