February 19, 2012
Oxford, MS (Ox Vegas, MS? Nah, that doesn't sound right)
2:00 PM EST
TV: SECN / ESPN3
Internet Audio: Lady Vols Network
Live Stats: GameTracker
19-7 (10-3 SEC)
12-14 (2-11 SEC)
Just in case the snoozer of a 57-41 victory in Starkville wasn't enough of a potential mismatch, the Lady Vols continue the All-Dregs Tour of the greater Mississippi schools with a visit to scenic Oxford. Incidentally, this is the second visit in a row to the Tad Pad; through a couple of scheduling quirks, Tennessee's second game against the Lady Rebels was in Oxford last year, and this is the only match-up between these two teams.
And yes, that is one of the more interesting points of this game. Otherwise? This game is going to be a massacre. Ole Miss has had a habit of getting run off the court in the first half against average teams before their opponents have pity on them and let off the gas a bit. This bodes well for a team like Tennessee, who needs experience not letting off the gas against overmatched opponents. As much as I'd love to talk up the dangers of facing a conference opponent on the road, there's challenges and then there's this. Case in point: last year's Ole Miss team scored 87 points total against the Lady Vols in two games; the Ladies scored 86 in their home game alone. This isn't going to be much of a contest, but if you want blood, this will work.
Nikki Byrd could also start; she's a 6'4" senior who's give Ole Miss a bit of an edge inside. However, from what I remember she's not terribly mobile; last year Glory Johnson knocked her down, stole her lunch money, took her bike, and snaked her boyfriend. (Metaphorically speaking, mind you.) Incidentally, this is also the second season in a row the Lady Rebels have rolled out an incredibly young lineup against the Lady Vols; last year had 1 junior (Byrd), 2 sophomores, and 2 freshmen. There's an argument to be made on allowing your youngsters some experience against an elite opponent, and then there's lambs to the slaughter. It's left as an exercise to the reader which one this is.
It may not come as a surprise that this Rebel team launches a lot of threes; both McFarland and senior Whitney Hameth - another potential starter (it shouldn't be surprising that the Rebels have spent some time this year searching for their best starting lineup) - both average over 4 threes a game, and Singletary (along with junior Maggie McFerrin) put up over two threes a game. That being said, McFerrin's their best outside threat at 35.5 percent. After that? McFarland is shooting 30.5% from beyond the arc.
At this point, we know the Lady Vol gameplan: shut down on defense (shoudn't be hard), get boards (again, shouldn't be hard), and be effective enough on offense to put the game out of reach early. It's another opportunity for Stricklen to exert control, but I'd put my bets on Glory Johnson having a dominant game - provided Dee Kantner isn't on the whistle. (Yeah, I'm still annoyed.)
Even if the Lady Vols sleepwalk through this game, I'd expect a double-digit victory. With that in mind, let's go to Cleverbot for the score prediction!
User: Hi, Cleverbot!
User: So the Lady Vols play the Ole Miss Lady Rebels tomorrow. What do you think the final score will be? The game's in Oxford.
Cleverbot: Ummm, I thought you were going to tell me your name.
User: No, but I can tell you my favorite color is orange.
Cleverbot: So tell me then.
User: Anyway, what's your score prediction? The internet must know!
Cleverbot: Most of the internet.
So Cleverbot's going with a final score of most of the internet-the rest of the internet. I'm going to go with something more realistic, say 78-46. Bass comes in around the 9-minute mark of the first half.