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Tennessee guard no. 5 Kaiya Wynn at the Lady Vols basketball game vs. ETSU on Monday, Dec. 20, 2021.

The Lady Vols wrapped up pre-Christmas play versus Stanford on Saturday and ETSU on Monday. 

In the top-10 matchup on Saturday, the Lady Vols lost their first game of the season to the Cardinal, 74-63, but regrouped to demolish ETSU 112-58.

Here are the grades from the two games for the Lady Vols.

Backcourt

Only one player performed at a high level for the Lady Vols against Stanford and that was Jordan Horston. 

Horston led the team in scoring and rebounding on Saturday. She tallied her fifth double-double of the season dropping 19 points and grabbing 12 boards. Horston also dished out 5 assists, tallied 4 steals and a block. 

Other than Horston, the backcourt underperformed against Stanford.

Jordan Walker and Tess Darby combined to shoot 3-for-12 from the floor and 2-for-6 from three. Walker scored 8 points and Darby was unable to make a bucket. 

Off the bench Brooklyn Miles played 18 minutes but only scored 5 points and had 3 rebounds and 2 assists.

Stanford’s backcourt outperformed UT’s, as they had three guards in double figures and accounted for about 75% of Stanford’s points in assists and scoring. 

In the ETSU game, the starters had decent performances, but the spotlight was stolen by the bench. 

The starting backcourt of Horston, Walker and Darby combined to score only 11 points on 5-of-21 shooting from the floor and 0-for-6 from downtown. 

Off the bench, Kaiya Wynn turned in her first double-double in the orange and white, posting 12 points and 10 boards. 

Jessie Rennie played a career-high 23 minutes and tallied 5 points. 

Grade: C+

Frontcourt

The anchor in the middle for the Lady Vols - Tamari Key - had a tough outing against Stanford. 

Key was in foul trouble and only played four minutes in the first half and finished the game only seeing 16 minutes of court action. 

She turned in a season low in points and rebounds - scoring a point and snagging 5 boards. 

Alexus Dye had a solid showing against the Cardinal. She finished the game with 14 points and 8 boards. 

The biggest storyline coming into the game is the matchup versus Stanford's leading scorer Cameron Brink. Brink averaged 15.3 points per game heading into the matchup, but the Lady Vols held her in check. 

She finished with a season-low in points with 4 and fouled out for the first time all season. 

Against ETSU, Key played like her normal self. She scored 16 points in only 17 minutes of action. Key also racked up 7 rebounds, 3 blocks and a steal.

Dye notched her second double-double of the season, finishing the game with 11 points and 11 rebounds. She also had 2 assists and 2 steals.

Puckett continued to get buckets against the Buccaneers. She scored double-digits for the fourth time in the last five games, scoring a career-high 19 points. 

Keyen Green turned in 13 points, Emily Saunders had 8 points and Karoline Striplin tallied her career-high in points with 10. 

Frontcourt: B

Offense 

It was a tale of two games for the offense. 

Against the Cardinal, the Lady Vols shot 20-of-66, 30.3% and 7-of-16 from three. 

The Lady Vols only mustered 26 first half points compared to 43 for Stanford, but they came out firing in the second half. 

The Big Orange started the second half on a 17-0 run, which jump started their comeback.

One of the biggest issues for the offense in this game was the free throw shooting. Tennessee finished the game 16-of-29 from the charity strike, 55.2%. On the other side, Stanford shot 21-for-24.

The offense woke up in a monstrous way in the ETSU game. 

The Lady Vols dropped 112 points - the highest total since 2017 and the highest total in the Kellie Harper era - on 44-for-83 shooting, 53%, and 6-of-20 from three. 

Six players finished the game in double-figures and every player that saw time on the court scored at least two points. 

The Lady Vols dominated the paint, scoring a season-high 70 points. 

Grade: B-

Defense

The defense had stellar performances in both contests. 

Versus the Cardinal, the Lady Vols held Stanford to its lowest shooting percentage all season at 34.9%

Star forward Cameron Brink was held at bay only scoring 4 points before fouling out for the first time all season. 

The Cardinal, however, had plenty of players to pick up the slack left by Brink, as they had five players finish in double-figures.

The defense buckled down in the second half, after allowing 46 first half points, Stanford only scored 31 more, including 9 in the third quarter.

The biggest takeaway from this game though was the Lady Vols getting outrebounded for the first time all season. Stanford outrebounded Tennessee 52-43.

ETSU had its troubles having any success versus this stifling Lady Vols defense. 

The Bucs finished the game with 58 points, on 19-of-62 shooting from the floor, 30.6% and 7-for-31 from three. 

The Lady Vols recovered from loss on the rebound battle against Stanford, to dominate ETSU on the glass. UT outrebounded the Bucs 61-27.

This is the 10 time out of 11 games this season that Tennessee has outrebounded its opponent and the sixth game in which the Lady Vols have grabbed 50+ boards.

The Bucs only had one player in double figures and finished the game with 17 turnovers. 

Grade: B+

Overall and Coaching

The Stanford game was an excellent early season contest to see how the Lady Vols stack up one of the nation’s top teams.

Although Coach Harper and her team did not pick up the win, there is plenty to be happy with but also need for improvement. 

 It looked like early that this Stanford team would run away with it but give credit to the Lady Vols for not giving in and storming back to make it a competitive game. The final score does not indicate how close the game actually was.

The free throw shooting has got to get better. UT missing 13 free ones in not going to cut it come SEC play and tournament play. 

Tamari Key needs to stay out of foul trouble at all costs. Tennessee is a different team without her out there and teams can take advantage of that with ease. If Key is out on the floor, this defense can continue to play at that high level they've played at all season. 

Key’s presence in the second half was a huge factor in the 17-0 run, and the overall defense prowess from Lady Vols.

The ETSU game was never going to be in doubt. The Bucs were the far inferior opponent and it showed on Monday. 

Coach Harper was able to give players much needed minutes who have not seen that much time, and also gave her starters rest heading into the holiday. 

Grade: B

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