For two consecutive games, the Lady Vols were in desperate need of an offensive spark coming out of the locker room to start the second half.

Both times, Cierra Burdick answered the call.

The junior forward scored 16 points – 10 of which came in the second half – against Arkansas on Jan. 30 and one-upped herself in the Lady Vols' second half comeback against Alabama.

Burdick poured in 14 of her career-high 21 points in the decisive half and was the key factor in Tennessee's win streak increasing to four.

The present couldn't be any more different than the past for the Charlotte, N.C., native who struggled mightily for the Lady Vols to begin the season.

"I thought I started to gradually progress as far as hitting shots starting at Texas, and then I kind of had that breakthrough moment against Arkansas," said Burdick on when she felt that her game was starting to turn around. "I think I just realized that I love this game and I want to have fun doing it and for a while at the beginning of the season I wasn't having fun.

"I think that was the biggest difference, and one day I woke up and was like look, I enjoy this game, I love it, and I have an extreme passion for it and I want fans to be able to see that."

But reclaiming her love of the game wasn't all that Burdick needed.

She also returned to her old ways, putting less pressure on herself as she looked to better herself from game to game.

"I just got back to a normal routine," Burdick said. "In the beginning, I was pressed or I was getting on the gun and shooting 700 to 1,000 shots any given night, and that was hurting more than helping me. Now, on off days I like to get into the gym, just turn on the music, get on the gun and shoot about 250 to 500 shots and I think that has really built my confidence up."

The change in preparation has payed off as Burdick was named the SEC Player of the Week after averaging 18.5 points, nine rebounds and three assists per game. She shot 68.2 percent from the field this past week, a vast improvement from her early season woes.

"(I've seen a change in) her focus and her mentality," head coach Holly Warlick said. "She sees the need of her scoring ability for us and she has been leading off the court and on the court away from her. She has been very vocal and we needed somebody to step up and I think she has done that and I think that takes the tension in her mind off of her and then she relaxes and plays."

The Lady Vols find themselves back up to second place in the conference standings due in large part to Burdick's recent success.

Burdick, however, doesn't take credit for turning her game around.

She bestows that honor to the fans, coaches and her teammates.

"The whole thing to begin the season was something that I have never had to deal with," Burdick said. "It was probably the toughest time, as far as basketball goes, in my life.

"I wouldn't have been able to do it without the people around me – that's for sure."