Tennessee, playing without Rickea Jackson, had to go to overtime to move to 2-1 on the season with an 84-74 win over Memphis. The Lady Vols were up by ten in the first quarter and seemed in control of the game when Memphis stormed back to tie the game at 17 and take a lead into the half time break. Tennessee came out of the half with the hot hand and took back the lead with 5:37 left in the third but were not able to shut the door on the Tigers who tied it up with the last bucket of regulation to send it to overtime. The Lady Vols, led by Sara Puckett and Jewel Spear, outscored the Tigers 15-5 in the overtime period to put the game away. Here are the key takeaways from the game.
Turnovers: A Tale of Two Halves
The Lady Vols committed 15 turnovers in the first half that resulted in 16 points for the Tigers. Tennessee righted the ship in the second half only coughing up the ball 9 times, but with the guard talent that the Lady Vols have, turnovers cannot continue to be an issue. Against better opposition, 24 turnovers would almost guarantee a loss, but give credit to the Tiger’s scrappy defense for even putting them in the position to make this a game.
Offense Running the Defense
Tennessee started off hot, but quickly cooled off towards the end of the first quarter and let their offense dictate their defense which let Memphis back in the game. This is a very potent offensive team when all the pieces are available, but this won’t be the last time that the team goes cold for a stretch, and they are going to need to rely on their defense to keep them out of trouble.
Puckett Has Career Night
Sara Puckett had a stat stuffing night with a career high 24 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal, and 1 block. The real eye-catching number is that only 6 of her points came from behind the three-point line. She has always been a threat from outside, but her post play has elevated this season and gives the Lady Vols another versatile weapon on the offensive end.
Three Ball is Killer
For the third straight game the three ball was the downfall of Tennessee on both ends of the court. The Tigers ended the first half 6-11 from three compared to 2-9 for the Lady Vols. Spear, Tess Darby, and Puckett will always have the green light to take threes if they are open, but Tennessee must go inside as the first option instead of keeping the ball on the perimeter. They also must clean up their perimeter defense if they want to avoid more large comebacks.
Jackson Day-to-Day with Lower Limb Injury
Rickea Jackson was a game time decision and the lack of time to game-plan for her absence showed. Hopefully will be back and ready to go, especially for the Thanksgiving games next week. Jackson currently leads the team in scoring and rebounding. There is talent to fill in if needed, but Tennessee needs her back sooner than later with a tough stretch of games ahead.
Up next the Lady Vols host Troy on Sunday at 2:00.