After the Tennessee Lady Vols beat the Missouri Tigers Thursday night, the women’s basketball Volunteers showed they could be consistent for 40 minutes.
They have won five out of six games. Their only loss was a fluke one on the road in double-overtime. And they beat a Top 5 team on the road. Could we be seeing a return to the Tennessee Lady Vols of old?
You know, the ones who are traditionally supposed to dominate the SEC and only think about what happens once they get to the Final Four?
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Okay, so maybe it’s premature to think about that when they trailed the Missouri Tigers at home at halftime Thursday night and did lose to the Georgia Bulldogs.
But the Missouri game was a culmination of the overall body of work they have the past six games, and it has lessened the big concern everybody in Knoxville had about this team: inconsistency.
With Diamond DeShields and Mercedes Russell, this team is clearly talented. They have shown they can beat anybody also.
But, perhaps due to lack of depth and only running seven players, they have shown no ability to look the same for even two quarters in a game.
Thursday night, however, was a different story. The Tennessee Lady Vols did trail the Missouri Tigers at halftime. That’s only because their only bad quarter in the game was the second quarter.
And they lost that quarter by eight points, so it’s not like it was a complete collapse like they have been seeing.
They still outscored the Tigers by three in the first quarter, five in the third quarter, and then 11 in a dominating fourth quarter.
So even with the second quarter struggles, it was a consistent game overall.
What about that heartbreaking loss to the Georgia Bulldogs on the road Sunday? Well, they did have a bad start, as the first quarter was their worst quarter. But again, Georgia only outscored them by eight that quarter.
A bad quarter is natural in every game.
Tennessee then outscored the Dawgs by five in two quarters, and they lost by two in the fourth. Then they lost in double-overtime.
So they didn’t give up any huge runs.
This all shows that consistency is the biggest reason the Tennessee Lady Vols are on a hot streak. And they put that on display like never before Thursday night.
Earlier in the year, they were doing the opposite. Most infamous was when they followed up a Notre Dame win with a blowout loss to the Auburn Tigers.
And remember when they beat Kentucky and Stanford but lost to Ole Miss?
Again, you could say the same thing about the loss to Georgia in the midst of the streak.
But a fluke road loss in the SEC like that in double-overtime can happen. By and large, this team is finally learning to be consistent. And they showed that on full display Thursday night.
This is probably what Holly Warlick has been begging for, and while we have criticized here a lot in the past, she now deserves some credit for developing this recent consistency.