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Indiana women’s basketball: Previewing Tennessee

Everything you need to know before the Hoosiers’ road test @ No. 11 Tennessee

Indiana Hoosiers forward Lilly Meister (52) plays against... Photo by Jeremy Hogan/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Indiana women’s basketball is 2-0 after a pair of bouts with America East Conference squads in Assembly Hall. The twelfth-ranked Hoosiers will play on the road for the first time tonight when they pay a visit to the eleventh-ranked Tennessee Volunteers. Here’s everything you need to know before tipoff in Knoxville:

Who are the Volunteers?

The No. 11 Volunteers are 1-1 on the year with a road loss at No. 14 Ohio State in their opener on 11/8 and a home victory over UMass on 11/10. The 87-75 loss to OSU is notable, but not a shocker by any means. The Vols turned the ball over 29 times, and the Buckeyes pulled away thanks to a monster 18-0 run in the second half. OSU’s Taylor Mikesell was the best player on the court, scoring 25 points to help catapult the Buckeyes into eighth place in the AP poll. The loss dropped the Volunteers from fifth to eleventh.

As per usual, Tennessee had a nice 2021-22 season. They finished 25-9 and made the Sweet Sixteen for the 35th time, their first SS appearance under fourth-year head coach Kellie Harper. They got bounced from the dance by Louisville, but bring back their most important pieces, including:

Jordan Horston, Senior G

Horston, a 2022 first-team all-SEC honoree, led the Volunteers in scoring with 16.2 points per game a year ago. She’s scored 25 points off 7-18 shooting so far this season.

Sara Puckett, Sophomore G/F

Puckett was a member of the 2022 SEC all-Freshman team. She has six rebounds in just 16 minutes this season. Her usage will be something to watch for tonight.

Tamari Key, Senior C

Key made the SEC all-Defensive team in 2022 and was first on the team in blocks (119) and rebounds (276). She’s shooting 60% from the field through two games this year.

Key and Horston were named to the preseason all-SEC team last month, and Senior forward Rickea Jackson was a second teamer. Kellie Harper was named Preseason Coach of the Year as well.

Indiana’s defense

Lost in the craze of highlight reel offensive plays is the stifling defense the Hoosiers have played so far this season. They’re averaging five blocks and a ridiculous 13.5 steals per game through two games:

Twelve Hoosiers have recorded at least one steal so far this season, and Freshman guard Lexus Bargesser leads the team with six. Junior guard Sydney Parrish also has five steals.

The play of Bargesser and Parrish off the bench will be crucial tonight in taking advantage of a Volunteer offense that’s been careless with the ball for stretches this season. Tennessee’s averaging 23.5 turnovers per game, will in line with Indiana’s opponents’ average of 24.

All of Indiana’s available players have enjoyed time on the court so far this season, but that will probably change tonight. It will be interesting to see just how much Indiana head coach Teri Moren shrinks the rotation, you can pencil us with a prediction of nine players seeing meaningful time tonight.

In-season tourney szn

After tonight’s game, the Volunteers will shift their focus towards the 2022 Bad Boy Mowers Women’s Battle 4 Atlantis. They’ll play their third Big Ten foe of the season in Rutgers in the first round of the eight-team tournament. No. 3 Texas, No. 7 Louisville, and No. 23 South Dakota State will also be participating in the event, which will run from November 19-21.

Indiana, on the other hand, will host Bowling Green on Thursday and Quinnipiac on Sunday before heading to the Las Vegas Invitational. The Hoosiers will play Auburn on Friday, November 25th and Memphis on Saturday the 26th in two standalone games.

In-season tournaments are always fun, and they typically showcase some of the best non-con basketball we’ll see ‘til March. Indiana’s games will be streamed online via FloHoops, while Tennessee’s will be broadcast on ESPN.