December 08, 2015

'T' is for Texas and Tennessee and Tough

Updated Dec 11: RPI ranks, Tennessee statistics

The Cardinal return to the court after finals break for two of their toughest nonconference games of the season — against opponents who defeated them last season.

They travel to Austin for the first game — against the University of Texas Longhorns. The game will be on Sunday, December 13 at 10:00 am Pacific Time. It will be televised by ESPN and broadcast by KZSU, with Live Stats here.

Then they return to Maples for their 33rd game against the Tennessee Lady Volunteers. The game will be on Wednesday evening at 6:00. It will be televised by ESPNU and broadcast by KZSU, with Live Stats here.

There will be a chalk talk before the Tennessee game and a Behind the Bench session in Maples after.

Lili scored 28 points against the Longhorns last season

  Texas Longhorns

The Longhorns were ranked high in the national polls last season (No. 3/3 for a couple of weeks) until injuries derailed them midway through the season. Fortunately, the players that were healthy enough to get the Longhorns to the Sweet 16 returned, most notably the post duo of 6-7 senior center Imani Boyette (née McGee-Stafford) and 6-5 junior center Kelsey Lang.

The Longhorns have started strong this season: a perfect 7-0 (one of 15 undefeated teams). Two of their wins were by a decent margin against Top 10 teams: No. 8/8 Mississippi State (53-47) and No. 9/9 Tennessee (64-53). They are currently ranked No. 5/6. Their RPI rank is 48 and their schedule strength rank is 284.

The Longhorns' primary strength is their defense. They've allowed their opponents just 48.7 points per game (sixth-best in the nation) and held them to just .328 field goal percentage (16th-best in the nation).

Their defense has led to a good amount of offense: an average of 72.6 points per game.

The Longhorns have four 9+ scorers. They're led by Boyette with 13.6 ppg. She also has the most rebounds (8.9 rpg) and blocks (1.9 bpg). Close behind are 5-4 sophomore guard Brooke McCarty (13.0 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 2.7 apg), 5-9 junior guard Brianna Taylor (9.7 ppg, 4.4 rpg) and 5-9 freshman guard Lashann Higgs (9.1 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 1.9 spg) .

The Longhorns score 60% of their points from the inside and 20% from beyond the arc. McCarty is their most productive 3-point shooter with an average of 1.9 per game at a rate of 42%.

The remaining points come from free throws, which they make at at rate of 65.0%.

Here are Texas' statistics and roster.

  Tennessee Lady Vols

They Lady Vols lost their three double-digits scorers from last season to graduation. But they gained 6-1 sophomore guard Diamond DeShields, who sat out last season after her transfer from North Carolina, and 6-6 sophomore center Mercedes Russell, who missed last season due to surgery on both feet. They join a solid returning core of 6-2 senior forward Bashaara Graves, 5-11 junior guard Jordan Reynolds and 5-9 junior guard Andraya Carter and top-rated 5-8 freshman point guard Te'a Cooper, giving coach Holly Warlick the most talented team she has had in her four seasons in charge of the Lady Vols.

In spite of dealing with leg injuries, DeShields leads the Lady Vols in scoring (13.6 ppg) and assists (2.9 apg).

Russell is the leading shot-blocker (2.2 bpg) and the second-best rebounder (9.2 rpg) and scorer (12.1 ppg). She makes 53% of her shots.

Graves comes in a strong third in scoring (12.0 ppg) with a dazzling .725 field goal percentage. She also grabs the most rebounds (9.5 rpg).

Cooper's playing time has been limited a bit by foul trouble and turnovers, but she still averages 10.9 points, 2.6 assists and 2.2 steals per game.

The Lady Vols score 66% of their points from the inside and 17% from beyond the arc. DeShields is their most productive 3-point shooter with an average of 1.3 per game at a rate of 29%.

The remaining points come from free throws, which they make at at rate of 72.5%.

The Lady Vols started well this season, but have been hit hard by the injury bug and faltered lately. They've played two ranked teams: Squeaked past No. 25 Syracuse 57-55 early in the season, but lost to No. 8/8 Texas 53-64 two weeks ago and to unranked Virginia Tech last week. In their most recent game, they pulled out a win in the last few minutes of a close game against a one-win Wichita State team playing without its leading scorer.

They are now 7-2 and ranked No. 16/15. Their RPI rank is 17 and their schedule strength rank is 9.

Here are Tennessee's statistics and roster.

Team by Team Comparison

Points scored per game 72.6 72.6 66.0
Points allowed per game 48.7 59.0 55.7
% of total points from beyond the arc .20 .39 .17
% of total points from the inside .60 .42 .66
% of total points from free throws .20 .19 .17
Field goal % .449 .414 .411
3-pointers per game 4.9 9.4 3.7
3-point % .370 .398 .232
Free throw % .650 .716 .725
Rebounds per game 43.9 42.6 40.1
Rebounds allowed per game 30.6 41.7 34.6
Assists per game 14.0 14.7 14.7
Turnovers per game 15.9 15.4 17.7
Assist/turnover ratio 0.88 0.95 0.83
Steals per game 7.7 6.9 12.0
Blocks per game 3.9 5.9 3.9
Win-Loss Record 7-0 6-1 7-2
National polls 5/6 14/12 16/15
RPI rank 48 2 17
Schedule strength rank 284 7 9

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