LAdy vols vs msu

No. 15 Jasmine Powell is congradulated by teammates after scoring against Mississippi State at Thompson-Boling Arena. Thursday Jan. 5, 2023.

Tennessee (11-6, 3-0) defeated Mississippi State (12-4, 1-2) 80-69 in Thompson-Boling Arena on Thursday. 


Jordan Horston led the way for Tennessee, finishing with 27 points, 14 rebounds, and 5 assists. 


“It was a tough win to get,” head coach Kellie Harper said. “It was the prettiest, it wasn’t the most fluid, but we thought we were able to do what we needed to do.”


Here are three takeaways from the Lady Vols’ win.


Rickea’s revenge tour


Emotions peaked at the 5:19 mark in the 2nd quarter when the officials assessed technical fouls on Rickea Jackson and Jerkaila Jordan. Jackson was jawing with her former teammate for most of the first half. After the tech, she let her game do the talking the rest of the night. 


“At the end of the day, if we stay within ourselves, we’re going to win,” Jackson said. “I felt like it was fun. I think those types of games are fun. The energy, the emotion, seeing former teammates, former friends on the team. I feel like it was fun and I’m just glad we were able to pull it out.”


Jackson was having fun against the Bulldogs. She finished with 18 points and six rebounds. 


The 6-foot-2 forward has hit her stride for the Lady Vols. She recently earned her first SEC Player of the Week award after averaging 25 points on 74% shooting. She only missed seven shots during that stretch. 


At the rate Jackson is playing, she is a shoo-in for the Sixth Woman of the Year award. 


“The opponent will change what they’re doing when (Jackson) comes in the game,” head coach Kellie Harper said. “They’re looking to see when she’s going in. We can put her in different spots.”


Crash the offensive glass


Rebounds have been an area of concern for Harper for much of the season. Offensive rebounds have been an even bigger concern. 


On Thursday, the Lady Vols dominated the glass on both sides of the floor. Tennessee finished with 50 rebounds, 25 of which were offensive. The 25 offensive boards led to 23 second-chance points. 

Horston led the way with eight offensive rebounds.


“Just being resilient and tough,” Horston said on what led to her dominance on the offensive glass. “We practice that. They know the scout is to box us out, we just got to go around the box out. No matter what, just make it happen.”


Tennessee’s 25 offensive boards on Thursday tied its season-high. 

More impressively, the Lady Vols held the Bulldogs to 31 rebounds, only 10 offensively. Mississippi State only came away with 10 second-chance points. 


For the Lady Vols to sustain success, they will need to perform on the boards every night as they did on Thursday.


“We’ve been working hard on our offensive rebounding production,” Harper said. “Obviously, we have a lot of players that can impact the game there. Rickea and Jordan and their athletic ability, their quickness to the ball, their quickness off the ground, and their size gives them a great advantage in that area.”


Closing out games


Against Alabama on Sunday, and again against Mississippi State on Thursday, it seemed the fourth quarter got dicey at times for Tennessee. 


When things got hard down the stretch, Horston came through for the Lady Vols. She had 13 points and six rebounds in the fourth quarter alone. 


“When we needed those buckets, she got them,” Harper said. “She was really aggressive getting in the paint, finding opportunities, not settling as much there in the second half.”


Horston bailed Tennessee out on Thursday. Down the stretch, the Lady Vols will have to make crucial plays to ensure success in the later half of games. 


One play can make a difference in a conference game. On Thursday, the Lady Vols had several plays go their way. 


“For our players, we’ve got to understand that all these little plays matter. When it looks like we might be able to pull away, a little bit in the third, but in the fourth, we’d make a mistake… The margin for error is so small, one play in the middle of the third quarter could result in momentum. You’ve got to understand when you’re out there, every possession is precious.”

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