An emotional announcement of Kellie Harper’s departure came after a string of


KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) – The Lady Vols have emphasized strengthening their mental focus and situational awareness late in games over the last few contests. It’s key component they relied on when they welcomed in the No. 1 team in the country in South Carolina.

Before their Feb. 15 meeting this season, the two programs last clashed in the 2023 SEC Championship game.

It was also the first time the Lady Vols played on Championship Sunday since 2015.

Against the Gamecocks, they looked like they belonged. Until a quiet third quarter, they kept the title out of reach. It was an appearance that’s still motivating this team today.

“They want that and more. When you get a taste, you know where you want to go. I think there’s a lot of excitement. I think that’s really raised their ambition and expectations for this team,” said Head Coach Kellie Harper.

The Lady Vols were 8-3 in SEC play entering their game against USC. They were fresh off a dominant 81-55 showing against Arkansas. However, Coach Harper knows you have to be able to respond and adjust late in the game to last in this league.

“Everybody is good when things are going well. When things are not going well and you’re really challenged, that’s when our team is going to be asked to be its best,” said Harper.

A Sweet Sixteen team a year ago, Harper looked to prove they still belong in the 2024 season when they welcomed in undefeated South Carolina.

“I think if we can max this team, if we can reach our potential, then I think we’ve got a chance to be something special,” said Harper.

Tennessee dictated the tone of the game early and had the game tied at 48 apiece heading into the final 10 minutes of the game. But, the team was gassed and only mustered seven points in the fourth quarter.

They’d fall 66-55.


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