June 20, 2024

Lady Vols to face Kentucky, look to stay perfect in SEC play

Coming off of a strong win against Ole Miss Thursday night, the Lady Vols are looking to extend their winning streak over SEC opponents to 19 wins on Sunday as they take on the Kentucky Wildcats at Thompson-Boling Arena.

Coming off of a strong win against Ole Miss Thursday night, the Lady Vols are looking to extend their winning streak over SEC opponents to 19 wins on Sunday as they take on the Kentucky Wildcats at Thompson-Boling Arena.

The last time these two met was on January 29th in Memorial Coliseum in a close game with the Lady Vols prevailing, 73-72. Isabelle Harrison and Cierra Burdick both had stellar performances that night, scoring 19 and 16 points respectively. On the Kentucky side of the ball, Makayla Epps was the leader that night scoring 23 points.

The Wildcats (19-5, 8-3 SEC) are coming into this game with a chip on their shoulder after beating Mississippi State in double overtime Thursday night, 92-90. Sophomore guard Makayla Epps who averages around 15 points per game put up 42 that night, which is something SEC women’s basketball hasn’t seen in a conference game within the past five years.

The Lady Vols (21-3, 11-0 SEC) are also coming into this game with a lot of momentum. After beating Ole Miss Thursday night in Oxford, 69-49, the Lady Vols are looking to remain undefeated in conference play as the season begins to dwindle down, and eyes start to look toward SEC Tournament play. Harrison ended the night with yet another impressive performance of 21 points, 14 rebounds, one assist and two blocks.

It’s no surprise that Kentucky coach Matthew Mitchell has been relying on Epps to be the playmaker as of late since she has found a way to make almost every one of her shots successful. Out of the returning members that Mitchell has on the team, one of the most influential players he looks at on the bench is Jennifer O’Neill, who is a quick, vocal leader for the team and knows how to recover the ball. While she averages almost 11 points per game, her small 5’6” stature doesn’t stop her from making splashes on the defensive side of the ball either, recording 54 defensive rebounds just this season.

We could expect to see a key size matchup between Kentucky’s Azia Bishop, the 6’3” senior forward/center and Isabelle Harrison, the 6’3” Senior center for the Lady Vols. For Kentucky, this matchup would be just as noted – a size matchup. Bishop isn’t one of the strongest shooters on the UK squad, averaging five points per game, but she can rebound like no other, racking up 132 total rebounds so far this season, while also recording 38 blocks and 27 steals to add to her defensive resume. For Harrison, this matchup could be a piece of cake. Averaging 13 points per game, once she gets hot, you can’t stop her.

For the Lady Vols, the key to the game will be to stop Epps wherever and whenever possible. Just like Harrison, once Epps gets hot on shooting, especially from the perimeter, it’s tough to stop her.

If you can’t make it to Thompson-Boling on Sunday for the game, you can catch it on ESPN2. Tipoff is set for 3 p.m.

Edited by Maggie Jones

Danielle is a senior studying Journalism and Electronic Media. Before coming to UT, she was a student intern for 106.3 ESPN Radio where she assisted in the broadcasts and productions of Pigeon Forge High School football and basketball. She is also a former sports correspondent for The Mountain Press and worked as a promotions assistant for the Tennessee Smokies. If she's not busy with the Triple Play podcast or writing sports stories, you'll most likely find her at St. John XXIII Catholic Center on campus or watching sports somewhere while she sips on an Arnold Palmer. Follow her on Twitter: @Dani_Marie_15