The Tennessee Lady Vols (4-1) will play host to the Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders (4-1) tonight as both teams are looking to get on a roll during non-conference play.
The Lady Vols are coming off a 90-37 victory over Alcorn State. Tennessee had six players in the game in double figures led by junior guard Meighan Simmons with 12 points. Simmons attributes the well-rounded scoring to their knowledge of each other's strengths and weaknesses.
"With our assist-to-turnover ratio, that right there says it all," said Simmons. "In the beginning, we didn't have that many assists. We had more turnovers than assists and something about us is that we've learned to play together."
The Lady Vols will have to play together in order to beat a tough Middle Tennessee side that is coming off a 72-45 rout of Louisiana-Lafayette. Junior forward Ebony Rowe is averaging a double-double with 19.8 points per game and 10.2 rebounds per game.
The Blue Raiders have two more players averaging double figures in scoring. Senior guard Kortni Jones has 17.4 points per game and senior forward Icelyn Elie has 15 points per game. The good news for the Lady Vols is that they are the only consistent scoring options for the Blue Raiders. Sophomore forward Cierra Burdick and freshman center Bashaara Graves need to have good defensive performances in order to shut down the Blue Raiders' inside scoring.
The Lady Vols have been working more on the defensive side of the ball during practice. Head coach Holly Warlick said that the focus has been playing good defense and then trying to score in transition.
"We're putting them in position to get good looks and scoring off our defense," said Warlick. "That's what I want."
Senior guard Taber Spani found her shooting touch against Alcorn State. Spani has struggled with shooting the ball so far this season, and she said she knows the team looks for her to shoot well.
"I've had a rough few games just with my shot and I've been trying to get back in rhythm, so it was nice to feel it going," said Spani.
The Lady Vols will need to be in midseason form as this game is a tough test before the four game gauntlet they will face in December. Senior guard Kamiko Williams had a good game against Alcorn State and Simmons said she thinks that she is capable of that all the time. Williams finished the game with 9 points, 4 rebounds and 4 steals.
"That's something that we're going to need from her when we play Middle Tennessee, North Carolina, Texas, Baylor and Stanford," said Simmons. "We're going to need her no matter what."