Photo by Riley Haltom (@rileyhaltom on X)
By Matthew Silitsky
KNOXVILLE, Tenn – Tennessee (14-7, 7-2) took down Missouri (11-11, 2-7) 80-69 in a well-contested game at the Food City Center on Sunday.
The orange and white seem to be getting on track after a rough start to the season.
In the first quarter, a lack of effort in the gaps led to multiple drives and scores by the Tigers. A few loose ball battles resulting in bodies on the floor sparked the Lady Vol defense instantly.
All of a sudden, Tennessee was playing with a different energy. The pace was quicker than that of UT students racing to a free t-shirt giveaway.
Any daylight at all, the Lady Vols took advantage. A shootout in the first quarter had Tennessee racking up six threes on ten attempts.
“We knew they’d pack it in, so we knew we would have the three more.” said Lady Vols forward Sara Puckett.
Rickea Jackson had as good a half as one could deliver. Jackson scored 19 points on eight of ten shooting with four rebounds, three of them being on the offensive glass, and superb individual defense.
With her last point of the first half, Jackson clinched 2,000 career points.
The Lady Vols went into the half leading 46-34.
To start the third quarter, a lack of urgency was visible. For most of the quarter, open looks were a high commodity. Defensively, the first half energy was not there, allowing the Tigers to cut their deficit to three.
After a timeout by coach Kellie Harper, the Lady Vols immediately responded with a big three from Puckett, followed by a bucket and foul by Jasmine Powell. After that, it was all orange skies.
The fourth quarter was right back to business as usual. Energy, effort, and urgency was the name of the game.
An all-around strong game from the Lady Vols, getting contributions from a variety of producers. Along with Jackson’s 19 and Puckett’s 15, Jewel Spear gave the Lady Vols 22.
“There is so much talent on this team and yet they continue to be so unselfish in the way they play.” said Tigers head coach Robin Pingeton. “You have to pick and choose where you want to take some chances and create some opportunities on the defensive end.”
The next matchup for the Lady Vols is Thursday at Alabama (17-6, 4-4) at Coleman Coliseum. Tipoff is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. ET and the game will air on SEC Network.