In its lowest scoring performance of the season, the Lady Vols throttled a struggling Kentucky team to start off SEC play 1-0, final score 63-49. It's only the fifth time in program history a team has started the season 13-0, the first since the 2005-2006 season and the best start under head coach Holly Warlick.
The team's success has normally come on the offensive end. The Lady Vols average just over 88 points per game, the sixth highest total in the country. In the first quarter, it seemed to be heading in that direction. Tennessee outpaced Kentucky 26-7 in the first 10 minutes of action at Rupp Arena. Things got a little sloppy after that. The Lady Vols turned over the ball 21 times in its first SEC matchup.
Where the offense struggled, the defense excelled. At halftime, Kentucky scored just 20 points, shooting 22.9% from the field. The Wildcats finished the game with its lowest point total of the season.
While on a whole, the Tennessee offense played below expectations, there were a couple of good individual performances. Freshman Evina Westbrook tied a career-high in points with 17 against the Wildcats. She set her career high in the last contest, an 83-71 win over Stanford.
Redshirt junior Mercedes Russell had 16 points, 7 rebounds and 4 blocks. Her height was a huge problem for Kentucky in the paint. While Jaime Nared struggled from the field, shooting just 2-11, the senior notched her sixth double-double of the season, with 11 points, 10 rebounds, 6 assists and 2 steals.
Tennessee is now 4-0 when playing on New Year's Eve. The team will look to stay undefeated when it faces Auburn on January 4 in Knoxville.