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Jan. 23, 2012

Tennessee capped the SEC's "We Back Pat" week of basketball in loud fashion, winning all three home games in front of boisterous crowds and raising $55,000 for the Pat Summitt Fund to headline the UT athletics weekend.

Saturday at Thompson-Boling Arena, the Vols edged defending national champion Connecticut 60-57 behind Jarnell Stokes' first career start and first career double-double. More than 21,000 were on hand as part of the SEC's week-long initiative to bring awareness and recognition to the Pat Summitt Fund and its fight against Alzheimer's disease.

Earlier in the week, the Lady Vols defeated Vanderbilt and LSU at home before taking this weekend off in anticipation of Monday night's matchup at second-ranked Notre Dame.

Men's tennis recovered from a Friday afternoon loss to post its first two victories of the season at the Goodfriend Tennis Center. Women's tennis fought injuries and dropped close decisions to a pair of top-10 opponents at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing, N.Y.

Track and field continued its early successes with a solid weekend at the Auburn Invitational, and both swimming and diving squads lost at Georgia in their first dual meets since the holiday break.

Men's Basketball (1-0 for the weekend)
Vols 60, Connecticut 57
Freshman Jarnell Stokes notched his first career double-double in just his third collegiate game as Tennessee upset defending national champion and No. 13-ranked Connecticut 60-57 Saturday at Thompson-Boling Arena.

Stokes, who earned the start for the first time since joining the Vols just two weeks ago, poured in 16 points and grabbed 12 rebounds as Tennessee relied primarily on its inside game against the physical Huskies.

"I thought Jarnell did a good job once again," Tennessee head coach Cuonzo Martin said. "He had some breakdowns defensively, which is expected because he's learning as we go, but I thought his energy, his toughness, his will to receive the ball and desire to score the ball really helped us get over the hump."

Next: Tuesday at Vanderbilt, 6 p.m. Central; Saturday vs. Auburn, 6 p.m. // FULL SCHEDULE

Men's Indoor Track and Field (Auburn Invitational)
Auburn Invitational (Day 1)
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- The Tennessee track & field teams eased into competition at the Auburn Invitational Friday night, as only two events were contested at the Birmingham CrossPlex.

In the men's weight throw, junior Drew Thomas improved over last weekend's toss of 55 feet, 11¼ inches with a heave of 58-2½ to nab fifth place. Redshirt freshman Deon McAdoo was 12th at 47-7¼.

Auburn Invitational (Day 2)
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- The Tennessee track & field program netted its first NCAA qualifier of the campaign and pocketed a pair of school records and victories, as the Big Orange closed out its stay at the Birmingham CrossPlex for the Auburn Invitational.

"It was a field event weekend for us, basically," UT Director of Track & Field J.J. Clark said. "Annie Alexander broke the school record, Matt Hoty had a PR and freshman record and we now have three pole vaulters over 17 feet. This time of the year, to have three over that mark is outstanding. Those are very good marks."

Hoty wasn't able to collect his second straight victory in the men's shot put, but the Vol redshirt freshman did manage to make history for the second meet in a row. His blast of 60-0¼ was good for second place and enabled him to snap his week-old UT freshman record in the process. He finished behind only Stephen Saenz of Auburn, last year's SEC Outdoor champion, who had a best of 63-1¼ on Saturday.

"We know he's a talent," Clark said of Hoty. "That's one of the reasons we redshirted him last year to get him healthy (from a high school injury). Now he's out there doing what we expected him to do.

Next: Friday-Saturday at Texas A&M Mondo Challenge, College Station, Texas (6 p.m. & 11 a.m. Central) // FULL SCHEDULE

Women's Indoor Track and Field (Auburn Invitational)
Auburn Invitational (Day 1)
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- The Tennessee track & field teams eased into competition at the Auburn Invitational Friday night, as only two events were contested at the Birmingham CrossPlex.

In the women's battle, junior Jessie Harrison was the Big Orange's top finisher, taking seventh with a mark of 56-8. Senior Laquoya Kelly placed 10th at 53-11, sophomore Aslynn Halvorson had a personal-record effort of 52-1 to take 12th, and senior Annie Alexander came in 17th at 50-10¾.

Auburn Invitational (Day 2)
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- The Tennessee track & field program netted its first NCAA qualifier of the campaign and pocketed a pair of school records and victories, as the Big Orange closed out its stay at the Birmingham CrossPlex for the Auburn Invitational.

"It was a field event weekend for us, basically," UT Director of Track & Field J.J. Clark said. "Annie Alexander broke the school record, Matt Hoty had a PR and freshman record and we now have three pole vaulters over 17 feet. This time of the year, to have three over that mark is outstanding. Those are very good marks."

Alexander, the senior shot put ace for the Lady Vols, became Tennessee's first national qualifier of the 2012 season, unleashing a blast of 58 feet, 1 inch to punch her ticket to the NCAA Indoor meet in Nampa, Idaho, on March 9-10. The measurement, which came on her third throw of the competition, broke her 2009 indoor school record of 57-2, set at the NCAA meet that year. Her new mark also moved her to the top of the nation in that event this season.

Senior Chanelle Price made her first season appearance in the women's 800m a good one, collecting the ninth indoor victory of her career in that event with a 2:06.41 readout to edge former UT standout Kimarra McDonald (2:06.52). Price's mark, the best indoor debut of her career, moved her to the top of the NCAA list at this point in the season.

Next: Friday-Saturday at Texas A&M Mondo Challenge, College Station, Texas (6 p.m. & 11 a.m. Central) // FULL SCHEDULE

Men's Tennis (2-1 for the weekend)
Memphis 4, Vols 3
Vols 6, Eastern Kentucky 1
Tennessee head coach Sam Winterbotham says learning and improvement is key to every match for the young Vols squad.

Some lessons in the first match quickly carried over for the second in the doubleheader as four freshmen made their dual match debuts.

The 13th-ranked Vols took a 4-3 loss to Memphis early but rebounded two hours later to beat Eastern Kentucky in a long 6-1 evening match.

"We're disappointed with a couple of performances," Tennessee head coach Sam Winterbotham said. "Our guys want to win. We know that. The first match of the year is always an interesting one for freshmen. It is what it is. We're young. We have to become mature quickly.

Vols 5, Georgia Tech 2
The Tennessee Volunteers earned their first top-20 win of the season Sunday, beating No. 15 Georgia Tech 5-2 at Goodfriend Tennis Center.

Against their first ranked opponent of the season, the 13th-ranked Vols (2-1) came out firing from the start in doubles and carried the momentum into singles. Tennessee took two matches in straight sets and two Vols rallied in three-setters to seal the victory.

Freshman and Knoxville native Brandon Fickey clinched the match at 4-0 with a 6-4, 7-6 (0) win on court 2 against Juan Melian before the remaining matches were played out.

Next: Sunday vs. Michigan State, ITA Kickoff Weekend, 10 a.m.; Monday (Jan. 30) vs. ITA Kickoff Weekend // FULL SCHEDULE

Women's Tennis (0-2 for the weekend)
Virginia 4, Lady Vols 3
Playing with just five Lady Vols in the singles lineup, the Tennessee women's tennis team lost its season opener 4-3 to ninth-ranked Virginia on Saturday at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing, N.Y.

Recovering from nagging injuries, senior Natalie Pluskota was limited to doubles action, placing the Lady Vols at a 1-0 deficit to start the match. The lone senior played from the No. 1 spot in the lineup in every match last season.

"We lost 4-3 with a missing person in our singles lineup against a team that is top-10 and a quality opponent that's already played some this spring," co-head coach Mike Patrick said. "It was a really good performance for us. I'm really proud of our kids. Our freshmen handled it pretty well considering it was their first day, really, on the job under that pressure."

North Carolina 4, Lady Vols 2
Tennessee dominated its way to the doubles point, but it wasn't enough to overcome a shorthanded singles lineup for the second straight match as the Lady Vols fell 4-2 to fourth-ranked North Carolina on Sunday at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing, N.Y.

Senior Natalie Pluskota was limited to doubles action for the second time this weekend, spotting the Tar Heels (3-1) a point before the match began.

That didn't stop Pluskota and the rest of her teammates from an impressive showing in doubles, as the Lady Vols (0-2) took all three matches to clinch the point.

Next: Friday vs. UC Davis, ITA Kickoff Weekend, 2 p.m.; Saturday vs. ITA Kickoff Weekend // FULL SCHEDULE

Women's Swimming (0-1 for the weekend)
Georgia 169, Vols 131
Despite taking first in two more events than top-ranked Georgia, the 14th-ranked Tennessee Lady Vols swimming and diving team (5-1, 2-1) came up a bit short on Saturday afternoon, as the Lady Bulldogs prevailed by a score of 169-131 at Gabrielsen Natatorium in Athens, Ga.

"We swam really well and it was really about what we expected in terms of our performance," Lady Vol head coach Matt Kredich said. "We had a few people really step forward and race well. We were looking for unconscious, aggressive racing."

Junior Kelsey Floyd accounted for a pair of victories in individual events, while also being on both winning relays versus the Lady Bulldogs. Individually, Floyd swept the fly events, winning the 100y event in 53.59 seconds, while touching in at 1:56.50 in the 200y fly. Both were season-best and NCAA "B" cut readouts for the Lexington, Ky., native.

Next: Saturday vs. Florida, Noon // FULL SCHEDULE

Men's Swimming (0-1 for the weekend)
Georgia 165, Vols 135
The 21st-ranked Tennessee Volunteers won five races and swept first place in the two diving events but lost 165-135 to ninth-ranked Georgia in Athens, Ga.

"We had a great team effort today but came up a little short against a very good Georgia team," Tennessee interim head coach Lars Jorgensen said. "I was proud of the way we competed and had many bests in season times. We just need to get better.

"Most importantly, we fought hard today."

In their final road dual meet, a pair of seniors were responsible for two of the Vols' five wins on the day: Ricky Henahan and Jake Epperson.

Next: Saturday vs. Florida, Noon // FULL SCHEDULE

Upcoming This Week in Other UT Sports
Women's Basketball at Notre Dame, Monday, 7 p.m.; at Alabama, Thursday, 8 p.m. Central; at Georgia, Sunday, 5 p.m.
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