The Lady Vols (15-3, 6-0) have opened up SEC play with an undefeated conference record. That perfect conference record hasn't come easily, though, as the last two road games versus Florida and Auburn both came with their own challenges.
The Lady Vols were forced into overtime in their contest with Florida before winning 78-75. In addition, the Lady Vols trailed Auburn by five points at halftime before pulling out a 75-66 win.
"We've got to start quick, we've got to set a tempo on defense and dictate what we want to do from the tip," said senior guard Taber Spani.
Consistency on defense has been what has prevented the Lady Vols from pulling away in their SEC games. In their overtime victory over Florida, the Lady Vols allowed the Gators to shoot 46 percent from the field during regulation, but limited them to percent shooting in the extra period. Against Auburn, the Lady Vols were outscored 32-20 in the paint and allowed the Tigers to shoot 48 percent in the second half.
"We've started playing some really good defense in second halves of games, you know South Carolina, Georgia were really good defensive spurts for us," said Spani, "We need to just do that for 40 minutes."
Junior guard Meighan Simmons echoed Spani.
"We have to bring bulldog defense," said Simmons. "It's just one of those things that this Pat Summitt foundation was built on is defense and rebounding and I feel like if we do those two little things the game will start out wonderful."
Getting a more a consistent effort on defense was the theme of Tuesday's practice for the Lady Vols.
"We got to work on us and what we need to do," said head coach Holly Warlick. "Our defense has got to get so much better. To me, we're not even close yet, so that's what we're going to focus on today."
Although the team isn't playing up to Warlick's defensive standards, freshman Jasmine Jones has made an impression on the coach.
"I like Jasmine Jones anywhere on defense," said Warlick, "She plays aggressive, she plays hard, she loves to play and I think she plays it with a passion and when you do that it shows and I think it shows she loves to play the game."
One area where the Lady Vols have had much success this season has been on offense. They rank seventh in the nation and first in the SEC in points per game, averaging 79.7 on 44 percent shooting, which ranks 23rd in the nation.
The Lady Vols' offense has benefitted from having multiple scoring options. They have three players averaging double-figures in points and three more players averaging at least eight points.
"We all know that really anybody on our team can score 20 at any given night," said Spani. "That's just the nature of the types of players our program brings in. Offensively, we feel very confident that we can score with anybody."