Vicki Baugh, who tweaked her iliotibial band on Monday, was cleared to take the floor Tuesday. The freshman forward's presence is key with the absence of junior forward Alex Fuller, who is being held out to rest because of sore knees.
"I aggravated it," Baugh said of the IT band on her left leg, which has given her problems in the past. "No problem."
The Tennessee team will practice in Knoxville on Wednesday afternoon before taking a bus to Lexington. Because of an inclement weather forecast for Thursday – the bus would have to cross the Cumberland Plateau into Tennessee – they will take a charter flight home to Knoxville after the game.
Fuller is expected to miss the Kentucky game but could be available for Sunday's matchup against Vanderbilt in Knoxville.
The Lady Vols used this week to insert a 3-2 matchup zone into their defensive repertoire. Coach Pat Summitt realized the zone looks needed more work after watching her team play against Auburn.
"I couldn't watch it," Summitt said. "I could not watch it. That was not defense. That was standing."
Tennessee tried different looks by putting one of the bigs at the top of the zone and also used its lengthy guards in Hornbuckle and Alberta Auguste. The matchup morphed according to the offensive attack used by the scout team.
"Anytime you're in a zone your zone is going to take the shape of the offense," Summitt said. "We can go with Lex up there or Bird up there."
Tennessee's primary defense will always be its man look, but Summitt wants to have a change of pace ready.
"What we're doing right now is working on our matchup zone and our 3-2 as a good changeup," Summitt said. "You never know when we might need it. We're trying to get our team to understand you bring the same intensity in your zone defenses as you do in your man defense.
"When we have gone zone it looked like a four-letter word. They are just standing there."
After a sputtering performance Sunday against South Carolina to get its second SEC win, Tennessee used the past two days of practice to focus on itself.
"I think we've gotten a little bit better," Assistant Coach Dean Lockwood said. "We've also worked on some offensive rebounding. Our defensive rebounding has been slightly better, but it's like any scale. You put weights on one end of the scale and it tips, you've got to go back and balance it.
"I like how we've responded. We have to be so smart in how we practice this time of year. To go ultra-hard even for an hour and an half with eight players? Tough. Very, very tough. But with our program we want to practice with a certain level of intensity. So the question is how hard. Yesterday, we went a lot harder in terms of the intensity level and went more time and then today it was short, and we really got some concepts covered. I liked the last two practices, and now we'll see."
Two constants at practice are the chatter and energy of Shannon Bobbitt. The senior point guard brings as much enthusiasm to practice as she does to games. She also entered the Lady Vol record books with her 100th three-pointer against South Carolina. That put her 11th all-time as she passed Kellie Jolly, who had 99.
Next up on the list are the 103 three-pointers made by Jody Adams and Tasha Butts. Clearly, Bobbitt – despite playing at Tennessee for merely two years – should finish in the top 10 for her career.
"It's amazing," Summitt said. "It's absolutely amazing. I keep saying she doesn't get the respect. You've got to notice a point guard that's doing what she is doing."
Angie Bjorklund, a freshman with 34 three-pointers to date, said she has watched Bobbitt at work.
"She hunts for those," Bjorklund said. "She's a great shooter. She gets open shots in the corner a lot. I learn from that. She hunts for the ball, spots up and takes it."
Bjorklund also enjoys the enthusiasm that Bobbitt brings to the court.
"I love it," Bjorklund said. "She gets me hyped. She's a little sparkplug. Her excitement and enthusiasm, her way of playing, it gets me hyped up. We love it."
Lockwood said the coaching staff sleeps better knowing that Bobbitt is at the helm.
"She's a great person. She's a committed individual. She's hard working. She's competitive. She's mentally tough," Lockwood said.
"To me it's like having my best bike in the shed out back and having a couple of Marines guarding it. I'm going to sleep real well. And with her at point guard we sleep real well because you don't worry. I can't remember the last team that pressed us. All of us have so much confidence when she has the ball, and she's running the point.
"I think our players have confidence in her. There's a feel-good factor. It's like a good quarterback. The linemen feel better. The defense feels better. Everybody feels better. There's a level of mental and emotional security that we all have with Shannon Bobbitt and at the same time she's striving to get better."
Lockwood's praise of Bobbitt is so effusive that it's best to just listen and get out of the way, much like any defender ends up doing that tries to stop her forward progress.
"She's brought a dimension … this kid to me is a pure, pure point guard," Lockwood said. "Having a pure point guard who's got a tough, competitive mindset, in college basketball especially, makes all the difference in the world. It fuels her; it fuels our team. That just gives us juice.
"You remember that North Carolina game (in Cleveland), and she had that little thing with (Ivory) Latta. That juiced our team up. Our team made comments about that afterwards about that, ‘Look, I'm 5'2, and I'm not taking an ounce of anything off of you.'
"I've never known Shannon to be disrespectful or to disrespect the game or an opponent or to be demeaning, but at the same time she's not going to hesitate to stand up for herself. That spirit in her just infects the rest of the team."