Gametracker: miss you, ability to see stats by half
Audio: Mickey's drawing hearts around Middleton's name on the stat sheet
Video: only available online, contain your shock
When we left the Lady Vols, they were busy running Penn out of TBA. Next up: Oral Roberts, who we've seen before, but it's been a couple years since the 82-63 win to open the 2012-2013 NCAA Tournament. Is Oral Roberts a tough opponent? Well, their RPI last year was 282 and Baylor didn't back out of a game they had scheduled with them, so both of those should answer your question.
ORU, like a lot of mid-major types, struggles with height. They don't shoot particularly well and will be dealing with a huge talent deficit, playing on the road again. Yes, there's a chance this game goes sideways, but it's not a huge one.
Meanwhile, the questions for the Lady Vols center around depth. Isabelle Harrison left the game after her knee got rolled up on, but unless she's 100%, she shouldn't play tomorrow. Jasmine Jones is probably questionable after taking a knock to the head, and concussions are not to be trifled with. On the other hand, Ariel Massengale and Andraya Carter are both back, so the already-surprising guard depth gets even more of a boost.
Let's head to the bullet points:
- ALL HAIL NEW MICKEY DEARSTONE CRUSH ALEXA MIDDLETON. I mean, 20 points and 11 assists to open your college career is pretty good, and Middleton didn't look lost on offense in the slightest. Her defense: work in progress, but you knew that already. With the return of Massengale and Carter, expect Middleton's minutes to go down unless Tennessee goes ultra-small to see what it feels like. She's in front among the freshmen crop, with Kortney Dunbar and Jamie Nared still adjusting to the college game.
- WHO TURNED NIA MOORE INTO A CYLON? I will literally be the last person who complains if Moore keeps throwing up 24/14/ lines with blocks and dishes to burn, but this is huge for Moore, who's struggled to get PT once conference play starts. She should be fine against an ORU squad that lacks size, but it's worth watching how her game changes with more minutes. She's the least physical post Tennessee has and it's not particularly close-24 points on 1 FTA is just a strange line. I'd like for her to be more comfortable pursuing and absorbing contact, but for now getting that confidence is critical.
- GRAVES AND THE DEFENSIVE GLASS. Bashaara Graves has always had a nose for offensive boards; however, only 2 defensive boards against Penn is strange. That needs to improve going forward.
- OTHER SMALL THINGS TO WATCH: Massengale and Carter integrating with a bunch of new pieces, four-guard lineups with Graves or Moore, shot distribution, health. We're still staring at the ingredients of the team; nobody knows what the final picture will look like yet. Not that this will matter tonight.
PREDICTION: 102-59 Tennessee. Yeah, bring it on, Mulkey.