Tennessee, MSU to tip off again

Daedra Charles-Furlow sounded like a stockbroker, coach and inspirational speaker all at once Saturday as she tried to both understand the Lady Vols' recent woes and motivate the team to play to its potential. The next chance comes this afternoon against Mississippi State, and the assistant coach wants to see a team invested in the Tennessee program.

The way Daedra Charles-Furlow analyzes the Lady Vol stock, the staff is fully invested, as are the fans and the players who wore the uniform before this team did. The returning players for Tennessee have bought into the company plan. But the first-year players are behaving like day traders – in one game, out the next.

"They've got to decide," Charles-Furlow said. "It's them who have to decide. The formula is in place. The formula works. It's been working. We've got eight national championships. Are they going to decide to buckle down and really invest in it? Like I told them: ‘There are so many people who have more stock invested than you guys. Y'all are first-year investors and how much have you invested in that first year?'

"The truth of that matter is that people who are invested, truly invested, are going to go all out. These fans haven't stopped coming. They haven't stopped coming. You know why? Because they are invested, and they believe in you."

No. 13/19 Tennessee (18-8, 7-4) takes on Mississippi State (19-7, 6-5) at 3 p.m. Eastern (Lady Vol Radio Network) at Thompson-Boling Arena.

Charles-Furlow was an invested player. The two-time All-American and Wade Trophy winner is now an invested assistant coach in her first year at Tennessee after two seasons at Auburn.

The Lady Vols are 1-3 in their last four games with a win over Alabama and losses to Florida, Duke and Kentucky. The defeats have two constants – shooting woes from the outside and defenders vulnerable to dribble penetration. It has been frustrating for the coaches and Alex Fuller, the team's lone senior, because they have seen how well the team can play in stretches.

The fact three freshmen are in the starting lineup with three more coming off the bench is not considered to be a factor because, as Charles-Furlow pointed out, the breakdowns have been basketball fundamentals that have been drilled repeatedly in practice since October.

"Let's take freshmen, sophomore, junior, senior out of the equation," Charles-Furlow said. "Let's just talk women who are playing basketball. If you're on the team and you are asked to play these positions and do certain things on this team and when you do these things this is going to help us win, what would you do? You're going to do those little things to help your team win whether you are 9, 10, 11 or 12. It does not matter.

"So my thing is that do you really want to do that or are you on your own page?"

That could imply a selfish team, but the assistant coach said that would be inaccurate. It's more like an immature one.

"I won't say selfish," Charles-Furlow said. "That is too strong of a word. Spoiled is a good word. They were allowed to get away with certain things whereas here you're not. You're going to get critiqued and you can't take it personally. Your skin has to get thicker like a callous on your foot. It gets thicker. And they haven't learned that yet.

"Pat has mellowed. I give her that. She has. But I am going to tell you something. Pat wants what she wants. And this team, this university is branded on defense and rebounding because that is how we win championships here. That is a brand. It is branded. And this team has consistently not done it, and it's a problem."

Charles-Furlow knows Summitt well from a player's point of view. She butted heads with the coach and had to learn how to listen to what was said, not how it was said. The result was two national titles during her tenure in orange.

Charles-Furlow was also on the last and, until Friday, only team to lose access to its locker room because the players were deemed to not be deserving of the privilege. The 2008-09 group was booted from the comfy accommodations after the road loss to Kentucky and were relocated to one of the spare visiting locker rooms.

The regular locker room has a stadium-seating area with plush chairs with cup holders for viewing film. So the team met in Pratt Pavilion on Saturday morning for the scouting session.

"We're not going in that locker room," Coach Pat Summitt said.

The 1989-90 team lost its locker room after defeats to Stanford and Long Beach State during a West Coast road trip right before Christmas.

Charles-Furlow recalled that the team, which had won a national title in 1989, had gotten overconfident and became vulnerable to teams who put forth more effort on the court. The players were stunned to return home and be told to clear out.

"She told us to get out of the locker room, and we thought she was playing, but she wasn't playing," Charles-Furlow said. "I'm like, ‘She's going to throw us out of the locker room?' When she made us get all of our things out, we knew it was for real. Changed the locks."

The team tried to improve the stark locker room's bare walls.

"We put posters in there, and we had our boombox, and the next day we went in and it was all gone," Charles-Furlow said. "It was like, ‘No, this is to teach you a lesson.' We were saying to ourselves – we wouldn't dare say it to her – this was our stuff that we wanted to dress up our locker room."

Charles-Furlow shakes her head and laughs now at the memory.

Summitt, who was standing nearby and heard part of the interview, just smiled and said, "Here I am dealing with these issues again all these years later."

It didn't take those players long to realize what they had done to cause the loss of luxury.

"It humbled us and it made us appreciate what we had," Charles-Furlow said. "I think sometimes you take things for granted."

It took awhile to be allowed back inside.

"It was two months before we got back in there," Charles-Furlow said. "She definitely sent the message. Until you guys earn it back, you're not getting back in there. I think we got it. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to understand that if you're not doing the things you need to do, things are taken away from you.

"I understood: Take nothing for granted. They've given everything to us. You need to work for it. You want to stay in this locker room, work for it. You want to get your clothes washed and start wearing nice gear, you work for it.

Does this year's team understand?

"I think half of them understand it and the other half really doesn't understand," Charles-Furlow said. "It's like, ‘OK we're out of the locker room.' That type of thing. It's really trying to get them to understand, don't take any of this for granted. We have the best fan support in the country. They pay their money to come watch us play basketball. They want us to win like we should want to win. We can't take that for granted that they're always going to be there. They've sacrificed. Where's our sacrifice?"

Summitt thinks the message would be absorbed by the team as a whole.

"I think they'll get this one," Summitt said Saturday.

But it also is troublesome for the coaches that such punishment had to come so late in the season.

"We got booted out earlier in the year, not later in the year," Charles-Furlow said.

The players practiced in Pratt Pavilion on Friday and are not allowed access to that locker room either. One sign that at least one freshman was getting at least the concept was when Summitt blew the whistle and ordered the team to shoot free throws. Briana Bass asked permission to first get some water behind a nearby basket. Hydration is always allowed at any point during practice, but the point was that she asked for permission instead of expecting it to be OK to walk away from the closest basket to shoot free throws.

Before practice the players use an upstairs rest room to change clothes. They also are bringing their own practice clothes – they are not allowed to use this year's gear – and they must also launder the items.

"I go in the rest room, and there are 10 bags in a public rest room," said Charles-Furlow, who had been upstairs watching film. "It was surreal. But that's the reality of it if you're not going to appreciate what you have. I'm giving, giving, giving, giving and all you're doing is taking, taking, taking, taking. Something is not right.

"If we're losing but we're playing hard and the effort is there, that's something totally different. But when the effort is not there and we're not playing hard, that's when people get upset. That's what makes us upset. We know you have it in you because we've seen it. Why aren't you doing it?"

That is the part that is frustrating to Fuller, who came back for a fifth year and deserves a better exit than losing the locker room in her final season.

"It's frustrating to know that they have so much talent," Fuller said. "They know how to play basketball, and they're just not putting it into effect. I think that's the frustrating thing. I can't tell you what you need to do for your game. I can observe things and kind of advise but I can't necessarily make you do anything to help yourself."

Fuller also is concerned by the timing as the team is sputtering near the finish line.

"That's the main thing – this is happening when we've got three games left in the season when teams are playing like tournament teams right now," Fuller said. "They're all gelling right now. Most teams right now are consistent and they're gelling, and we're not. We're inconsistent. We play together at times."

The team held a clear-the-air/Come-to-Jesus meeting on Friday that lasted well over an hour. Each player and coach spoke, and Fuller advised the freshmen to quit making excuses for poor play and mistakes.

"I think listening more so than trying to defend themselves; I think listening (needs to be) the number one priority for them," Fuller said.

"Absolutely. Absolutely," Summitt said.

After the Kentucky loss in Lexington, Fuller was asked in the post-game press conference about how long it took freshmen to adjust to being Lady Vols and the weight of expectations.

"They knew what they signed up for when they got the scholarship letter in the mail," Fuller said. "They knew that they were coming in with six classmates and one senior and four sophomores and one junior. Everybody knew what they had gotten themselves into when the came here, and Pat got them to Tennessee because they were top-notch All-American players, and she thought that they could step up and replace what we lost last year."

Unfortunately for Tennessee the junior is a redshirt sophomore point guard who can't play anymore because of a balky right knee. One of the sophomores is Vicki Baugh, who is out with a torn ACL. Another sophomore is redshirt freshman center Kelley Cain, who is in her first year on the court.

But Fuller doesn't want to hear anyone call the team young anymore. She thinks it's providing another excuse for players too receptive to hearing one.

"I think it's just being young minded," Fuller said. "In my opinion I think we use the ‘young' term a little bit too loosely. I think that's something that some people have thrived on. You have to work to be at Tennessee. It's not just a label. It's not a sticker that you just put on your chest. It's there, and it's going to be there for good. Once you go to Tennessee you're always going to be a part of Tennessee, and it's something you have to work for day in and day out."

Charles-Furlow understands the adjustment process but also doesn't want to hear any more freshmen excuses.

"I think playing at this level and playing at this intensity all the time it's taking them a whole year to really get that and understand that," Charles-Furlow said. "It is common, however … "

The freshmen have played a lot of minutes in 26 total games and 11 SEC ones.

"Exactly," she said.

That flip should then switch quicker than freshmen that play in limited reserve roles.

"Exactly," she said.

Most of the freshmen have already played major roles with three in the starting lineup.

"Exactly," she said.

Charles-Furlow reminded the newcomers of the "Fab Five," a team of five freshmen starters for Michigan who made it to the national championship game in 1992, changing the game of college basketball and fashion trends along the way.

Given that Summitt has already decried how much time this generation spends electronically connected to iPods and cell phones, the players might have thought that Charles-Furlow was talking about T-Mobile's Fave Five and Charles Barkley and Dwayne Wade. But her point was to point out what freshmen with confidence could do in their first year.

"I talked to them about the Fab Five," Charles-Furlow said. "I said, ‘Do y'all realize that Michigan team, it was five freshmen? They said they were going to shock the world. They told everybody.' And they did because it was five freshmen that took that team to a national championship game. They went twice."

Charles-Furlow even looked up the stats of those players in their first year and compared them to Tennessee's freshmen.

"The scoring is basically identical to what our freshmen have produced," Charles-Furlow said. "But the difference is those guys had a swagger, and they had confidence, and they were not going to let anybody beat them. They got together and decided that and when you decide that can't nobody stop that."

But the coaches first have to change the newcomers' habits and mindset.

"I've watched them warm up and go out," Charles-Furlow said. "I don't know if they're thinking basketball. Once I come out of the locker room I'm thinking basketball. When I walk out on the floor I am thinking about the game. I'm not thinking about all the people in the stands, watching and trying to talk to everybody and waving. I don't know if that is their thought process when they cross the line. When they get on that 94 feet it's about basketball. What am I going to do? How am I going to help this team?

"What that comes down to is learning how to prepare for a game, and I don't think they really know how to prepare for a game. I think they think they do, but that's just not good enough."

And there are not enough veterans – there is only one upperclassman, and Fuller is usually out shooting two hours before tipoff – to supervise the rest of the team.

"Exactly," Charles-Furlow said.

Fuller has been to three Final Fours – in 2005, when she was sitting out a year for ACL surgery and in 2007 and 2008 when the Lady Vols won back-to-back national titles. In her first three years of playing, Tennessee tallied just 10 total losses. Her senior year has already seen eight.

"I don't like to lose at all, especially not this much and especially not this time in our season when it's down to crunch time," Fuller said. "I think it hurts them to lose, as far as the freshmen class. Different people show it in different ways."

Freshmen often don't tend to have much sense of urgency. They think they have plenty of time. When they become seniors they realize how quickly the time passed and wonder what chances they squandered. Fuller, who graduated in December, came back specifically to help this class.

Does she think the season-long messages are finally sinking in?

"I hope so, but you can't really predict until our next game comes, until our next three games come, to see what the result is," Fuller said.

"We'll know on Sunday," Charles-Furlow said. "The proof is in the pudding. We'll put you on the floor, we have a game plan, we know what they're going to do and we can anticipate what they're going to do, but it's up to you to make the plays and get it done."

The coaches cut back on the practice time in the latter part of this week, as they made a decision to ease off the throttle, especially after pushing the team so hard Tuesday.

However, that's another difference in a senior and freshmen. Fuller knows any fatigue is stemming from the head, not the body.

"As far as our bodies and physically I don't think fatigue is a factor but sometimes I think we give it to it mentally," Fuller said." That might be an issue, but nobody can fix that but that individual person. Some people might have mental breakdowns."

The coaches hope Friday's meeting was more beneficial than additional court time.

"To tell you as I see it as a group of freshmen they haven't had a sense of urgency," Summitt said. "I don't know what will come from our meeting, but if they're talking the truth then they'll come ready to play."

"You can only do so much," Charles-Furlow said. "You can run them to death. You can browbeat them. But the bottom line is work on the things that we needed to work on and hopefully they'll come in here and be ready to play. I do remember certain teams we lose to, it's awful to come back and practice, and we knew it and we sucked it up and we did what we had to do because we had no business losing. When you handle your business, not that the practice the next day is going to be easy, but when you handle your business you're not being badgered about what you didn't do.

"You still didn't do some things but at least the win is a little comfort. It's not such a heavy blow. We still got blasted about things we didn't do, and that was fine. That was to keep us hungry. That was to keep us humbled. And with this group I really don't know what makes them tick. I am still trying to figure it out."

Charles-Furlow provided an example with freshman Alyssia Brewer, a post player from Oklahoma. Brewer played a first half against Duke that was solid on both ends of the floor.

"When we played against Duke, Lyssi, in the first half, played probably the best basketball I saw her play," Charles-Furlow said. "She defended, she was rebounding, she was all over the place. And then where did she go the second half? I really don't know and she couldn't tell me what happened.

"Obviously they don't want to look bad but sometimes they look bad and I don't think they know how to get out of it themselves. We tell them, but they don't do it."

Charles-Furlow wants to infuse into this team the warrior spirit of Nicky Anosike, who had the mentality of an upperclassman when she arrived on campus. Summitt said during Anosike's freshman year that she was cut from a different cloth.

"She got mad if she got beat," Charles-Furlow said. "Got mad if she didn't get a rebound. This was an animal in pursuit of that basketball all the time. Now, was she a great shooter? No. But when she shot the ball she was going to rebound and when she went to go rebound, you knew she was there. Didn't nobody bully her around.

"We don't have that yet. Now Kelley? Last few games light bulb is on. It's on. And I am saying, ‘Why won't y'all get the ball to her?' This kid can score and they didn't have an answer for her at Kentucky."

Kelley Cain and Alex Fuller were saluted by Summitt after that game for their effort, and both were upset afterwards at some of their teammates, who they said needed to grow up and understand what a commitment to the Lady Vols meant. The last difficult year for Fuller was in 2005-06 when Shanna Zolman and Tye'sha Fluker were seniors – that team lost five games and one point guard to transfer and another to injury – "but it doesn't come close because there are so many freshmen," she said.

Despite the struggles Fuller thinks the team can make a run. The key is finding enough competitors among the 10 left on the roster.

"We have such a short time that we don't really have a choice," Fuller said. "We have to find at least five people. That's all we need to play so we have to have at least five."

Can they find five?

"Hopefully, eventually,' Fuller said with a laugh, her sense of humor still intact. "I still have confidence. We'll just have to see once we play on Sunday."

Charles-Furlow wants to see some swagger Sunday.

"I don't know when the last time is we really attacked the basket," Charles-Furlow said. "Why do they dictate what we do? We should be dictating. Not them. This is our offense. This is what we're running."

Her message to the team before the game in the stark visitor's locker room will be straightforward.

"You guys have it," Charles-Furlow said. "You've shown it. And you've got to get better. But y'all have to decide. Pat can't give it to you. I can't give it to you. Holly (Warlick) and Dean (Lockwood) can't give it to you. You all have to decide what you want to do and where you want to go. It's in your hands."

PROBABLE STARTERS: Coach Pat Summitt is expected to start: Shekinna Stricklen, 6'2 freshman guard/forward, No. 40 (12.7 points per game, 5.9 rebounds per game, 2.8 assists per game); Angie Bjorklund, 6'0 sophomore guard, No. 5 (11.5 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 3.3 apg); Glory Johnson, 6'3 freshman forward, No. 25 (11.1 ppg, 7.3 rpg); Alex Fuller, 6'3 redshirt senior forward, No. 2 (7.8 ppg, 6.2 rpg); and Kelley Cain, 6'6 redshirt freshman center, No. 52 (7.2 ppg, 4.8 rpg).

Summitt has opted to use a big lineup for defensive purposes so that means the 5'2 Briana Bass will come off the bench. After a solid second game against Duke she struggled against the dribble penetration of Kentucky. Bass also encountered some defensive difficulties in the first game against Mississippi State in Starkville on Jan. 15.

"I'm just wanting us to defend better off the bounce, people going by us, so we've just got to get down and defend," Summitt said. "They picked on Bree big time, and she's got to get a lot tougher mentally both ends of the floor."

Tennessee won that game, 63-56, but had to come from behind to do so. Stricklen was a perfect 10-10 from the line.

Johnson, a versatile forward, can defend at the three on the perimeter and drop into the paint on offense. Summitt said the team also could run some triangle offense with the frontline of Johnson, Fuller and Cain.

"We'll put Glory at the high post and Alex and Kelley down low," Summitt said.

This will be the 11th different starting lineup of the season as Cain and Johnson have not started together.

"It's just been a challenge," Summitt said. "You never know who's going to show up in the freshmen class. You never know who's going to be ready to play and for some reason it's been a ‘my turn,' instead of us getting this done together, particularly offensively. We're shooting such a low percentage."

Part of the reason for the shooting percentage has been the struggles of Bjorklund, who watched film with Summitt on Friday.

"I think she's just been pressing," Summitt said. "She wants to do more."

Summitt needs Johnson to play with abandon on defense and composure on offense. Johnson had to be taken out in the first half of the Kentucky game after a violent offensive foul in which she drove from the top of the key and when she encountered a defender in her path in the paint, she lowered her shoulder and jumped into the Wildcat.

"She didn't really give me feedback on that," Summitt said with a somewhat bewildered smile. "I was just trying to get her to slow down and read. Just be more consistent. Limit her fouls and be more consistent offensively. To Glory, it's not play hard. It's you need to have more composure."

The issue in the past four games, in which the team's record is 1-3, is finding enough players willing to compete during their minutes on the court. The rotation today will depend on how the game plays out.

"I have no clue right now, no clue how deep we'll go," Summitt said.

Summitt is pleased with what she has gotten from Cain, who moved into the starting lineup against Alabama – the one win in the past four games – and has averaged 11.7 points and 6.0 rebounds per game. She did not start against Kentucky because of stomach illness but came off the bench to score 16 points. Cain has also been slowed this season by knee pain after having her right kneecap realigned.

"I don't think she is having quite as much pain, but she is still going to have some pain," Summitt said. "She's gotten a lot tougher."

The coach saw a difference in Cain "when I put her in the lineup," Summitt said. "I think she's more confident now. I think she realized we need her. We've told her how much we need her. I think she's gained a lot more confidence."

Mississippi State Coach Sharon Fanning is expected to start: Alexis Rack, 5'7 junior guard, No. 2 (14.3 ppg, 4.5 apg), had 15 points, six assists against Auburn, hit three 3-pointers against Tennessee; Armelie Lumanu, 5'9 junior guard/forward, No. 5 (11.5 ppg, 5.8 rpg), leads the team with 64 steals; Tysheka Grimes, 6'0 junior guard/forward, No. 23 (7.3 ppg, 4.3 rpg), has started four games this season; Robin Porter, 5'11 senior forward, No. 24 (8.8 ppg, 6.7 rpg), had 12 points, nine boards against Tennessee; and Chanel Mokango, 6'5 junior forward, No. 10 (10.5 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 3.3 blocks per game), had 15 points, seven rebounds and seven blocks against Tennessee, ranked third in the country in blocks.

Mary Kathryn Govero, a 5'11 sophomore forward, started in the last game against Tennessee but could come off the bench with Grimes, who had eight points against the Lady Vols, replacing her in the lineup.

SCOUTING REPORT: Assistant Coach Daedra Charles-Furlow handled the scouting report for the Tennessee-Mississippi State. Here is her assessment.

When Mississippi State has the ball: In the first game, the Bulldogs' game plan was to penetrate to the basket, knock down midrange and long-range shots, make use of ball screens and score early in the offense.

"They're doing the same type of things, a lot of penetration," Charles-Furlow said.

The assistant coach watched recent game tapes and saw opposing teams play more zone against Mississippi State to try to stop the forays to the rim.

"What a lot of teams are doing now as I scout them is they're playing zone so they're not allowed to penetrate as much," Charles-Furlow said. "They have some nice offensive zone sets that they're running. Their deal is to penetrate. They're going to penetrate and kick to their shooters – Alexis Rack, (Tysheka) Grimes, (Mary Kathryn) Govero. They're doing a really good job of distributing the basketball."

Rack has shown the ability to hit deep threes. Chanel Mokango is also a top priority.

"What makes her so dangerous is she is not just a block player," Charles-Furlow said. "She can shoot the three ball. She can shoot midrange. She can do so many different things so we really have to limit her touches and make it really difficult for her to score."

Defensively, the Bulldogs could use different looks, including full court pressure.

"They're running some zone and they're running their man to man," Charles-Furlow said. "They'll press. They've been watching tape. They're probably going to look to double team Kelley Cain in the post and try to limit her touches because she has been playing really well for us. And with the (Tennessee) guards, if I was scouting them, I would say leave the guards open because they haven't proven themselves to be able to shoot from the outside right now. My focus would be to shut down the inside because our high-low has been really good."

When Tennessee has the ball: The Lady Vols have found a weapon inside with Cain.

"We're going to look for Kelley," Charles-Furlow said. "She's the biggest thing on the inside for us and Alex (Fuller) will be able to come up to the high post and take that shot. She's been knocking it down pretty consistently. We really worked on pushing the basketball, getting to the rack and not settling for outside shots (in practice Friday).

"I think we've been settling for the outside shots because that's what they have been giving us. It's open for a reason because they say, ‘Prove to us you can make these shots.' We need to get into the paint, shorten it (the shot) and I think we'll be OK. And rebound. Oh my God. And hustle plays. Get the loose balls."

Tennessee also must be aware of the defensive presence of Mokango.

"Anything we brought in the middle she was like (Dikembe) Mutombo, you're not getting it here," Charles-Furlow said. "With her we've got to be able to get her up, shot fake, create some foul trouble."

The Lady Vols prefer to play man defense – especially with the bigger lineup in place – but will have the zone ready.

"We're going to have to have the zone ready but as you could see (against Kentucky) it didn't matter what we ran," Charles-Furlow said. "We're not in a stance and we were not talking and that's part of playing defense. If you're not communicating, you're going to have problems, and we had several problems. We weren't communicating, we were late, we were not all on the same page."

The team's inconsistency on both sides of the ball has been frustrating for the coaches, because they know how well the team can play.

"This has been happening to us all year long," Charles-Furlow said. "We'll have success, and then we'll fold. The system has been proven to work. It's not something Pat just threw together. You've got to believe it. You've got to embrace it."

Charles-Furlow doesn't know if the team will continue on the same wayward path or turn the proverbial corner.

"I would like to believe that they could because I still believe in these kids," Charles-Furlow said. "But it's really up to them to get it done or not. As much as I would love to have eligibility and go out and play it's not going to happen."

ON TAP: All 12 SEC teams are in action Sunday. The other matchups are: Alabama at Arkansas; Georgia at Auburn; South Carolina at Florida; Kentucky at LSU; and Vanderbilt at Ole Miss.

ODDS AND ENDS: Tennessee leads the series with Mississippi State, 29-0. The Lady Vols are 12-0 at home against the Bulldogs. … Tennessee is 12-3 in games played on February 22. The last win on this date was against Arkansas, 75-68, in 2007. The three losses were to Cincinnati, 29-9, in 1924; Western Carolina, 48-44, in 1972; and to LSU, 83-78, in 1997. … Mississippi State is looking for its first win against Tennessee and its first 20-season win since the 2002-03 season. The Bulldogs have won three of their last four games with victories over Vanderbilt, LSU and Ole Miss with a loss to Auburn. Tennessee has lost three of its last four games with a win over Alabama and losses to Florida, Duke and Kentucky. … Tennessee is trying to avoid a three-game losing streak. The Lady Vols lost back-to-back games for the first time since 2006 to Duke and Kentucky – ironically to the same two teams – and last lost three in a row in the 1985-86 season to Mississippi, Auburn and Louisiana Tech from Feb. 5 to Feb. 10. … Tennessee is closing in on 200,000 fans for the 2008-09 season with two home games left. The Lady Vols have surpassed 100,000 fans at home games for the last 15 consecutive years. A total of 179,996 folks have attended 13 games at home this season for an average of 13,846. A season-high 16,990 showed up for the Duke game Feb. 16. The home finale is March 1 against Vanderbilt. … BY THE NUMBERS: Tennessee is averaging 70.6 points per game and allowing 63.1 points. Mississippi State averages 69.8 points per game and allows 54.9. The Lady Vols are shooting 40.6 percent from the field overall, 31.9 percent from behind the arc and 66.6 percent from the free throw line. The Bulldogs are shooting 42.3 percent overall, 32.2 percent from long range and 69.1 percent from the line. Tennessee is averaging 43.6 rebounds a game with a +7.2 margin. Mississippi State is averaging 40.6 rebounds with a +5.1 margin. The Lady Vols average 13.2 assists and 17.2 turnovers a game. The Bulldogs average 15.4 assists and 16.1 turnovers. Tennessee averages 8.5 steals and 4.6 blocks a game. Mississippi State averages 10.7 steals and 6.6 blocks.

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