Vanderbilt (6-17, 2-7 SEC) looks to prevent its ninth straight loss to Tennessee in Nashville at 2 p.m. ET on Sunday. The Commodores have lost three of their last five games, including home losses to South Carolina and Texas A&M by a combined 35 points.
In the last matchup between the two teams, the then undefeated seventh-ranked Lady Vols beat Vanderbilt 86-73 in Thompson-Boling Arena. Tennessee was led by dynamic center Mercedes Russell, who logged a career-high 33 points and eight rebounds in the win. The Lady Vols win marked the 33rd straight time that Tennessee beat the Commodores in Knoxville.
Cheridene Green and Jaime Nared also combined for 32 points and 10 rebounds in the Jan. 7 win. The Volunteers also forced 21 Vanderbilt turnovers and out-rebounded them by a 42-28 margin.
Vanderbilt is coming into Sunday’s contest on a bit of a high-note. The Commodores recorded just their second conference win over Ole Miss by a score of 75-72 in Oxford on Thursday. Vanderbilt shot lights-out with a 50 percent average from the floor and shooting 40 percent from 3-point range. It also forced 18 Rebel turnovers and forced them to shoot just 41 percent on the night.
The Commodores registered four players with double-digit points in the win in the Magnolia State. Vanderbilt was led by guard Christa Reed, who totaled 20 points, and the duo of Cierra Walker and Kayla Overbeck, who had 13 points apiece. More impressively, the Commodores held Ole Miss star guard Madinah Muhammad to just eight points on 2-of-12 shooting. However, Alissa Alston still lit up the black-and-gold with 28 points and three rebounds.
Twelfth-ranked Tennessee recorded a bounce-back win over Texas A&M on Thursday after previously losing to them earlier in the season 76-73 in College Station. The Lady Vols responded by beating the No. 14 ranked Aggies 82-67 after losing a rough battle with LSU in the previous game.
“What makes this win a good win for us is how much doubt has come from the losses and everyone questioning us, and how much different things have been when we’ve lost games,” said Nared.
Head coach Holly Warlick and Tennessee outscored Texas A&M 25-8 in the fourth quarter and piggybacked Nared’s 23 points in the win. Russell logged yet another double-double of 18 points and 13 rebounds as Meme Jackson and Anastasia Hayes combined for 26 points and seven rebounds. The only low-note of the win was freshman Evina Westbrook’s four points on 1-of-10 shooting on the night.
“Just the fact (is) we’ve stuck together and we’re still working,” Nared said. “Despite what anybody says or has to say about us, we know who we are. We’re going to keep fighting and keep getting better.”
Regardless, the Lady Vols forced the Aggies to commit 19 turnovers, meanwhile Tennessee turned the ball over just 13 times.
If Tennessee can manage to take care of the basketball against Vanderbilt on Sunday, it should cruise to a win. Russell and Nared are complete mismatches for the Commodores in the paint, so expect strong performances from the pair of seniors. Still, the Volunteers have shown their inconsistency this season, so anything is possible.
Edited by Ben McKee
Featured image courtesy of Tennessee Athletics