There are more connections when Tennessee and Kentucky play than there are at some family reunions.
UK’s Matthew Mitchell began his coaching career there as a grad assistant under Pat Summitt in 2000. Cats assistant coach Shalon Pillow was a Lady Vol and helped them advance to two Final Fours.
On the orange side, Tennessee assistant Kyra Elzy left UK, where she worked for five seasons for her alma mater.
And most recently, Tennessee hired former Kentucky point guard Amber Smith (a 2012 grad) to be a graduate assistant on their staff.
Smith, who wore a bright orange shirt and khaki pants on the UT bench on Saturday, said she got over the strangeness of going up against so many of her UK teammates at the regular-season matchup in Knoxville. She spent a lot of time with friends like Samarie Walker and Bria Goss after the Cats’ upset win.
Asked how it would be for her when the SEC title game tips off on Sunday between UK and Tennessee, she smiled.
“I’m going for Tennessee,” she said. “I’m a Lady Vol now. … Definitely going for orange tomorrow.”
Smith said her allegiances are only split when the two teams meet.
“Other than that, I bleed blue,” she said. “I’m cheering for them when they’re not playing against the Lady Vols. … I want the girls to do well. I love them to death.”