No. 10 ranked Tennessee (17-3, 5-2 SEC) proved to be too much for Ole Miss (11-10, 1-6 SEC), despite a combined 50 points from guards Alissa Alston and Madinah Muhammad. The Lady Vols logged a 75-66 win over the Rebels in Thompson-Boling Arena behind Rennia Davis, who led the team with 18 points on the night.
Here are the takeaways from Tennessee’s win.
Tennessee limits turnovers.
At some point you would think it would get old bringing up turnovers and the Lady Vols in the same sentence. However, this time, it is for a good reason. Head coach Holly Warlick and Tennessee have been inconsistent all season when it comes to turnovers, including two games with 28 turnovers this season. The Lady Vols have proven if they can take care of the ball, they are a tough team to beat.
Tennessee showed just that on Thursday night, as the team coughed up the ball just 15 times. The Lady Vol freshmen only turned the ball over 7 times, while Mercedes Russell and Jaime Nared combined for seven turnovers of their own. Either way, it was a step in the right direction for Tennessee. Now let’s see if they can keep it up.
Lady Vols got help from new faces.
While Nared continues to face a small shooting slump, Tennessee received big contributions from a pair of players to make up for it. Davis tied a career-high and led the team on the night with 18 points, while Anastasia Hayes scored 16 points off the bench. Hayes has now scored double-digit points in two of the last four games for the Lady Vols.
“I thought she played her best game. She’s an offensive threat when she wants to be. She’s in the gym quite a bite. She hasn’t even scratched the surface,” said Warlick about Davis.
With Russell and Nared combining for just 10-of-22 shooting from the field, Hayes and Davis were key players for Tennessee in the win. If the Lady Vols could see this production out of those two when Nared and Russell have the hot hand, they will be a pain for opposing teams to play.
Tennessee has the ability to make a deep run
The Lady Vols have been inconsistent at times this season, but they have shown they can put away teams in late-game situations. Ole Miss tied Tennessee on a lay-up from Alston at the 2:36 mark, but the Lady Vols sparked a 14-2 run to finish them off.
While Tennessee may struggle at times with teams it should easily beat, they still have proven that it is great in the second half. The Lady Vols still have a long way to go if they want to make a run in the NCAA Tournament. However, they are showing early signs that they have the toughness to finish games out and pull away late in games.
“All credit to Tennessee. They’ve got a really good team and they play really hard together,” said Rebels head coach Mat Insell.
Edited by Ben McKee
Featured image courtesy of Tennessee Athletics