KNOXVILLE, Tenn. –No. 11/12 Tennessee opens the 2023-24 campaign on Tuesday evening, welcoming Florida A&M to Thompson-Boling Arena at Food City Center for a 6:02 pm ET contest.
The Lady Vols are in the midst of a three-game run over a period of only five days to open the season.
UT played the USA Women’s National Team on Sunday night, faces FAMU in Knoxville on Tuesday, departs for Tallahassee on Wednesday and then meets #18/22 Florida State on Thursday night.
Kellie Harper begins year five as head coach at her alma mater, and she leads her Lady Vols against another LVFL in first-year head coach Bridgette Gordon.
This will mark the third all-time meeting between these schools, with Tennessee owning a 2-0 record.
- Zack Nelson (play-by-play) and LVFL Kamera Harris (analyst) will have the call for the SECN+ live stream.
- All games included in the ESPN package (ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU) will be available through WatchESPN, accessible online at WatchESPN.com, 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 stations and by audio stream, with Brian Rice providing play-by-play.
- A link to the live audio stream can be found on the Hoops Central page or the schedule on UTSports.com.
- For a list of Lady Vol Network affiliates, please click on the Fans tab at the top of UTSports.com, select Vol Network and then select the Vol Network Affiliates tab.
- Air time generally occurs 30 minutes prior to tip-off.
- SiriusXM will broadcast Tennessee’s next two games vs. Florida A&M and Florida State on satellite radio, carrying those games on the SEC Channel (SiriusXM 374).
- It’s Knox County Schools Night. Fans may donate two unused school supplies items and receive one complimentary ticket.
- Kids 12-and-under pricing for this game is only $5.
- Fans can download the Tennessee Athletics app to join the Coca-Cola GBO Zone Lightshow.
- Purchase tickets at AllVols.com or by calling the Tennessee Athletics Ticket Office at 1-800-332-VOLS or 865-656-1200.
PARKING, TRAFFIC FLOW, ENTRY ALERTS
- Fans coming to campus looking to purchase parking will do so on site with a credit card for all events, including men’s and women’s hoops.
- The designated rideshare drop-off/pick-up area will be on Todd Helton Drive west of Food City Center.
- Campus parking is limited for large Food City Center events, but there is a free shuttle service from the Ag Campus for all fans, dropping off and picking up immediately adjacent to Food City Center. ADA shuttles and entry will operate the same as previous years.
- Due to on-going construction and upgrades to Neyland Stadium, fans should be advised of changes coming to normal traffic patterns on Phillip Fulmer Way and Peyton Manning Pass during the 2023-24 basketball seasons. Please prepare in advance and stay tuned for more information.
- Phillip Fulmer Way from G-10 garage to Neyland Stadium Gate 21 nearby will be closed (tentatively set for Dec. 4, 2023).
- Vehicular entry via the area northeast of the Food City Center will at times be inaccessible, and avoiding that vicinity is strongly recommended.
- All tickets and Tennessee Fund parking passes remain digital.
- Just like last season, fans will see walk-through metal detectors outside of all Food City Center entrances.
LADY VOLS IN OPENERS
- Tennessee possesses a 46-3 all-time record in its first home contest of the year through 2022-23.
- The Lady Vols have won 23 straight times in their first appearance at Thompson-Boling Arena and in 40 of their past 41 campaigns.
- UT is 44-5 all-time in season openers over the past 49 years, including 28-3 at home, 8-2 on the road and 8-0 at neutral sites.
- Tennessee had won its last nine season openers and 21 of its last 22 until the setback at Ohio State last year.
- With that outcome in Columbus, the Big Orange women now are 40-9 in their first road game of the season.
KELLIE HARPER IN OPENING GAMES
- Kellie Harper is 7-1 while coaching a Power 5 school (4-0 at NC State, 3-1 at Tennessee) in season openers.
- Her teams defeated East Tennessee State (away), Western Kentucky (home) and Southern Illinois (home) in their first three seasons at UT, respectively, and then fell to No. 14/15 Ohio State in 2022-23.
HARPER VS. THOSE WITH UT TIES
- In matchups vs. teams with former Lady Vols as head coaches, Harper is 7-3. She is 2-1 vs. LSU (Nikki [Caldwell] Fargas), 1-0 vs. Lipscomb (Lauren [Avant] Sumski) and 4-2 vs. Kentucky (Kyra Elzy).
- The meetings with Elzy were the first times a UT coach faced a former teammate head to head.
- In contests vs. teams with former Lady Vols on the staff, Harper is 11-6. She is 2-0 vs. Vanderbilt (Kortney Dunbar), 1-1 vs. Indiana (Brian [Bass] Schomaeker), 1-0 vs. Lipscomb (Lauren [Avant] Sumski, Ariel Massengale), 2-1 vs. LSU (Nikki [Caldwell] Fargas), 4-4 vs. Kentucky (Kyra Elzy, Niya Butts), 1-0 vs. Southern Illinois (Jody Adams-Birch) and 1-0 vs. Rutgers (Nikki McCray-Penson).
- In contests vs. teams with former Lady Vol staff on the opposite bench, Harper is 18-12. She is 5-1 vs. Alabama (Brian Johnson), 3-0 vs. Arkansas (Lacey Goldwire), 4-4 vs. Kentucky (Matthew Mitchell, Kyra Elzy, Niya Butts, Amber Smith), 2-1 vs. LSU (Nikki [Caldwell] Fargas), 1-5 vs. South Carolina (Jolette Law), 0-1 vs. West Virginia (Bett Shelby), 1-0 vs. Texas (Calamity McEntire), 1-0 vs. Texas A&M (Greg Brown) and 1-0 vs. UCF (Greg Brown).
HOME SWEET HOME
- This is the 37th season that the Tennessee women’s and men’s basketball teams called Thompson-Boling Arena at Food City Center home. The Lady Vols own a remarkable 508-56 record (.901) in the mammoth venue through the 2022-23 home slate.
- The 500th win came on Jan. 1, 2023, via an 89-76 victory over Alabama.
- The Lady Vols have built a combined 661-80 (.892) home mark in contests played at Food City Center, Stokely Athletics Center and Alumni Gym.
- Kellie Harper is 57-11 overall, 30-6 vs. non-conference foes and 26-5 in SEC play in games played on The Summitt through the 2022-23 campaign.
- UT is 2-0 vs. Florida A&M and 8-0 vs. schools from the Southwestern Athletic Conference.
- Interestingly enough, Tennessee has scored 96 points against the Rattlers in each of the previous meetings.
- The last match-up came on Nov. 18, 2018, with UT winning in Knoxville, 96-31.
- The first clash came on March 16, 1995, in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament in Knoxville, with the Big Orange prevailing, 96-59.
- Jewel Spears father, LeRonne, earned a BS in computer info. systems from FAMU (1997).
A LOOK AT FLORIDA A&M
- In addition to having a new coaching staff, Florida A&M features nine out of 15 players on the 2023-24 roster who weren’t on the team a year ago.
- Two starters return, including 5-9 graduate point guard Ahriahna Grizzle, who was second on the squad at 10.9 ppg. a year ago after transferring from Alabama. She also led the team in assists (95), steals (60) and free throw percentage (82.4).
- Also back is 5-9 senior guard Ivet Subirats, who put up 7.5 ppg. and was second the team with 36 three-pointers with starts in 28 of 29 contests in 2022-23.
- FAMU is picked to finish 10th of 12 in the Southwestern Athletic Conference this season.
GLANCING BACK TO LAST SEASON
- The Rattlers finished the 2022-23 season with a 6-23 overall record and 4-14 mark in the SWAC.
- FAMU averaged only 59.0 points per game and gave up 71.0, committing 20.4 turnovers per contest, shooting 38 percent from the field and getting out-rebounded, 39.5 to 35.0.
- Florida A&M also played an extremely challenging non-conference slate last season, facing Florida, South Florida, Michigan State, Mississippi State and Cal along the way.
ABOUT THE COACHING STAFF
- The Rattlers are led by first-year head coach and LVFL Bridgette Gordon, who starred at Tennessee from 1985-89, helping the Lady Vols claim their first two NCAA titles in 1987 and 1989.
- Gordon also served a stint as an assistant at UT from 2017-19 under then-head coach Holly Warlick.
- She stands No. 2 all-time in career points (2,462) and No. 12 in rebounds (915) in UT history.
- Her historic tenure at Tennessee is commemorated with a No. 30 retired jersey banner suspended from the rafters of Food City Center, and she is enshrined in the UT and Women’s Basketball Halls of Fame.
- The DeLand, Florida, native replaced another LVFL, Shalon Pillow, who coached FAMU for three seasons before stepping down July 6, 2023.
- Gordon was hired as an assistant at New Mexico State on June 2 under LVFL Jody Adams-Birch before accepting the post in Tallahassee in July.
- Gordon also has been at Stetson, Georgia State, Wichita State, SMU, Kansas State and Cincinnati in a college coaching career that began in 2004-05.
- FAMU assistant Jordan Harris is the brother of LVFL Kamera Harris, the color analyst for the Lady Vols-Rattlers SECN+ broadcast.
- After playing a team from Tallahassee on Tuesday night in the form of Florida A&M, the Lady Vols will travel to Tallahassee Wednesday to take on No. 18/22 Florida State on Thursday night.
- That contest is slated for 6 pm ET at the Donald L Tucker Center and will air on ESPN2.
- Tennessee possesses a 2-0 series record vs. the Seminoles, but the programs haven’t met since playing at Tallahassee on Feb. 8, 1985, and in Knoxville on Jan. 26, 1986.