Women's Basketball vs. Texas A&M

Tamari Key (20) during the Lady Vols vs Texas A&M game on Jan. 6, 2022 at Thompson-Boling Arena. 

Ole Miss came into Sunday’s matchup versus the Lady Vols riding a 13-game winning streak. 

The Lady Vols ended that streak, defeating the Rebels 70-58 in Mississippi.

“This is a really good win for our team. This is a terrific basketball team we just played,” head coach Kellie Harper said. “We knew they were going to be tough, they were going to play hard, going to be physical, they’re athletic and they’ve got a player who’s potentially going to be the player of the year.”

“This was a big win for our team… Really proud of our team for making the adjustments mid game to win.”

Here are three takeaways from the Lady Vols’ victory.

Three-headed monster 

Three Lady Vols finished the day in double figures – Jordan Horston, Alexus Dye and Tess Darby.

Horston picked up her seventh double-double of the season – her previous two seasons she had one combined double-double – finishing the game with 20 points and 11 boards.

“Everybody can get hot,” Horston said. “I have so much faith in everybody. If one person isn’t doing well, everybody steps up. That’s scary. We have a really good team and when somebody’s not playing well, somebody else is picking up the slack.”

Dye played like the Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year player she is on Sunday afternoon. Dye tallied 17 points and 4 rebounds. She made tough shots in the paint and drained mid-range jumpers all-day against the Rebels. 

Darby had a career day for the Orange and White. Darby racked up a career high in points with 13 and grabbed 4 rebounds. She drained 3 of the 4 three pointers that Tennessee made over the course of the game. 

“Just doing what I do everything single game, stepping up and having the same mindset,” Darby said on her approach going into the game. “Our guards were attacking, as well as posts, so they started doubling and my girl was losing so I knew I had to step up and knock down those shots.”

Turnovers almost cost Lady Vols

Ole Miss has wreaked havoc all season defensively, ranked eighth nationally in scoring defense, 10th in total steals and 31st in turnovers forced. They continued that trend versus the Lady Vols. 

The Rebels forced Tennessee into 22 turnovers during the course of the game on Sunday. 

UT only had 8 turnovers in the first half, but once Ole Miss pressure the Lady Vols full court, it changed the pace of the game. Tennessee had 14 turnovers in the second half, and it almost boosted a comeback for the Rebels. 

The biggest issue with the turnovers, was they were done by primary ball handlers – Hortson, Jordan Walker and Brooklyn Miles. 

The trio of guards accounted for 16 of the 22 turnovers during the contest. 

Despite some sloppy play, the Lady Vols overcame adversity and dominated defensively to defeat Ole Miss by double-digits. 

“That’s something we’ve done well all year, play through whatever happens. Play through our mistakes offensively, play through our mistakes defensively, play through adversity. That’s what our team does,” Harper said. “Obviously we want to clean those up. We don’t want to have turnovers like that. For us to have the poise to play through those is really important.”

Lady Vols win rebound battle . . . again

In the previous 15 games, the Lady Vols have won 14 of the 15 rebound battles. Their record in which they do win the battle of the boards is 14-0. Vice versa, they are 0-1 when they do not. 

Add another tally to the win column after the contest Sunday. 

UT outrebounded the Rebels by 18, 46-28. Seventeen of those rebounds came offensively, which led to 20 second chance points.

Horston led the team in boards with 11, Tamari Key had 7 and Dye, Darby and Miles each had 4. 

It has become the identity of the Lady Vols to dominate the glass, and they are not shying away from it. 

“I thought going in we talked to our team about the rebounding anymore, I probably don’t have to talk to them about it, but it’s our thing,” Harper said. “We knew we needed to get some second chance points. We knew we were going to have to get in there and get all over the boards. To win the rebounding battle, I was really excited that we were able to do that because I think that’s what separates us in many of our games.”

“Like Pat Summit said – offense sells tickets, defense wins games, and rebounding wins championships,” Horston said.  

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