Despite a bad first quarter where only Jaime Nared and Mercedes Russell scored, the Lady Vols’ discipline helped them earn a 59-46 win over Arkansas.
Tennessee was facing a must-win situation on Sunday when they hosted Arkansas if they wanted to keep their hopes of a bye in the SEC Tournament alive.
The Lady Vols only scored 22 points in the first half, but managed to keep the game within reach thanks to their defensive play.
UT allowed just 23 points in the first half, but forced Arkansas to take its share of rushed and bad shots. Tennessee was only able to shoot 25 percent from the field in the first quarter, but a pesky Lady Vols defense forced the Hogs to shoot 24 percent. Both teams improved a bit in the second quarter and by the end of the half the Lady Vols were shooting 31 percent while Arkansas was shooting 29.4 percent.
All signs pointed to a second straight game for UT that would go down to the wire.
Tennessee also struggled to get the ball inside early in the game and took a lot of three-pointers because of it. The Lady Vols went 1-of-11 in the first half from deep. If it wasn’t for several shots not falling for the Hogs late, UT could have had a much bigger hill to climb in the second half.
The third quarter went very similar to the first half for both teams, but you could tell the Lady Vols had turned their intensity up a notch. Tennessee held the Hogs to just 2-of-6 from three-point range in the quarter and found a way to go 3-of-4 from deep themselves.
Tennessee was also able to out-rebound the Razorbacks 13-to-7 in the quarter and once UT got the lead early they never gave it back. Still, Tennessee was only able to out-score the Hogs 15-12 in the quarter, keeping things close entering the fourth.
The fourth quarter is when the Lady Vols really got it going, scoring 22 points, which equaled what they had scored in the entire first half.
Tennessee got big shots and several big three-pointers from Nared and Alexa Middleton. UT had its largest lead on several occasions in the quarter and put the Hogs away.