UConn women’s basketball head coach Geno Auriemma. Photo via @UConnWBB on Twitter.
The Tennessee-UConn women’s basketball game is always going to bring out high levels of emotions due to the nature of the rivalry.
That was true when the Lady Vols and Huskies tipped off in Knoxville on Thursday night.
UConn jumped out to an impressive 16-point lead after the first quarter. The Lady Vols, however, weren’t ready to go away that early. Tennessee fought back and outscored UConn by 12 points in the second quarter.
UConn head coach Geno Auriemma was furious going into the halftime break – specifically at the supposed hometown officiating. While speaking with ESPN’s Holly Rowe during the halftime interview, Auriemma hardly held his emotions in check as he rambled and ranted at the officiating in Knoxville before abruptly leaving the interview.
“You told me before the game you couldn’t put them on the free throw line or allow second-chance points,” Rowe said to Auriemma. “How do you address that with your team in the locker room?”
“How do I address it?” Auriemma responded with Rocky Top blaring in the background. “How do I address it?! You don’t address it! This is what you get when you come down here [to Tennessee]. The game was called one way and then changed. Nothing else changed. We didn’t change! Nothing else changed.”
Auriemma proceeded to immediately walk out as Rowe was thanking the head coach for his time.
Frustration is one thing, but to blatantly disrespect Rowe by walking out after ranting and yelling is a completely different thing. It’s an embarrassing moment, frankly. And then added in is the fact that Auriemma is implying that the officiating is in Tennessee’s favor due to the game being played in Knoxville.
Quite the moment in Knoxville.
Geno Auriemma was not happy with the officiating in the second quarter. pic.twitter.com/erA03SARxM
— ESPN (@espn) January 27, 2023
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UConn once again found its stride in the third quarter and carried that to an 84-67 victory over the Lady Vols in the final 20 minutes of the game.
“That was a great environment to play basketball in today, loved the fans coming out and being loud,” Tennessee HC Kellie Harper said after the game. “It was fun to be a part of. Obviously, (it was) really tough to slow them down today. They were making about every open shot they had. They had a few too many open shots, but they were making some tough shots as well. We just weren’t able to get enough stops to give ourselves a chance to win the game. Proud of our fight. I thought we had good effort. Hopefully, we can learn from this, grow and be a better basketball team.”
Tennessee will have to pick up the pieces quickly though as No. 4 LSU now waits to host the Lady Volunteers on Monday night at 7:00 p.m. ET.
Holly Rowe asked Geno Auriemma how he will address his team on how much UT went to the FT line.
“How do I address it? You don’t address it! This is what you get when you come down here. The game was called one way, and then it changed. Nothing else changed; we didn’t change.”
— Rocky Top Insider (@rockytopinsider) January 27, 2023