This is your occasional reminder that Tennessee actually has a bench; you'd be forgiven based on the last two months for forgetting. - USA TODAY Sports
Game on. 4 PM.
The title gave half of the semifinals away, but in case you missed the quarterfinals games of the SEC Women's basketball tournament yesterday, you didn't miss much. Here's, let's do some synopses:
- Tennessee 82, Florida 73: Tennessee jumped out to a quick lead, withstood a Florida run, then stretched the lead a bit and kept Florida at arm's length for most of the second half.
- Texas A&M 61, South Carolina 52. This was close for a little over a half before Texas A&M surged to an 8-point lead and kept South Carolina at arm's length for the rest of the second half.
- Kentucky 76, Vanderbilt 65. Kentucky was up big in this one early and let off the gas a bit, but Vanderbilt never got within arm's length.
- Georgia 71, LSU 53. The best part about LSU's game was Nikki Caldwell's outfit, quite frankly; they never got within two arm lengths of Georgia.
Bonus points if you figure out the theme of the games yesterday based on those descriptions. Of the parts of the games I caught, Florida never really threatened Tennessee and Texas A&M / South Carolina was a battle and a half; I didn't catch much of the evening games, but based on what I saw - in the first half, mind - both those games were over in a hurry.
Here's hoping the semifinals will be better. They should be, to be honest; the top four seeds advanced, which normally portends better quality of play; the last time Tennessee battled Texas A&M, they turned in the game of the season and sealed the regular season crown. Oh, and Georgia dealt Kentucky their only loss at home of the season. Today should be good.
You want some more detail about yesterday? Fine. The game was a little uneven, but the scoring was balanced (everyone who got in the game save Jasmine Jones hit at least double digits, led by my favorite line of the season so far: Bashaara Graves scoring 10 points on 3 shots), rebounding was pretty well distributed (8, 7, 6, 4, 3, 3, 1 (Jones) isn't bad when those first three are forwards and those last three are guards), and the shooting was solid enough (Kamiko Williams' 12 on 5-12 and Ariel Massengale's 10 on 2-7 were lackluster, but Massengale got to the line in force, going 6-6 there). A/TO wasn't great at 10/12. Simmons went for 20 on 12, which is absurd for her (4-5 from beyond the arc helped); Tennessee did a great job as a team getting to the line, with everyone shooting FTs and four players - Graves, Massengale, Simmons, and Taber Spani - shooting at least 5 FTs. That needs to continue.
The keys for beating Texas A&M haven't changed for the Lady Vols; the biggest factor today is that Isabelle Harrison won't suit up. Kelsey Bone will work on a knee that isn't 100%, but most importantly Tennessee is running a seven-deep lineup. I'd love to say this game needs to be put out of sight early, but I don't think that's going to happen. Kristi Bellock has been on an absolute tear for the Aggies (Lady Aggies? Aggettes?) and Courtney Walker will do damage from the outside. Look for Spani to spend more time inside and Jasmine Jones to get more than a token runout; she needs minutes today. Graves needs to be more involved today than she was yesterday; she did a solid defensive job on Jennifer George but was kept quiet offensively. Last time against TAMU, she went for 14/7 on 6-11 shooting; that's much closer to the line we need from her.
And yes, I have no clue if Simmons' shooting will hold across multiple games, but the same "if Simmons actually goes off, this is over" rule applies. Y'all know that, though. No prediction, at least not for today and at least not for now.
In the evening game, I feel pretty confident saying we want Georgia (who Tennessee is something like 27-1 against in their last 28 - it's not quite that bad, but it's close) instead of Kentucky, who you don't want to face with a short bench on your third game in three days. Regardless, a win today should lock up a 2 seed, and at the very worst should kill the chances of getting in that awkward Duke #2 seed regional.
This game is on - I think - CSS, but is also on ESPN3. Mickey will be doing his thing over here, and ESPN is probably your best Gamecast option, but y'all will have to find it on your own, unfortunately.
One programming note: the men will play at the same time as the ladies, so - I think - we're consolidating. Keep your eyes open.