5 Tennessee Lady Volunteers Returning To The NCAA Tournament Dance Floor

Posted on March 21, 2022

The Tennessee Lady Volunteers are no stranger to postseason competition. In fact, they’re the only basketball team in the country to have appeared at in 40 women’s NCAA Tournaments over the years.

The majority of this particular Lady Vols roster are making their first appearance at the Big Dance this year. A handful of players, however, are returning for another shot at the title.

Here are the five current Lady Vols with the most March Madness experience.

1. Jordan Walker – 101 minutes, 27 points, 28 rebounds

Graduate student guard Jordan Walker may have only two previous NCAA tournament appearances under her belt, but she happens to have logged more tournament playing time than any other current player.

Her debut tournament appearance came during the first round of the 2020-21 NCAA Tournament against Middle Tennessee State University, where Walker spent 30 minutes on the court. During that time, she contributed nine points and 14 rebounds.

Walker spent even more time dancing during the next game. In the second round against Michigan, she logged 38 minutes, seven rebounds and five points.

Tennessee’s most recent bout, which came in this year’s first round against Buffalo, saw Walker log the second-longest court time of any Lady Vol with her 33 minutes of play. She added 13 points and seven rebounds in the team’s victory.

2. Rae Burrell – 100 minutes, 52 points, 18 rebounds

When it comes to total appearances, the Lady Vol who’s participated in more tournament games than any other current player is none other than senior guard/forward Rae Burrell.

Tennessee gained entry into the madness in the 2018-19 season, when Burrell logged her initial tournament appearance. However, she saw only two minutes of play before the team lost to UCLA.

Because the 2019-20 tournament was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Burrell didn’t return to the tournament stage until the 2020-21 season.

She then made two monumental appearances that dance, first contributing 22 points and seven rebounds in her 31 minutes against Middle Tennessee. Then in the second round against Michigan, Burrell added 11 points and five rebounds to Tennessee’s total in 33 minutes.

This year’s first round faceoff saw Burrell play an integral role yet again. She spent 34 minutes on the court — the longest of any Lady Vol. During that time – and she scored 19 points and logged six rebounds.

3. Tamari Key – 84 minutes, 36 points, 22 rebounds

Junior center Tamari Key also played in the two previous NCAA Tournament matchups.

In the first round of last year’s tournament against MTSU, she contributed 13 points and two rebounds in 24 minutes. Key added another 28 minutes of play against Michigan, where she contributed seven points and nine rebounds.

In this year’s tournament, her most recent matchup came against Buffalo. She became a main component on the court for a full 32 minutes, during which time she logged 16 points and 11 rebounds. However, after logging 115 blocked shots through the regular season (the most in women’s college basketball), she’s still looking for the first block of this year’s tourney.

4. Jordan Horston – 55 minutes, 13 points, 15 rebounds

Junior Jordan Horston gained six rebounds and six points in her 27 minutes against Middle Tennessee last year.

In the following game against Michigan, she played 28 minutes for a total of seven points and nine rebounds.

Due to an elbow fracture suffered back in February, however, Horston didn’t see any playing time against Buffalo this past weekend. She will likely also not participate in the team’s second round game against Belmont either.

5. Tess Darby – 36 minutes, 3 points, 6 rebounds

Tess Darby returned to tournament play last week after playing in both the first and second rounds of last year’s tournament.

The sophomore is consistent when it comes to her defensive efforts and what she’s willing to offer in the way of team contributions.

In last year’s first game against Middle Tennessee, she logged three points and two rebounds in 13 minutes played.

Then in the matchup against Michigan, her five minutes on the court resulted in one rebound.

Fast forward to this year, and she’s already doubled her tournament playing time. Saturday’s game against Buffalo saw her contribute three rebounds and one assist during her 18 minutes on the court.

Up next for Lady Vols March Madness

The Lady Vols enter the second round of 2022 March Madness against Belmont on Monday at 7 p.m. ET.

DraftKings Sportsbook TN currently lists Tennessee as a 9.5-point favorite in the matchup, setting the Vols moneyline at -590 odds and the over/under at 125.5 points.

Photo by Associated Press
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Alec Cunningham

As a college athlete, Alec Cunningham played Division II golf at Tusculum University. She graduated in 2015 with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism and Professional Writing. Alec has spent the last five years working in the music industry as a concert promoter, tour manager and artist developer. As a journalist, she has covered a variety of topics and currently specializes in the Tennessee online sports betting industry.

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