Lady vols vs Indiana

No. 21 Tess Darby defends against Indiana's No. 22 Chloe Moore-McNeil at Thompson-Bowling Arena. Monday Nov. 14, 2022.

No. 12 Indiana defeated No. 11 Tennessee 79-67 on Monday in Thompson-Boling Arena.

Jordan Horston’s absence obviously hurt the Lady Vols on Monday, but it seems their problems may be bigger than just Horston’s injury.

Here’s how the team graded out.

Backcourt

Even without Horston, the backcourt was a bright spot for Tennessee.

Jasmine Powell, a guard transfer from Minnesota, finished Monday with a double-double. She dropped 16 points while grabbing 10 boards. She also was the main ball-handler for Tennessee and finished with only one turnover. Powell was all over the court and made several plays when the Lady Vols desperately needed them.

Tess Darby, replacing Horston in the starting lineup, had a good night as well. She finished with nine points on three threes.

Jordan Walker finished with one point in 28 minutes. She contributed with four assists for the Lady Vols.

Grade: A-

Frontcourt

Rickea Jackson led the Lady Vols in scoring on Monday, with 17 points. She also tallied four assists and six boards. On the flip side, she had six of Tennessee’s 15 turnovers, contributing to Indiana’s 15 points off of turnovers.

Jackson went 2-3 from beyond the arc, a much-needed addition to her game.

Tamari Key, Tennessee’s center, picked up 14 points. At 6-foot-6, Key only picked up three rebounds, a lackluster stat for the Lady Vols’ center.

It also seemed, at times, that Key’s presence in the paint did more hurt than help. When Jackson and others would drive, the paint was clogged, leading to a lot of contested shots.

Aside from Jackson and Key, Tennessee’s frontcourt did not see many contributions, and head coach Kellie Harper was quick to pull anyone who was not helping.

Grade: B-

Offense

The offense hasn’t seemed to be an issue for this team. Tennessee scored 75 points and 74 points in its first two contests. Without Horston, who was Tennessee’s leading scorer a season ago, it makes sense that the Lady Vols wouldn’t break 70 points against Indiana.

What is worrying about Monday’s performance is the lack of spreading the scoring around. Tennessee had 10 bench points on Monday. Starter Jordan Walker only had one point in 28 minutes on the floor.

If teams going forward know that Tennessee wants to score with Jackson, Key and Powell, then this team will be very easy to defend.

We saw it on Monday night. Indiana’s goal was to limit paint touches for the Lady Vols, and they succeeded. Jackson was forced to settle for mid-range jumpers often. Tennessee finished with 20 points in the paint.

Regardless of all of that, Tennessee shot almost 40% from the field and turned the ball over 15 times. The offense did enough to win, even if it was a three-player show.

Grade: B-

Defense

Rebounds. Rebounds. Rebounds.

Tennessee got out-rebounded 33-35. It’s very hard to win if you can’t win on the boards. The Lady Vols also gave up 10 offensive rebounds, leading to 17 second-chance points. This was particularly an issue in the first half when Indiana hit three threes off of offensive rebounds.

Indiana had five players in double digits and spread the Lady Vols out. Indiana shot 44.4% from the field.

Second-chance possessions killed Tennessee. It is very hard to stop a team once — much less twice or even three times.

Grade: D

Coaching & Overall

Harper relied heavily on her veterans and proven scorers on Monday night. The rotation is still a work in progress, as is the whole team.

Harper wants her team to get punched in the mouth to see how they respond. So far, the response has not been good.

Rebounding continues to be an issue for the Lady Vols and has yet to be fixed through three games.

It is a long season, and the rebounding may work itself out. In the long run, Tennessee may benefit from the gauntlet of a schedule it plays.

In the short run, Tennessee is 1-2 for the first time since 1981-82. The Lady Vols are not known for getting outplayed, outhustled and outrebounded on their home floor like they were on Monday.

This team has a lot to fix, and fast.

Grade: C

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