Tennessee has officially completed two-thirds of its schedule thus far.
As the Lady Vols come down the stretch, four of their last nine games are against current top 25 conference opponents.
But first, Tennessee (16-4, 6-1 SEC) must make a trip up the interstate to Nashville for a date with Vanderbilt (12-8, 2-5 SEC), in a matchup of two teams trending in the opposite direction.
While Vanderbilt has lost four of its last five matchups, Tennessee has been on the winning end of eight of its last 10, including five straight SEC games.
This game kicks off the first of three road trips in the next four games.
Despite Vanderbilt’s slow start in SEC play, Lady Vols head coach Kellie Harper knows that it is important to never overlook any opponents.
“The thing about Vanderbilt, they have had some really good games,” Harper said. “I think for us it’s important we don’t look at their record. We don’t look at their last game and how that played out. I think it’s important that we go in locked in.”
Part of being locked in is going out and doing what you do best.
For Tennessee, a big part of that has been their effort and determination on the glass. After climbing the ranks to be the best rebounding team in the nation, there has been some slippage in that department.
“We’ve talked about our rebounding, and our numbers, and the concern that we have,” Harper said. “I think people were locked in and know that it’s a priority for them against us. If you’re good at it, you’re good at it, and we just haven’t been good at it recently."
Getting good at crashing the boards has certainly been a focus of Harper's staff lately.
After a concerning stretch that has saw the Lady Vols' production on the glass dip, Tennessee's focus in practice has shifted to correcting those woes.
"I think that’s obviously trending in the wrong direction in the last four or five games," Harper said. "The discipline and habits just aren’t where they need to be.”
Both LSU and UConn out-rebounded the Lady Vols in their last two games, including 17 offensive rebounds against UConn.
Tennessee will hope to get back on track in that department against a Vanderbilt team that only has one starter over six feet tall compared to four for UT.
The action is set to tipoff at 9 p.m. ET on SEC Network.
After their game with Vanderbilt, Tennessee will travel to Columbia, S.C. to take on No. 1 ranked South Carolina.
Photo courtesy of Tennessee Athletics