all scores

Kellie Harper: Rickea Jackson ‘working’ in bench role for Tennessee

Tennessee's leading scorer Rickea Jackson has not been in the starting lineup since November. (Calvin Mattheis/ USA TODAY NETWORK)

Rickea Jackson is the leading scorer for Tennessee women’s basketball team, but she has not featured in the starting lineup since she was benched for two games in early December.

Vols coach Kellie Harper does not plan to make changes to the lineup, she said after her team’s 92-53 win Tuesday night against Wofford.

“We’re playing pretty well right now. It’s been good for us,” Harper said. “I’m not holding her out for any reason other than just the way we’ve been playing, it’s been working.”

Jackson scored a team-high 16 points in Tuesday’s victory, right in line with her team-leading 16.1 points per game this season. Jordan Horston is the only other player on Tennessee averaging double figures, with 15.8 points per game.

The senior forward missed the Vols’ Dec. 4 loss to No. 7 Virginia Tech and their Dec. 6 win against Chattanooga due to a “coach’s decision.” She returned to the lineup for a Dec. 11 win against Wright State, but in the four games since her benching, she has entered as a substitute.

Her absence came after a tough November for Tennessee (8-6), which included losses to then-unranked Gonzaga and UCLA. Both those teams have since jumped into the AP Top 25, and the Vols have stabilized.

Jackson came to Tennessee after entering the transfer portal from Mississippi State in January of last season. At Mississippi State, Jackson led her team in scoring each season, averaging 16.2 points, 5.3 rebounds and 1.4 steals per contest.

For Tennessee, she not only leads the team in scoring, she also averages the second-most rebounds on the team at 5.4, just behind senior guard Horston at 6.2. And she averages the second-most minutes per game at 23.2, behind Horston at 23.6.

“She came off the bench and did really well against Stanford, had a good game prior to that,” Harper said of Jackson. “So I’m not doing it for any reason other than just right now what our team is doing, it looks good.”