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Lady Vols vs. Vandy, 7 PM Eastern

The Lady Vols host the first of two games against Vanderbilt this season.

We have an actual picture from the most recent game!
We have an actual picture from the most recent game!
Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports


Radio: I'm sure he'll be in a good mood.

Stats: What will improve first, UT's offense or the gametracker?

At some point, there really isn't much left to write.  The team is a known quantity: solid defense, good free throw rates, a devastating interior game (that often can't get the ball or is always double/triple teamed), a nearly absent three-point game, and a seeming lack of offensive continuity.  It's also clear at this point that they'll struggle to consistently beat zone defenses all year long; the first real zone win was against Auburn, but Arkansas promptly adapted to the things that worked and beat Tennessee with a different zone defense.  (Translated: the Auburn win came from a patch applied to the offense, not an actual change in offensive capacity.)

On the other side of the court is a Vanderbilt team whose schedule really hasn't given much of a test.  Losses to Green Bay, Dayton, and South Carolina are understandable, and the Ole Miss one is likely more of the usual in-conference head scratchers that so many SEC teams are prone to giving up (/cough).  As usual, they shoot threes well, so there likely will never be a time in this game where it feels like Tennessee has things under control (even after the inevitable 10-point first quarter lead).  They're still a halfcourt team, so the pace of this one will be somewhere between molasses and honey.  And as is tradition under Balcomb, they're balanced between offense and defense.  They also likely know at least three different types of zone to play against Tennessee.

Still, it's a home game and Tennessee is due for one of their "good offense" nights.  The talent is there, and only one or two things would have to turn around for the offense to become decent (e.g. 30% 3-point shooting, or perhaps more than 8 shots combined between Russell and Graves).  There's also the matter of pride in not losing to the in-state conference rival, so perhaps they have a greater sense of urgency before the last couple minutes of the game.  Either way, this game will likely go as most UT/Vandy women's basketball games go - better team cohesion by Vandy, better talent by Tennessee, frustration all the way around, and a Lady Vols team out-depthing their opponent to a win.

Prediction: 67-57 Tennessee.