January 25, 2021

Lady Vols MVP of the week: Mercedes Russell

Despite an 0-2 week, Mercedes Russell still performed at a high level. For that reason, she’s our Lady Vol MVP of the week.

KNOXVILLE, TN - FEBRUARY 12, 2017 - Mercedes Russell #21 of the Tennessee Lady Volunteers during the game between the Texas A&M Aggies and the Tennessee Lady Volunteers at Thompson-Boling Arena in Knoxville, TN. Photo By Donald Page/Tennessee Athletics

The Lady Vols continued their disappointing season with a 0-2 record over the last week. On Sunday, the team suffered a 61-59 loss to Texas A&M after Aggie center Khaalia Hillsman scored on a game-winning putback with just four seconds left. Tennessee followed that dispiriting loss with another disappointment performance, losing 65-57 to an Alabama team that had struggled to a 3-9 SEC record before hosting the Lady Vols.

It’s hard to pick out an MVP for such a bad week, especially with some of the usual stars putting in such disappointing performances. Diamond DeShields followed an eight-point outing on Sunday by scoring nothing against the Crimson Tide, although in fairness, wasn’t unable to play most of the game due to a scary fall. Jaime Nared had nine points and seven rebounds against A&M before scoring four points on 1-of-12 shooting on Thursday night. Schaquilla Nunn isn’t normally a big name, but she had a monster outing against Alabama with 15 points and 15 boards after only playing two minutes against Texas A&M.

Only two players were consistently good in both of the team’s games on the week: Alexa Middleton and Mercedes Russell. Russell was especially good and for that, she earns the MVP of the week.

Against the Aggies, Russell put up 17 points and 11 rebounds, as well as a pair of assists while playing all but two minutes. She kept the team competitive throughout the game, but was unable to bring life an anemic fourth-quarter offense that saw the Lady Vols score only five points in the final frame.

Against Alabama, she was one of the only bright spots. With the two other members of Tennessee’s “big three” either struggling or off the court, Russell was forced to carry the load. The 6-foot-6 center scored 17 on 7-of-12 shooting, but fell just short of her second-straight double-double after grabbing nine rebounds.

If the Lady Vols want to get back to their winning ways, she’ll need her teammates to help her out more consistently.

Edited by David Bradford

Featured image by Donald Page, courtesy of Tennessee Athletics

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Quinn is an assistant sports editor for TNJN and a sophomore majoring in Journalism and Electronic Media at the University of Tennesse. When he's not writing, he's probably doing something else. You can follow him on Twitter (@QuinnNotCook) or e-mail him at qpilkey@vols.utk.edu.