Lady Vols vs Alabama
Lady Vol players celebrate after winning the game against Alabama on Monday, January 20, 2020 at Thompson-Boling Arena.

The Lady Vols won their two game this past week, as they defeated Florida 78-50, and Alabama 65-53. These two victories helped keep Tennessee inside the top 25 and has them on a four match winning streak. 

Here is how they graded out.

Backcourt

Jordan Horston earned herself the honor of being named the SEC Women’s Basketball Freshman of the Week. 

Against Florida, Horston played a textbook example of at point guard. While she scored only nine points, she assisted on five baskets, grabbed four rebounds, recorded three blocks and stole a ball in 23 minutes during Tennessee’s win against the Gators. 

Horston became the offensive focal point against Alabama. The freshman led the Lady Vols in scoring with 19 points. She also brought down eight rebounds, tallied four assists, and finished with a career-best four blocks, with another steal. 

While she did turn the ball over eight times over the two games, second on the team during that span, she clearly earned her spot as one of the best freshman during the past week.

Shooting guard, Jazmine Massengill had a productive week in her own right. 

While in Gainesville, Massengill shot an efficient 3 of 5 from the field and even made a three to give her team 8 points. She even pulled down five rebounds and assisted on eight baskets, while also getting a steal in 28 minutes.

The sophomore struggled a little during the home match against Alabama. While she did go 2 of 3 from 3-point range, she only shot the ball five times and missed her other two shots. She recorded three rebounds, three assists, and a block, but coughed up the ball four times. 

Consistency was a struggle for Massengill. The turnovers in the second game posed a problem, but turnovers were a problem for all of the starters other than Tamari Key. 

Grade: A-

Frontcourt

Junior leader Rennia Davis will be best remembered this week for her game-winning 3-point shot against Alabama, but she was so much more than that. 

Davis’ homecoming in Florida was nothing short of dominant. She dropped 18 points on 57% shooting, grabbing five rebounds, tallying one assist and a block, while also stealing four balls from the Gators. 

Davis was even more efficient against Alabama. She scored 16 points on 7 of 11 and drained her one and only 3-pointer. She was one rebound away from a double-double, and recorded a block. She did have four turnovers, but her last second heroics outweigh those mistakes.

Lou Brown contributed in her normal 3-point fashion. She shot 3 of 5 and made a three to finish the game with seven points. She also finished with two rebounds and one assist. Brown only played 17 minutes in the Florida match.

Brown’s numbers were slightly better against Alabama as she scored six points on 2-4 shooting, all three point attempts. She recorded four rebounds, two assists, but did have two turnovers. Like Massengill, Brown has a nice stroke and needs to be more aggressive with her shots. 

Lastly, Tamari Key was an absolute force inside the paint. Over two games, she recorded 11 blocks, five against Florida and six against Alabama. 

While she wasn’t able to find her shot in the Florida match, 2 of 5 for four points, or the Alabama game, 1 of 5 for four points. She did record nine rebounds and an assist against Florida, and she tallied 10 rebounds and another assist against Alabama. Key didn’t turned the ball over during her 44 minutes of play.

Key also struggled to find her groove offensively, as she only took 10 shots and made only three. She should have found more success against two teams that did not play a true center to start the games. 

Grade: B-

Offense

Tennessee shot 53% while in Gainesville, the eighth time all year that they have made at least half of its shots. The Lady Vols shot poorly from behind the arc, only 29%, but when they make half of their shots and make 9 of 10 shots from the free throw line, the poor 3-point shooting can be excused. 

Alabama proved to be a much stingier team than Florida. During the first quarter, Tennessee shot 50% from the field, but Alabama made the quarter adjustment to hold Tennessee to a 21%. 

Tennessee made adjustments of its own to come out of the half, and promptly shot 47% from the field and 75% from three. Their best quarter was the final period as Tennessee shot 71% from the field and 67% from 3-point range.

Tennessee handled its business in Gainesville, but came home to a tough performance against the Tide. Percentage wise, Tennessee was the far better team and played more consistent offense than Alabama did, but needed a last second shot to get the win.

Grade: B

Defense

Tennessee suffocated both of its opponents this past week for a majority of the game. 

The Gators best offensive performance came in the final quarter but at that point the Lady Vols were already up by 23. Tennessee also walked away with two more steals than Florida and had one less turnover. 

Alabama, like Florida, did not find its stride until the final quarter. They shot 28% over the first three periods, yet stayed in the game and was only down  41-37. The fourth quarter saw Alabama go 9 of 14 from the field or 64%, and 4 of 7 from three. Alabama outscored Tennessee in the second half of the game and even had the lead until Davis’ miracle three. 

In both games, the other teams were able to make late game adjustments to expose holes in the Lady Vols defense. 

Grade: B-

Overall

Tennessee came out on top in both matches, which is all you can ask for in the long run. However, with some of the team struggling to find consistency on offense and finishing matches with a lack of volume as far as shots are concerned. It will be a struggle for the team to score when players like Horston and Davis are off of their game, against better teams. 

The good news is that Horston and Davis are consistently delivering when their team needs it most. The Lady Vols are still young and learning, which should excite fans going forward. They have already shown tons of promise for a team with so much youth and run by a first year coach in Kellie Harper. 

The aggressive nature that these players need to adopt and the lack of closing ability will come, and very quickly with this particular group.

Grade: B+

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