Turner leads Tennessee past Georgia Tech

Lamonte Turner scored 24 points – tying a career-high – to lift Tennessee (6-1) over Georgia Tech 77-70 on Sunday night.

Tennessee went to the free-throw line 19 time in the last three minutes of regulation, and Turner was responsible for making seven of them. “Lamonte’s experience was huge, I thought he had really great command of himself and what we needed to get done,” said Tennessee head coach Rick Barnes.

Grant Williams and Admiral Schofield also combined for 21 points and 11 rebounds in the Vols first true road win of the season. Guard Jordan Bowden was the only other double-digit scorer for the Vols on Sunday with 10 points and three rebounds.

The Yellow Jackets were down just six points at half and kept it interesting with a 7-2 run in the last three minutes, which cut it to a one-point game. Georgia Tech center Ben Lammers led the team with 17 points and nine rebounds, while three other Yellow Jackets players registered double-figures.

“We just couldn’t get over the hump,” said Georgia Tech head coach Josh Pastner. “The hardest thing to coach is when you can’t score.”

The Yellow Jackets were without sophomore guard Josh Okogie, who has missed every game this season. Okogie averaged over 16 points per game and five rebounds per game in his freshman season in Atlanta.

A 10-point run extended Tennessee’s lead to 69-58 with just under a minute left to play, as the Vols snuck past Georgia Tech. The free throw percentages from both teams told the tale of the game. Tennessee made over 85-percent of their free throws, while the Yellow Jackets made just 67-percent of their attempts.

The Vols seven-point victory over Georgia tech boosted them to 6-1, which is the best start for the Tennessee basketball program since 2010. The Vols win over the Yellow Jackets also marks their third win over ACC teams this season, after beating Clemson, NC State and Georgia Tech to start off the 2017 season.

“It’s early still. We’ve played some quality teams. We’ve got a long way to go,” Barnes said.”Our guys have worked hard. They deserve to have some things happen.”

The Vols will now have a three-game home stand, which includes games against Lipscomb on Dec. 9, North Carolina on Dec. 17 and Furman on Dec. 20.

Edited by Ben McKee

Featured image courtesy of UT Sports 

Video: Holly Warlick previews matchup with James Madison

Tennessee head coach Holly Warlick previewed the Lady Vols matchup with the James Madison Bulldogs on Wednesday at 7 p.m. ET at Thompson-Boling Arena.

Warlick started off by saying how nice it was not to gameplay for former James Madison legend Precious Hall, who graduated last season. Hall holds the Bulldogs record for points in a season and points in program history. “She was a great scorer, great leader, they’ve adjusted well though, they have some kids that are stepping up,” said Warlick.

James Madison has a variety of different looks on the court, including a mix of zone, man and press according to Warlick. Warlick said she was happy with the starting lineup that she has currently, which features the freshman backcourt duo of Evina Westbrook and Rennia Davis. Meme Jackson, Jaime Nared and Mercedes Russell headline the frontcourt to round out the lineup.

“They play well together, I feel like they’re seasoned,” said Warlick, but the current lineup is not set in stone and will vary as the season progresses according to her. Warlick says that the highly touted freshmen on the team are still learning and need to limit their turnovers, but that she’s still been happy with their production. Warlick says she is okay with the turnovers caused while attacking the basket, but that they have to cut their turnovers overall. Warlick finished by stating that the health of the Lady Vols was great, but they “just need to clean up some things”.

Watch Warlick’s full media availability below:

Featured image courtesy of Seth Raborn

Edited by Ben McKee 

No. 14 Lady Vols cruise by ETSU in season-opener

No. 14 Tennessee won its season home-opener against the ETSU Buccaneers on Sunday afternoon inside Thompson Boling-Arena, 87-49. The Lady Vols’ dominance was in full display throughout the game.

The win marks head coach Holly Warlick’s fifth-straight season opening win after losing to UT-Chattanooga in 2012 in her head coaching debut.

Both teams struggled to settle into the game early in the first quarter. One of the first few points in the game came when ETSU’s Britney Snowden hit a three-pointer to put her team up 6-5. Freshman Evina Westbrook would then score to put Tennessee up 7-6. After the Westbrook basket, the Buccaneers were unable to regain another lead for the remainder of the game. At the end of the first quarter, the Lady Vols led 19-6.

Tennessee started to settle in more comfortably, building a 37-16 lead heading into intermission. The Lady Vols defense limited the Buccaneers offense to only 10 points in the second quarter.

ETSU could not keep up as the Lady Vols continued to dominate the last two quarters, leading by as many as 43 points. The Buccaneers were able to cut the Lady Vols’ 43-point lead by scoring five more consolation points, as the game finished with a score of 87-49.

The highly-regarded freshmen class comprised of Westbrook, Rennia Davis, Anastasia Hayes, and Kasiyahna Kushkituah combined for 33 of Tennessee’s 87 points in their first regular season college basketball game. Hayes led the freshmen in scoring with 17 points.

Despite all the talk surrounding the new faces of the Lady Vols program, it was the veteran and senior leaders Mercedes Russell and Jaime Nared that led the way with double-doubles in the win. Russell finished with a team-high 20 points and was 8-for-10 shooting from the field. In addition, Russell and Nared finished with 13 rebounds a piece, and Russell logged 13 points.

The Lady Vols will continue their regular season with another home game on Wednesday, Nov. 3. They are set to take on James Madison inside Thompson-Boling Arena. The game will air at 7 p.m. ET on SECN+ and WatchESPN.

Featured image courtesy of UT Sports 

Edited by Seth Raborn

Lady Vols basketball preview

Head coach Holly Warlick is entering her sixth season at the helm of the Lady Vols basketball program. Warlick, posting a .736 winning percentage in her time in Knoxville, has faced a steady decline in the past two seasons.

To get back on track, Warlick will rely heavily on her freshman class, which was ranked No. 1 in the 2017 cycle. The Lady Vols are slated finished fourth in the SEC this season, as many experts aren’t sold on Warlick and her team heading into the 2017-18 season.

Last year, Tennessee fell in the second round of the NCAA tournament after reaching the Sweet Sixteen in the previous four seasons. Warlick has three Elite Eight appearances since her time in Knoxville.

Strengths

The obvious answer to this will be the incoming freshman, who put on a show in the exhibition outing versus Carson-Newman. However, I am going to go with the experience this team has.

Meme Jackson played in all 32 games last year for the Lady Vols, and although she isn’t a stat-sheet stuffer, she has grit and experience. Jackson will be an important asset to the team once it makes the NCAA tournament, and makes a push for another Elite Eight appearance. The amount of minutes Jackson has logged in the past will prove vital in postseason play.

With the departure of Diamond DeShields, Mercedes Russell took the reigns of the Lady Vols. Russell is the most important piece to this basketball team, and her experience and strength down low will allow Tennessee to play inside out this season and play to its strengths.

Russell, a 6-foot-6 Redshirt Senior out of Oregon, started every game she played in last season and posted All-SEC numbers. Averaging 16.1 points-per-game and nearly 10 rebounds, Russell will be a juggernaut to stop for opposing defenses this season.

Weaknesses 

Talent wise, there are no weaknesses on this roster. Unfortunately, the Lady Vols only played eight players in its opening game. Depth could be an issue for this Tennessee team.

Half of the eight players that played in the exhibition game were freshman, so that is not the best sign for Tennessee.

Players to watch

Keep your eye on Evina Westbrook. Posting 17 points in her first exhibition game as a Lady Vol, Westbrook will not look back this season as she must help lead this team to a deep NCAA tournament run.

Westbrook was the No. 2 overall player in the 2017 class, and she helped proved the hype is real with this freshman class. The freshmen combined for 76 of the 121 total points scored by the Lady Vols against Carson-Newman, which matched the Lady Eagles’ points total.

Westbrook was the most coveted freshman player of the Warlick’s recruiting class, but Rennia Davis could be the big-time player Tennessee has been waiting for to play on the wing. The 6-foot-2 guard/forward out of Florida is a scoring machine.Davis averaged just over 26 points-per-game as a senior in high school, and didn’t look back after posting 27 points in the opening exhibition game against Carson-Newman.

All of the freshmen will be compelling, but Davis should be the highlight reel all season long. The way Tennessee will play through Russell down in the post should open up a lot of perimeter shots for players like Davis and Westbrook.

Matchups to watch

This is a loaded schedule for the Lady Vols. With matchups against Texas, Stanford, Kentucky, Notre Dame and defending National Champion South Carolina, Tennessee will have their work set out for them this season.

The Cancun Challenge at the Hard Rock Hotel Maya Convention Center should be interesting. The Lady Vols will have a three-day stretch of vital games early on in the season. The team will face Marquette, Oklahoma State and South Dakota in consecutive games in late November. The team will learn a lot about itself in this tournament.

Prediction

The Lady Vols should finish in the top-3 of the conference this season. This team, although young, has pure talent and grit. Warlick will finally get over the hump and take Tennessee back to the Elite Eight and have a chance to move further. The Lady Vols will finish the season third in the SEC, and will be a force to be reckoned with the next couple years as they grow, mature, and make a run at another National Championship. Tennessee hosts ETSU for the regular-season opener at 2 p.m. Sunday.

Featured image courtesy of UT Sports

Edited by Seth Raborn