On the heels of two ugly wins to start the season, the Tennessee Lady Vols have their toughest test yet Monday night. It’s against a team from the same region of the country and in the same conference as the team they beat Friday.
Three days after defeating the defending co-American Athletic Conference regular season champions on the road from last year, the UCF Knights, Kellie Harper’s team will host the other team who won that league in the regular season last year while also winning the tournament. The USF Knights will head to Rocky Top Monday night.
While the Tennessee Lady Vols are ranked No. 16 in the AP Poll that was released Monday, dropping one spot, South Florida is No. 23, down two spots. They are No. 12 and No. 22 in the Coaches Poll, which will be released Tuesday, respectively. Here is all the information you need for this intriguing matchup.
- TV: SEC Network Plus
- Live stream: WatchESPN
- Radio: Lady Vol Network; Bull Unlimited
- Listen online: UTSports; iHeart.com
UT had to come back to beat the Southern Illinois Salukis last Wednesday 59-49 to open the season. They played that game amidst a slew of injuries. Jordan Horston missed the game due to an ankle injury, and it was less than two weeks after the news that returning starter Marta Suárez would miss the season due to a foot injury.
However, the bigger news in that game was Rae Burrell leaving in the second quarter due to a knee injury. She is out indefinitely, and without her but with Horston back, the Lady Vols had to hold off the UCF Knights 49-41 Friday on the road.
Now they face a USF team in its 21st season under head coach Jose Fernandez. Last year, they went 19-4 and made the second round of the NCAA Tournament. All five of their starters and nine of their top 10 rotational players are back for this year.
USF also has five newcomers, including two freshmen and three transfers, one of whom is averaging 12 points off the bench, graduate transfer Dulcy Fankam Mendjiadeu. However, despite this talent, they struggled last week as well, only winning their opener 63-56 over the Texas–Rio Grande Valley Vaqueros (UTRGV) before beating the Alabama State Hornets 72-37.
Simply put, there’s a reason both teams dropped in the AP Poll after last week. The Tennessee Lady Vols will certainly have their hands full in this one. Afterward, they won’t play again until Sunday at 1 p.m. ET, when they host the Texas Longhorns. USF will head to The Bahamas to tip off the Battle 4 Atlantis this weekend, starting Saturday afternoon against the Syracuse Orange.