Lady Vols Basketball vs Ole Miss
Lou Brown looking to find an open teammate during the game against Ole Miss on February 27, 2020 in Thompson-Boling Arena.

The SEC Tournament started this past week and the Lady Vols earned a bye during the first round after finishing the regular season with a 20-9 record overall and a 9-6 record in the SEC. They awaited the winner of the Missouri/Ole Miss match and ended up playing the Tigers. Tennessee was able to advance to the second round after beating Missouri, 64-51, but fell in the third against No. 16/18 Kentucky, 86-65.

Here’s how they graded out during the SEC Tournament.

Backcourt

Jazmine Massengill struggled to get anything going during her playing time in the tournament.

Massengill shot 1 of 3 from the field, which was good for four points against Missouri. She recorded just one rebound, two assists, one block and one steal in 23 minutes.

The sophomore was able to rebound a little bit against Kentucky. During her 24 minutes of play, Massengill went 3 of 6 from the field, good for six points. She also tallied three rebounds, five assists, a block and three turnovers.

Teams were able to shut Massengill down during the final few games of the regular season, and it continued into tournament play. She wasn’t able to produce on the offensive end of the floor, and that lack of productivity spread into other areas of her game.

While Jordan Horston didn’t get the start, she totaled more minutes than her counterpart during the past two games, and outperformed Massengill in almost all aspects.

Against Missouri, Horston scored only six points on seven shots, but impacted the game in more ways. She finished with six boards, two assists, two blocks and three steals. The biggest highlight however, is her one turnover in 28 minutes.

Horston played even better against the Wildcats. The freshman dropped a career-high 24 points and even went 4-for-7 from behind the arc. She grabbed four rebounds and assisted on two buckets. She did however turn the ball over four times in 23 minutes.

Horston was playing better coming off the bench after she started to fizzle out during the season, so no one should be upset by her not starting. She easily picked up the offense during the Kentucky game where so many other players faded away.

Grade: B-

Frontcourt

For the first time all season, Rennia Davis was human.

The Lady Vols captain took 14 shots against Missouri and scored just 15 points. She did finish with nine rebounds, but only recorded one assist, while also getting one block and a steal in 34 minutes.

Davis shot even worse against Kentucky by going 5 of 16 from the field for 14 points. This time she totaled just three rebounds, but did get four assists and two steals and also turned the ball over three times in 36 minutes.

Davis has been the stable leader for Tennessee throughout the entire season. She is the type of player that teammates rally behind; a player you give the ball to and say take me there. Unfortunately for the Lady Vols, she wasn’t able to pull it off this time.

Rae Burrell helped lead Tennessee to a win against Missouri but failed to make an impact in their final game against Kentucky.

Burrell had a game-high 16 points and four rebounds. She shot just 4 of 14 from the field, but made seven of 11 attempts at the charity stripe. She also turned the ball over just once in 34 minutes.

Against Kentucky, she put up nine shots and scored just four points. She also finished with just three rebounds, and one assist, while turning the ball over twice. Burrell played a total of 30 minutes in the final game.

Burrell proved to be Tennessee’s best player in the second round of the SEC Tournament, but disappeared in round three. This was a huge blow to the Lady Vols production, which eventually led to them having an early exit.

Lou Brown shined in some moments but frustrated in others throughout the regular season and that trend continued into tournament play.

Brown didn’t score a point and went 0-for-2 from the field against Missouri, but did finish with six rebounds. During the rest of her 27 minutes, she tallied one assist, one block and three turnovers.

Brown played better against Kentucky. In 30 minutes of play, Brown went a perfect 4-4 from the field, and 2-2 from behind the arc to give Tennessee 10 points. She even finished with a team-high seven rebounds. Brown also chipped in an assist and two blocks. However, the Aussie native finished with a team-high in turnovers as well, with five.

Brown was a non-factor in the Lady Vols game against Missouri, but played a major part in their game against Kentucky. When the lights shined brightest, she showed up and played like she should have been all season.

Tamari Key had a good showing in both games, but struggled to find some offensive consistency.

Key had eight points against the Tigers and shot 3 of 6 from the field in 14 minutes. She only finished with three rebounds and a block, along with a turnover.

Against Kentucky, she scored just five points, but was more active on the glass and grabbed six rebounds. Key also assisted on two shots and blocked seven shots, while turning the ball over just once, over her entire 14 minutes of play.

Like Brown, Key played her best in the most important game of the Lady Vols season, and brings up the question as to why she didn’t get more minutes during the game against Kentucky? While she wasn’t consistent during the regular season, coaches need to ride with the hot hand and Kasiyahna Kushkituah, Key’s replacement, grabbed just two rebounds over 17 minutes in the game against Kentucky.

Grade: B-

Offense

The Tennessee offense averaged 64.5 points during the SEC Tournament and was consistently putting pressure on its opponents.

The Lady Vols started off slow against Missouri, and were down by as much as 13 before the half. They caught fire in the third quarter and outscored the Tigers, 23-6, which helped them to take the lead and eventually, the game. In the third quarter, Tennessee shot 61.5% from the field and made 6 of 8 free throw attempts.

Tennessee led Missouri in points in the paint (34-20), points off turnovers (18-11), second chance points (7-3) and bench points (21-8).

The Lady Vols were able to find the bottom of the net against the Wildcats, but ultimately couldn’t hang with Kentucky.

Tennessee was outscored in the first three quarters, and only scored one more point than Kentucky in the final stanza, 16-15. Tennessee’s best quarter was the third, where they shot 50% from the field and scored 21 points.

Tennessee outperformed in just one category, and that was second chance points, where the Lady Vols scored 10 points to Kentucky’s seven.

Grade: B

Defense

The Lady Vols were unable to contain Kentucky, which led to the inevitable blowout. However, they played well against Missouri during the second half.

Tennessee allowed 17 points in each of the first two quarters but they made the right halftime adjustments and allowed 17 points for the rest of the game. Missouri’s best quarter was the second quarter. The Tigers shot 60% from the field, including 3-4 from three. However Tennessee held them to just 7.1% from the field in the third and 0 of 8 from three.

Missouri only had two players above 10 points, Aijha Blackwell and Hannah Schuchts, who had 13 and 11, respectively. Tennessee also out-rebounded Missouri, 39-37.

The defense was a much different story against Kentucky.

Kentucky didn’t score fewer than 15 points in a quarter, and scored 27 points in both the second and third quarters. In those quarters, Kentucky shot a combined shooting percentage of 68.8% from the field, 66.7% from deep and 66.7% from the free throw line.

While both teams had the same rebound totals, 36, Kentucky out-performed Tennessee in a plethora of categories. Kentucky had more points off turnovers (19-6), fast break points (10-9) and bench points (32-26).

Grade: C

Overall

The Lady Vols SEC Tournament run came to an end against Kentucky, but them making it to the third round should be a huge accomplishment for this incredibly young team. They played well against Missouri and ran into a program that was just playing hotter at that particular moment.

Now all they can do is wait for the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament bracket to come out next Monday to see where they fit in the upcoming tournament.

Grade: C+

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