Lady Vols Basketball vs Ole Miss
Rae Burrell, # 12, pushing the ball up the court against Ole Miss on February 27, 2020 in Thompson-Boling Arena.

The Tennessee Lady Volunteers finished the last week of the season on a positive note. They defeated both Ole Miss and Auburn to finish with a regular season record of 20-9, and with an SEC record of 10-6. They also earned the 6th seed in the SEC women’s tournament, where they will play either No. 11 Missouri or No.14 Ole Miss. 

Here is how the Lady Vols graded out this past week. 

Frontcourt

Jazmine Massengill started in both games and struggled mightily to put the ball in the basket in both contests, but performed well in all the other areas. 

Against the Rebels, Massengill went 0-3 from the field. However, she did have eight rebounds and six assists, along with a block. She also only turned the ball over twice in her 23 minutes of work. 

Massengill still struggled to find her shot against the Tigers. The sophomore shot 2-7 from the field and scored just five points. She grabbed five rebounds and also dished out five assists. Massengil even recorded a block and a steal to just one turnover in 37 minutes. 

Massengill’s shot this past week could have some people nervous as to what she will do in the SEC Tournament, but her value comes from everything else she provides Tennessee on the court. If she is able to grab a handful of rebounds and find open teammates at her usual clip, then she will be a big boon for this young Lady Vols squad. 

Grade: B

Backcourt

Rennia Davis continued to climb the ranks as one of the best Tennessee players to ever put on a Lady Vol jersey.

The veteran leader recorded her 28th double-double of her career against Ole Miss as she scored a team-high 19 points and grabbed a team-high 11 rebounds. She also tallied four assists and just two turnovers in 35 minutes.

She finished the Auburn game with her 29th double-double, which ties former Tennessee player Bashaara Graves for 10th all-time among Lady Vols. Not only that, but her 22 points in the game gave Davis her sixth 20-plus point game of the season and her 13th of her career, which ranks her at ninth all-time in Tennessee history. 

As long as Davis is on the court, the Lady Vols have a chance to win any ball game. She provides them with dominant offense, consistent glass work, and steady defense. Tennessee goes as Davis does and lucky for it, that will be pretty far. 

Rae Burrell took some steps back this past week from her usual dominant self. 

She played well against Ole Miss. Burrell scored 14 points on 5-12 shooting, including two three pointers, and also grabbed four boards while assisting on a shot. She recorded a steal, but also a turnover in 29 minutes.

Burrell struggled in the season finale. She went 1-5 from the field, and totaled just three points. She only got two rebounds and tallied one assist and one steal. Coach played her for 18 minutes, which was most likely because she finished with five turnovers. 

While it can be easy to say that she just had a bad game, Auburn is not at the same talent level as teams Burrell has played well against. There were some aspects of her game against the Rebels that didn’t look as sharp either. These were playoff type games for the Lady Vols and they need Burrell to act like that No. 2 for Davis.

Lou Brown had a mixed week like so many other Tennessee players. 

Brown scored just two points on seven shots, in her final game regular season game at Thompson-Boling Arena. She recorded three rebounds and two assists to just one turnover against Ole Miss.

At Auburn, Brown scored nine points on 3-6 shooting, all from three, and grabbed eight boards, assisted on a shot, tallied a block and two steals, without a turnover. 

The Lou Brown that played in Auburn needs to show up in the playoffs. She played 32 minutes that game and went off, which makes it even more confusing how poorly she played against the worst team in the SEC and logged 26 minutes in that contest. 

Kamera Harris made the start in the place of Tamari Key against Ole Miss for senior night. Key took the starting spot back against Auburn. 

Harris went 0-2 from the field that game and played just 10 minutes. Key on the other hand, played 18 minutes and went 6-9 and finished the game with 17 points and seven rebounds. She also picked the defenders’ pockets twice. 

Key only played 10 minutes against the Tigers due to foul trouble. She totaled just two points, three rebounds and a turnover.

It was not a good showing from the Lady Vols’ bigs during this past week. Key’s performance against the Rebels was great, her best of the year, but she immediately followed it up by getting into foul trouble in a playoff-esque game. Kamera and Kasiyahna Kushkituah are not able to step in Key’s place and play meaningful minutes. Her availability and her ability to replicate what she did against Ole Miss will be essential in the tournament.

Grade: C

Offense

Tennessee’s offense was brilliant in some situations and mind-numbing in others. 

The Lady Vols took care of business in their last home game of the regular season. Tennessee outscored Ole Miss in the first and third quarters by a combined score of 17 points. Its best quarter was the third as they shot 57.1% from the field, 50% from three, and 90.9% from the charity stripe. 

The Lady Vols also outscored Ole Miss in the paint (34-18), off of turnovers (12-6), off of second chance points (17-0), fast break points (10-8) and bench points (42-22). 

Tennessee was unable to break away from Auburn for the majority of the game. The Lady Vols finally broke through in the final quarter, where they outscored Auburn, 17-8. However, their most efficient quarter came in the opening frame. They shot 69.2% from the field, and 62.5% from three point land. 

Tennessee also outscored the Tigers in points in the paint (30-22), fast break points (12-4), and points off of the bench (15-9). The Lady Vols also out rebounded Auburn, 50-26, but they turned the ball over 24 times to Auburn’s six.

Tennessee scored tons of points against Ole Miss and did it in an efficient manner. The final game against Auburn was puzzling as they out-performed their opponent in many different categories but won the game by just one point, which may not have happened if Auburn converted both of their free throws to end regulation. 

Grade: C+

Defense

The defense was able to hold their opponents in check for the most part over these final two games.

The Lady Vols handled the Rebels on defense. They defeated Ole Miss by 11 points. Even though they gave up 43 points to two players alone, they held three Rebels to zero points, all of which played more than 10 minutes. 

Ole Miss outscored Tennessee in the second and fourth quarters by a combined score of six. Its best offensive quarter came in the third where they scored 22 points on 7-15 shooting, while making five threes. 

Auburn finished the game with only two players above 10 points, Daisa Alexander and Robyn Benton, who scored 15 and 11, respectively. The Tigers’ best quarter was the final stanza, as they scored 17 points on 41.7% shooting and made 6-7 from the free throw line. Overall, Auburn shot just 28.8% from the field, 18.2% from three, and 73.9% from the free throw line. 

They bested the Lady Vols in points off turnover (22-11) and second chance points (14-11), and Tennessee was also unable to force any mistakes, as it turned the ball over just six times.

Grade: B-

Overall

The Lady Vols won both of their games this past week, which is the most important thing. With those wins, Tennessee continued to have 20 or more wins in 43 of the past 44 years, which is a very impressive feat. The Lady Vols also secured the No. 6 spot in the SEC Tournament and will face either Missouri or Ole Miss, two teams that they have already beaten. 

However, the quality of the wins are still up in the air. Tennessee should have been more dominant in the match against Ole Miss and it didn’t look ready to play at all against Auburn. If this carries into the playoffs is still unclear, but this question shouldn’t be asked. 

The Lady Vols will get great play from Davis. They hope Burrell can rediscover what she had just a week ago, and they want Jordan Horston to continue being a lightning rod from off the bench. If Key and Brown can play like they did in their best games of the past week, then this Lady Vols team can go far. It is just up to them

Grade: C+

UT Sponsored Content