On Sunday afternoon, the Lady Vols wrapped up their offseason with a 108-63 win over Carson-Newman in an exhibition match. Their regular-season opener is slated for Nov. 8 in Columbus against Ohio State.
Here are three things that stood out from the matchup:
Tennessee has some serious shooters
Last season, the Lady Vols ranked 12th in the SEC in 3-point percentage at just 30.4%. However, it appears this year’s offense may feature a much more effective attack from deep.
The team shot 12-for-28 on 3-pointers for a 42.9 3-point percentage.
“Well, the 28 attempts, that’s a lot, but when you are shooting at 42 percent, you’re allowed,” said Tennessee coach Kellie Harper. “We’ve been shooting it well in practice. I think for the most part, we took good threes. I think we are aggressive. Our players are confident. Not just confident in their ability, but they are very confident in their teammates. I think if we can go rebound the ball the way we need to rebound, then we will have a lot of big green lights out there.”
The hottest shooter was Sara Puckett who connected on three of her five attempts. Last season, she shot 29.9% on 3-pointers. Puckett finished the night with 15 points.
Right behind her was freshman Justine Pissott. She made 3-of-6 attempts while showing she can make an immediate offensive impact. She totaled nine points in the contest.
Minnesota transfer Jasmine Powell hit on multiple 3-pointers, as well. Her 2-for-3 shooting helped push her point total to nine.
Jordan Horston, Edie Darby, Tess Darby and Marta Suarez all also converted on 3-point attempts.
The 12 made deep shots top any mark the Lady Vols recorded in all of last season.
Horston and Jackson are an elite duo
In the 2019 recruiting cycle, Horston and Rickea Jackson were ranked as the second and fifth-best recruits in the country, respectively, by ESPN. Horston would commit to Tennessee while Jackson took her talents to Mississippi State.
However, in their senior campaigns, the pair have united on the Lady Vols to create one of the best duos in basketball.
Horston was named to the Preseason All-SEC First Team with Jackson getting a nod for the Second Team.
In the exhibition, they showcased their ability to take over games. Horston finished the night with a game-high 17 points on efficient 8-for-13 shooting through just 12 minutes of play. She also pitched in four rebounds, three assists and two steals for a +/- of +31.
In 17 minutes on the floor, Jackson had an impressive night, as well. She totaled 14 points on 5-for-9 shooting while claiming three assists, a rebound and two steals for a +/- of +32.
“Those two players can go make plays,” said Harper on Horston and Jackson. “I think what you saw early on we were able to get them the ball and they can find opportunities. The great thing about both of those two, you can get them the ball on the open court. They can make a play. They can get a board. They can execute in a half court set and find some opportunities. They are dynamic, explosive, fun to play with, fun to watch and fun to coach.”
This team is DEEP
Perhaps the Lady Vols’ greatest feature is their depth. All 15 active players on the roster touched the floor in the exhibition with 14 of them scoring. The collection of tenured Tennessee players, transfers and freshmen meshed together seamlessly in the routing.
Outside of the starters, Puckett and Suarez stepped up in a big way off the bench. Piggybacking off a successful freshman year, Puckett scored 15 points on 6-for-9 shooting. She also added three rebounds.
Suarez has been plagued with injuries in her career forcing her to miss a chunk of her freshman year and her entire sophomore season. However, this year, she’s off to a hot start scoring 14 points on 5-for-7 shooting. She recorded three rebounds and an assist, as well.
With options at every position for the Lady Vols, different players will step up throughout the season. It also gives insurance for Tennessee in the case of unfortunate but inevitable injuries.
“Well, our depth is our strength, we know that,” said Harper. “Game to game I don’t know what that is going to look like. Going into this game, the minutes were scripted out. I knew how many minutes we were going to play each player. I think the only deviation we had was Jordan Horston. I had her down for a few more minutes but she was pretty productive with 12 so we stopped there. It got a little choppy at times in terms of our substitutions and who we were playing with, but we wanted to make sure everybody was getting a certain number of minutes so the next time out, they feel comfortable. Each game it may be somebody different step up. It won’t be predetermined moving forward.”
Ryan Sylvia is the Sports Editor at TNJN. He is a senior at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville majoring in journalism and electronic media. Although he spent most of his life being raised outside of Philadelphia, he was born in Knoxville, and he is happy to be back home. Ryan has had a love for sports from an early age, and he found his love for writing in high school while taking journalism classes. He hopes to find a job involving both his passions as a sports journalist after graduation. To reach Ryan, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org