Lady Vols Avenge One Loss and Defeat Florida 71-67

Just when you think these Ladies have turned the corner, they find new ways to make you nervous all over again.  This was a story of two completely different halves.

Lady Vols Logo

First Half

The Lady Vols came out strong and played strong for the entire first half - a blissful change from most of the regular season.  Despite 9 turnovers (most unforced), the Lady Vols played tenacious defense and used their height to absolutely own the rebounds.  By the halftime whistle, the Lady Vols found themselves leading Florida 38-21.  (The 21-points was the fewest allowed in one half by UT all year.)  Angie Bjorklund had found her stroke from downtown.  Kelley Cain was quiet offensively, but she and Glory Johnson played robber off the glass and gave Florida very few second chances.  Shooting better than 50% from the floor, UT seemed composed and in control from the opening gun for the full 20 minutes.

And just when we thought we could relax...

Second Half

After a quick score, the Lady Vols went absolutely silent on offense, allowing Florida to cut the 17-point lead down to 7 within about 5 minutes.  Further, the foul advantage that UT had built went away, and Florida entered the 1-and-1 situation with nearly 12 minutes left in the half.

But most frustrating were the unforced turnovers.  In the first half, they had 9 turnovers total.  After 8 minutes of play in the second half, they matched that total.  The 23 total turnovers was one of their worst marks all year.  Seven were by Stricklen, who cannot be pleased with her performance tonight.

Diagnosis?

Trying too hard, methinks.  Many of the turnovers were caused by Florida's press.  The one advantage a shorter team often has is their speed, and Florida used it effectively.  Whenever UT tried long passes to break the press, Florida jumped into the passing lanes and snarfed up the ball.  Fortunately, UT has a press-breaker in Brianna Bass.  In a game of our-shorty-is-shorter-than-your-shorty, Bass is quick enough and nimble enough to simply dribble through a press and avoid the passes.  That gave just enough broken presses to allow UT to hold on.  But you have to be nervous about the press; Florida showed that you can use it very effectively against the Lady Vols, and future teams will pick up on that.

Otherwise, you really had the sense that the Lady Vols are trying too hard on offense.  Many of the turnovers were made on high-risk passes that weren't absolutely necessary.  It's almost as if the Lady Vols think they have to play with as much dazzle as some of the more legendary teams of the past.  Unfortunately for them, they don't yet have the advantage of 4 years of practice together to get their timing down like last year's Vols did.  In a game like this, where the Ladies were clearly taller and more athletic, they could have been more relaxed about the passes and stuck with simpler plays.

Kudos to:

  • Angie Bjorklund.  After an 0-fer outing against Alabama, she lit up the board for 24 points and player of the game.  Oh, and she played all 40 minutes of the game.
  • Glory Johnson.  Eight rebounds and eight points made for a great game for her.
  • Kelley Cain.  Underutilized in the first half, Cain had eight rebounds and only one personal foul.  She's getting really good at keeping her foul count down.
  • Brianna Bass.  You'll never see it on a stat sheet, but she defended Brooks brilliantly.  Despite Sha's 22 points, she struggled when defended by Bass, who was quick enough to continually cut off the dribbling lanes.  That slowed down the comeback enough to hang on and win.

But hey, a tournament win is a tournament win.  Now the Lady Vols play top-ranked Auburn at 6:30 PM Eastern on Saturday.  Be ready for it: same Vol-time, same Vol-channel.

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior users will need to choose a permanent username, along with a new password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

I already have a Vox Media account!

Verify Vox Media account

Please login to your Vox Media account. This account will be linked to your previously existing Eater account.

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior MT authors will need to choose a new username and password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join Rocky Top Talk

You must be a member of Rocky Top Talk to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Rocky Top Talk. You should read them.

Join Rocky Top Talk

You must be a member of Rocky Top Talk to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Rocky Top Talk. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.

tracking_pixel_9347_tracker