Tennessee vs. UNCW
Thursday, December 29th, 2016 | 6:00pm CT
Knoxville, TN | Thompson-Boling Arena
Knoxville, TN – Tennessee will look to extend its winning streak on Thursday at 6:00pm CT, as the Lady Vols host UNCW at Thompson-Boling Arena.
Thursday’s game will not be televised, but it will be available online via SECN+/WatchESPN. Visit WatchESPN.com or download the WatchESPN app to view the game on a computer or mobile device. Roger Hoover (PxP), #LVFL Andraya Carter (Analyst) and Elaina Lanson (Reporter) will describe the action between the Lady Vols and the Seahawks.
Fans can also tune into their local Lady Vol Network station to catch Mickey Dearstone describing the action.
RV/RV Tennessee vs. UNCW
RV/RV Tennessee (7-4) plays its fourth of five straight games at home when UNCW (5-5) comes to Knoxville for a Thursday night match-up.
The Lady Vols and Seahawks will meet at 6:00pm CT in Thompson-Boling Arena.
Both teams are coming off a lengthy holiday break, with UT last competing on December 21st (eight days) and UNCW last playing on December 19th (10 days).
This will mark Tennessee’s final contest of 2016 and the last non-conference game before SEC action begins.
The Lady Vols, however, will have one more non-conference tilt on the schedule, with Notre Dame coming to town on January 16th.
Holly Warlick’s squad will try to win its fourth straight contest and forge its first four-game victory string of the season.
UT hasn’t put together that many consecutive Ws since claiming the first five contests of the 2015-16 season from November 15th to November 27th, 2015.
Roger Hoover (PxP), Andraya Carter (Analyst) and Elaina Lanson (Reporter) will describe the action for the Tennessee-UNCW online broadcast on SECN+.
All of the games included in the SEC Network (SEC Network, SECN+) package and the ESPN package (ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU) will be available through WatchESPN, accessible online at WatchESPN.com, on smartphones and tablets via the WatchESPN app, and streamed on televisions through Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Chromecast, Roku, Xbox 360 or Xbox One to fans who receive their video subscriptions from an affiliated provider.
Mickey Dearstone will handle the call for the IMG College/Lady Vol Network radio/online broadcast. Airtime is 30 minutes prior to tip-off on network stations.
Home Sweet Home
This is the 30th season that the Tennessee women’s and men’s basketball teams have called Thompson-Boling Arena home, and the Lady Vols own an incredible 420-33 mark (.927) in the venue.
UT is 5-1 at home in 2016-17.
Thompson-Boling Arena has an official seating capacity of 21,678.
UT has led the nation in attendance 19 times in the past 25 years, finishing second the past two years after an 11-season run at No. 1.
Tennessee ranks fourth in the nation in attendance this season at 8,349.
Tennessee-UNCW Series Notes
The Lady Vols and Seahawks are meeting for the first time in women’s basketball.
UNCW is a member of the Colonial Athletic Association and is the third team from that league Tennessee will play.
The Lady Vols are 4-0 vs. schools from the CAA, including a victory at James Madison in the 2016-17 season opener.
UT is 3-0 all-time vs. JMU and 1-0 vs. College of Charleston.
Tennessee will be the fourth different Southeastern Conference opponent UNCW has faced in 44 years of women’s basketball.
The Seahawks are 0-6 all-time against SEC foes, losing four meetings against South Carolina along with losses against Arkansas and Auburn.
Lady vol Junior Trio Leading The Way
Those three players are the team’s top scorers and rebounders through 11 games, and they have combined for 15 double-doubles.
A preseason All-SEC Second Team pick, Mercedes Russell is having a breakout season.
Her stats after eleven games include a team-leading 16.0 ppg. and 9.2 rpg. while hitting 55 percent on field goals and 65 percent on free throws.
Russell has notched double-doubles in seven of her first 11 games this season to give her 18 for her career.
In her first two seasons of play, Russell had only four games of 15 or more points. She has 15 or more points in nine of 11 games this season.
Nared is off to the best start of her career, as well, averaging 14.6 points and 8.7 rebounds while shooting 90 percent from the free throw line and is third on the team with 12 steals.
She rang up double-doubles in four consecutive games, tallying 18 points and 11 rebounds vs. Penn State, 11/10 vs. Virginia Tech, 16/10 vs. Tennessee State and 19/11 vs. Baylor before it came to an end with a career-high 22 points and only five rebounds vs. Texas. She added another D-D vs. Appalachian State with 15 points and 10 rebounds.
Nared already has five of the top scoring efforts of her career in her first 11 games this season with a career-high 22 vs. Texas, 21 vs. Troy, 19 vs. James Madison and Baylor, and 18 vs. Penn State.
Nared’s four-game streak of doubles-doubles marked the first time since early in 2015-16 she had strung together consecutive games scoring in double figures since doing so vs. Stetson (12), Missouri (13) and Florida (10). Her streak of scoring in double figures is now at eight games.
Nared’s father, Greg, played basketball at Maryland and is now the director of camps and community basketball with the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks.
A preseason All-SEC First Team selection, DeShields is a do-it-all player who is averaging 15.3 points per game to rank second on the team. She ranks second in assists (3.2) and blocks (1.5), third in rebounding (6.4) and third in steals (1.1). She is shooting 40% from the field, 37% on threes and 78% from the charity stripe.
She has dished out five or more assists in four games thus far.
DeShields is the daughter of retired Major League Baseball standout Delino DeShields and brother of current Texas Rangers outfielder Delino DeShields Jr.
After scoring a career-high 29 points vs. Troy, junior guard Alexa Middleton joins that trio scoring in double figures at 10.8 ppg.
Middleton leads the team with 21 three-pointers and is hitting .553 from beyond the arc.
She also is second on the team in steals (14) and is third in assists (29).
Lady Vol Odds and Ends
Tennessee has played the nation’s sixth-toughest schedule thus far, according to the NCAA.
After beating Troy, 110-84, Tennessee now has five wins of 25 points or more this season.
UT only had five wins of 25 points or more the entire 2015-16 season and had only two through 11 games a year ago.
The 84 points surrendered vs. Troy were the most allowed in a Lady Vols’ victory since UT beat Vandy, 94-88, on February 15th, 2004.
The Lady Vols are 5-0 this season when they record seven or more steals in a game.
Tennessee is undefeated when it outscores or ties its opponents in fast-break points.
After scoring a season-high 24 and allowing a season-high 16 vs. Troy, UT is averaging 19.0 fast-break points per game over its last three outings and allowing 8.3.
Tennessee has seven 20-point scoring games spread over four different players this season, with Alexa Middleton leading the way with three of those.
UT scored its highest point total of the season vs. Troy (110) with its second highest scorer (Diamond DeShields, 15.3 ppg.) out due to injury.
Alexa Middleton is averaging a team-leading 18.0 points and shooting 61 percent on field goals, 73 percent on three-pointers and 100 percent on free throws over the past three games
Lady Vols in NCAA Statistical Rankings
Tennessee ranks 11th nationally in rebounds per game at 46.0.
UT is 30th in three-point field goal percentage at .373.
The Lady Vols are 37th in scoring offense at 77.1 per contest.
Jordan Reynolds stands 21st nationally in assist-to-turnover ratio at 2.81.
Jaime Nared ranks 21st nationally in free throw percentage at .895.
About the Seahawks
UNCW enters the game with a 5-5 record, having won in three of its last five contests.
The Seahawks are coming off a 91-65 home victory over NCAA Division II Catawba on December 19th, where they posted their highest offensive output of the season.
The Seahawks were predicted to finish ninth again this year in the CAA race.
Redshirt senior guard Jasmine Steele earned Honorable Mention notice on the Preseason All-CAA Team.
Madison Raque, a 5-8 junior guard, paces the UNCW attack, firing in 13.2 points per game.
She has connected on 25 of 65 three-point attempts (.385).
UNCW is being outscored on average, 65.8 to 63.3, and the Seahawks having scored 70 or more only two times this season.
A total of 7,058 fans have watched UNCW play at home this season. The crowd the Seahawks play in front of on Thursday evening will more than likely top that season total.
UNCW appears to be a fast-starting squad, scoring its most points (180) and allowing the fewest (145) in the opening stanza of games.
After facing UNCW, the Lady Vols open 2017 and SEC play with a New Year’s Day tussle against #17/24 Kentucky (4:00pm). The game will be televised by ESPN2.
After matching up with the Lady Vols, the Seahawks turn their attention toward a January 2nd meeting with CAA favorite James Madison in Harrisonburg, VA.