Rickea Jackson returns for Lady Vols

Maria M. Cornelius2MCsports

Tennessee got one player back Tuesday evening in Rickea Jackson who had been out for six weeks and lost another player for the season in Destinee Wells in what has been a tough stretch early for the team.

Led by Jewel Spear, who tallied 18 points, with balanced scoring throughout the box score, Tennessee, 6-5, secured the 85-63 win over Wofford, 7-5, which just beat Virginia for its first-ever victory against an ACC team and the first win over a Power 5 program since defeating Alabama in 2012.

“We knew they were coming off of a big win at Virginia,” Tennessee coach Kellie Harper said. “They were going to be a tough opponent. I’m proud of our team for keeping them under their average and finding ways to score in multiple ways so we could get the win.”

Jackson played just under 21 minutes and despite the long layoff, she rather seamlessly got back into the flow with 11 points and six rebounds.

“She steps on the court, and she changes things,” Harper said. “I know the team was happy to get her back out there.”

Karoline Striplin also reached double digits with 16 points, while Sara Puckett added 12 points. Jasmine Powell played 30 minutes at point guard with the absence of Wells – who wore a large brace on her right leg on the sideline – and notched nine points, 10 assists and eight rebounds. Kaiya Wynn also helped handle point guard duties with five points, three assists and four rebounds.

Kaiya Wynn gets down court against Wofford. (UT Athletics)

Harper understands the impact of a serious injury as she twice hurt her knee in high school and college.

“It was a gut punch for the team and for her,” Harper said. “I know it was tough initially to get the news. I did share that I’ve been through that. Honestly, I think it gave her a little bit of comfort knowing that there are other people that have done it. I hate it. I hate it for her, I hate it for the team.”

The team will practice this morning and then be released for the holidays to go home before returning to practice on Dec. 27. The next game is New Year’s Eve at Liberty and then the rigors of SEC play start at Auburn on Jan. 4.

It’s been two months of adversity for the Lady Vols with a spate of injuries and some tough losses. The players finished December at home with two wins and got one of their best players back in Jackson.

“We get to step away for a minute and just rest, fuel up and spend time with our families,” Puckett said. “I know a bunch of us will still get in the gym and get shots up just to be prepared for SEC play, but very grateful for a break.”

Click HERE and HERE for full interview by Harper, Puckett, Powell and Striplin.

Janiyah Williams

RECRUIT VISIT: The Lady Vols won’t be back on their home court until Jan. 7 when Tennessee hosts Kentucky. Janiyah Williams, a five-star guard from Stillwater, Oklahoma, will be in Knoxville with her parents, Tevin and Melissa Williams, for an official visit that weekend.

Janiyah Williams, a five-star guard in 2025 and top 25 recruit, is getting an early start on her official visits and will begin the process on the first weekend of January with a trip to Tennessee. Williams, a 5-10 guard who is still growing, plays at Edmond Memorial High School in Edmond, Oklahoma, and is ranked in the top 25 in the class of 2025.

An interview with Williams, who is very level-headed at the age of 16, can be read HERE.

The youngest of 12 children, Williams grew up playing sports, including tackle football, with her siblings and is a first-degree black belt in taekwondo. One thing is certain. If Williams were to come to Tennessee, she wouldn’t be intimidated by the physical play in the SEC.

Maria M. Cornelius, a writer/editor at Moxley Carmichael since 2013, started her journalism career at the Knoxville News Sentinel and began writing about the Lady Vols in 1998. In 2016, she published her first book, “The Final Season: The Perseverance of Pat Summitt,” through The University of Tennessee Press.


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