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Tennessee is still ‘evaluating’ injured star Rickea Jackson

Tennessee forward Rickea Jackson has been sidelined with a lower leg injury since Nov. 9. (Brianna Paciorka/USA TODAY NETWORK)

Tennessee basketball is still “evaluating” Rickea Jackson’s injury “each and every day,” head coach Kellie Harper said Tuesday.

The fifth-year senior forward has been sidelined with a lower leg injury since Nov. 9, and she has been wearing a boot on her right foot.

“We’re still in the same situation where each and every day is the day we’re going to be evaluating her,” Harper told the Knoxville News Sentinel’s Cora Hall. “Each day is different. So, literally, I’ll walk in today and find out what she’s doing today. I know (the boot) was definitely off some.”

Last week, Harper said the team could not put a timetable on Jackson’s recovery. Through two games, Jackson led the team with 22.0 points and 12.0 rebounds, but she has missed four games in a row.

Jackson was projected as a lottery pick for the 2023 WNBA draft. But she chose to remain in college for a fifth season, using her extra year of COVID-19 eligibility with the Vols.

Even without Jackson, Tennessee’s 71-57 loss to Indiana on Thanksgiving Day was the most-watched women’s basketball game ever on FOX. With 1.18 million viewers, the contest also stands as the most-watched on any network so far this season.

While Harper called her team “just too nice” after that loss, the Vols rebounded with a 76-73 win over then-ranked Oklahoma. No. 20 Tennessee is 12-30 against ranked opponents in Harper’s five seasons at the helm, heading into its next game against No. 18 Notre Dame at 5 p.m. ET Wednesday.