KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee has surveyed its first major test of the season Sunday.
The Lady Vols led wire-to-wire on the way to defeat No. 2 Texas 82-75. The game showed just how dangerous the team can be this season.
The game never got out of hand, typically staying between three to five points. Tennessee (10-0) kept its cool and executed in the biggest moments.
The Lady Vols led by only a point heading with a minute of game time left. Anastasia Hayes would get to the line on a drive to the basket and make one free throw. Jaime Nared would collect the miss and draw a foul herself. The senior sank both free throws to give Tennessee the 77-73 lead which iced the game.
Here are three things to know about the victory.
Tennessee has beat up on a weaker schedule this season. The Lady Vols have had four players averaging double-digit scoring which has made them difficult to stop.
The step up in competition didn’t change matters much at all. Tennessee had three players break into double-digits. Nared led all scorers with 23 points, while Mercedes Russell and Evina Westbrook both chipped in with 15.
Advantage in low post
The rebounding differential didn’t tell the whole story. Tennessee out-rebounded Texas 50-48. The Lady Vols’ advantage in the low post was more pronounced, though.
Russell grabbed 13 rebounds and scored 11 of her 15 points at the free throw line. There weren’t many plays drawn up for, but she had her presence known none the less.
In the fourth quarter, in particular, showed Tennessee’s strength down low. The Lady Vols made 16-of-24 free throws in the final quarter.
The fouls started to mount for Texas. The Longhorns had three players foul out in the fourth quarter. Texas finished with 29 fouls; Tennessee had 16.
“We knew Texas was going to be a tough team from the film we watched,” Nared said after the game. “But we are tough too. We showed we were gritty tonight.”
Tennessee stayed out of foul trouble which helped the team hold the lead late in the game.
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