Lady Vols, Vandy square off Sunday

Vicki Baugh

The Lady Vols look to get back on track in the SEC on Sunday against in-state rival Vanderbilt. Go inside with Inside Tennessee for the pre-game story, starters and scouting report.

Vicki Baugh wants to be a coach once her playing days are over, so she was asked to think ahead: What would she tell this team coming off the loss to Kentucky and heading into the game with Vanderbilt?

"We have to go out there; it's not going to come to us," Baugh said. "We have to be determined to play a whole basketball game for 40 minutes.

"Because talent-wise we're there. And that's been one of the most frustrating things. We should be blowing teams out and we've been keeping teams close.

"I would tell us that we need to mature, and it has to be quick, because it is getting down to crunch time."

No. 6/7 Tennessee (12-4, 3-1) takes on No. 25/24 Vanderbilt (14-2, 2-1) at 2 p.m. Eastern (SEC Network) on Sunday at Thompson-Boling Arena.

The Lady Vols lost their first conference game in nearly two years with the 61-60 defeat at Kentucky and now have four losses on a season that started with talk of the first Final Four since 2008 and championships.

They remain solidly in the hunt – a lot of hoops remain to be played – but the focus has narrowed considerably.

"I think after our meeting (Friday), we are pretty focused on one game at a time," Associate Head Coach Holly Warlick said. "We are just trying to stay in the moment. That's what we are stressing right now.

"There is nothing we can do about looking down the road or what we did at Kentucky. We've got to figure out what we are doing right now."

"We learned one thing and that is just to take it game by game," Baugh said. "We're just going to slow down. Holly said we are not going to even mention Final Four, national championship.

"Because we have to handle today and what is coming right now. We are just taking it game by game and knowing that we're going to have to bring our ‘A' game at all times no matter who we play."

It typically starts with defense and finding someone who can consistently pressure the ball. Glory Johnson remains the best on-ball defender, but she has also been the one healthy post player for four years so she logs the bulk of her minutes in the paint.

Kamiko Williams can be a sticky defender, but the combo guard just returned last week from ACL rehab so she is getting back to game speed.

"Miko is getting back," Baugh said. "She is not as mobile right now, but she is getting back, and she has definitely been one of the best defenders on the team.

"And also Glory. So we do have (defensive stoppers), but I think that comes with holding each other accountable and people knowing their roles and understanding their roles."

The coaches are seeking consistency on both ends from all five spots on the floor instead of having to scramble at times from game to game to find a combo that will compete offensively and defensively.

"We have to keep drilling it and drilling it," Warlick said. "We are holding them accountable in practice, and it will click."

PROBABLE STARTERS

Tennessee Coach Pat Summitt is expected to start: Ariel Massengale, 5'6 freshman guard, No. 5 (8.4 points per game, 2.7 rebounds per game, 4.9 assists per game); Meighan Simmons, 5'9 sophomore guard, No. 10 (10.4 ppg, 2.4 rpg); Shekinna Stricklen, 6'2 senior guard/forward, No. 40 (15.3 ppg, 6.6 rpg); Alicia Manning, 6'1 senior guard/forward, No. 15 (4.6 ppg, 4.8 rpg); and Glory Johnson, 6'3 senior forward, No. 25 (14.4 ppg, 9.7 rpg).

Vanderbilt Coach Melanie Balcomb is expected to start: Jasmine Lister, 5'4 sophomore guard, No. 11 (12.6 ppg, 2.6 rpg, 5.6 apg), hails from Corona, Calif., has been honored once this season as SEC player of the week, tallied 24 points against Oklahoma, had six assists against Sam Houston State, twin sister Cinnamon plays basketball for Boise State; Kady Schrann, 5'9 freshman guard, No. 5 (7.9 ppg, 2.0 rpg), hails from York, Pa., tallied 20 points, six assists this season against High Point, logged career-high 39 minutes against South Carolina, was a standout cross country runner in high school; Christina Foggie, 5'9 sophomore guard, No. 10 (17.3 ppg, 2.8 rpg), hails from Mt. Laurel, N.J., has scored 27 points three times this season, most recently against Auburn on Thursday with 22 points coming in the second half, has earned SEC player of the week honors twice this season; Elan Brown, 6'0 junior guard, No. 30 (6.3 ppg, 5.9 rpg), hails from Atlanta, Ga., had a career-high four blocks against Ole Miss, also grabbed eight boards, had career-high five assists against N.C. State; and Stephanie Holzer, 6'4 redshirt sophomore center, No. 21 (11.3 ppg, 6.8 rpg), hails from Newton Square, Pa., tallied 15 points, eight boards against N.C. State, reigning SEC Sixth Woman of the Year, sister Katie played basketball for Richmond.

That was Balcomb's lineup for the first 15 games of the season, but Tiffany Clarke, a 6'0 junior forward from Duluth, Ga., started against Auburn after Schrann rolled her ankle earlier in the week in practice, and Schrann come off the bench in a limited role. Clarke has played in all 16 games this season and averages 10.7 points and 7.3 rebounds a game. She has averaged 14.7 points and 8.3 boards in league play.

Gabby Smith, a 5'10 junior guard from Cincinnati, Ohio, sustained a concussion in practice in preseason and missed the exhibition game and season opener. She returned Nov. 14 for the Western Illinois game, had a reoccurrence of symptoms and was out for six weeks. Smith didn't play again until the South Carolina game on Jan. 5. She is averaging 16.8 minutes a game.

Smith comes from an athletic family. Her father, James Smith, played football at Ball State University, brother Zachary played football at Purdue, brother Shane currently plays lacrosse at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and sister Julianne plays basketball at the University of Charleston in West Virginia.

Vanderbilt's Clair Watkins, a 6'4 redshirt freshman forward from Charlotte, N.C., and Tennessee's Cierra Burdick, a 6'2 freshman forward, both played for Butler High School, where they won a state title in 2010. In another Tennessee connection, Watkins played for the Candace Parker Aces, an Adidas Grassroots Global travel team affiliated with the former Lady Vol All-American.

Watkins also was a four-time state champion in high school in the shot put.

She missed last season with the Commodores after tearing her ACL in preseason. Watkins has played in 16 games this season and averages 4.3 points and 2.8 rebounds in 10.8 minutes per game.

BOUNCE BACK: Vicki Baugh got a big scare after she went down late in the Kentucky game and felt pain around her thrice-surgically repaired left knee.

A tight hamstring has been bothersome all season, and she felt a jolt there that felt "really weird," Baugh said.

"I was trying to help on defense, and I fell," Baugh said. "All I did was feel something near my knee and feel a quick pop and got scared immediately."

Jenny Moshak, the team's chief of sports medicine, jumped off the bench and waited for time to be called – it's a technical foul if she comes onto the court while play is live – before rushing to the other end. Shekinna Stricklen immediately motioned for Moshak because Baugh's first instinct was to grab her left knee. She later realized the odd sensation came from her hamstring.

As Baugh headed to the bench she told Moshak, "I'm OK. I'm OK."

"When I got up and realized I could move it and put pressure on it, I was good," Baugh said. "I just had a little scare."

Baugh had one of her best games of the season with 16 points, nine rebounds, one block, one steal and zero turnovers in 29 minutes of play.

Both Holly Warlick and Mickie DeMoss said the team needs consistency from Baugh from game to game.

"It's up and down right now," Warlick said. "Vicki has got to get that mind-set."

"I am trying to play smarter," Baugh said. "I don't have my best games when I get in early foul trouble. Plain and simple. So I have just been trying to stay out of foul trouble.

"I didn't have early fouls that game, and I was able to play, get more reps and just get more comfortable on the floor."

Baugh has been coming off the bench since the Christmas break after struggling in the mid-December games, and she said she is prepared for any role.

To date, Baugh has 91 career games with just 20 starts. By comparison Stricklen has started 120 consecutive games.

Baugh came off the bench in her freshman year behind Candace Parker and Nicky Anosike, and has been hindered by injury in the two other truncated seasons, appearing in just 38 games and often for very limited minutes.

"I've never really been a starter throughout my career," Baugh said. "The bench or starting doesn't bother me, because with Pat, whoever goes in and gives it their all and shows up to play is going to be in the game."

Alicia Manning and Baugh flipped spots in the starting lineup. Taber Spani had started 10 games this season, but she has been sidelined by a bone bruise in her left knee and is out Sunday.

"We miss her offensive presence," Warlick said of Spani. "And she was playing well on the defensive end, too. It's a total day-to-day thing. It is what it is.

"The last four years we've been injury-prone. You've got to accept it. There is nothing else you can do."

"I think A-Town brings great energy," Baugh said. "She starts us off early with energy, and that is how we need to be."

SCOUTING REPORT: Holly Warlick handled the scouting report for the Tennessee-Vanderbilt game. Here is her assessment.

Offensively, the Commodores will present a variety of offensive looks, the trademark of Melanie Balcomb's program.

"We have a lot of respect for Melanie and what she does offensively," Warlick said. "Very disciplined. Very well taught. They read (the defense) and adjust. It's not so much the patterns that they run. They make great reads. We're going to have to be ready for everything.

"They adjust to what the defense does. That is why they are such a hard team to defend. They are very disciplined in what she wants done. They get to their spots quickly. They just don't make a lot of mistakes."

The Commodores leading scorer is Christina Foggie, who is hitting 49 percent of her shots overall and 51 percent from behind the arc.

"She is having a great year," Warlick said. "I think what is difficult about her is she shoots the three consistently, and she can penetrate. Those type of players are very difficult to defend."

Vandy is not likely to want to engage in a track meet with Tennessee, whereas the Lady Vols want to score in transition.

"I would think they would want to slow the game up a little bit, score and set a press," Warlick said.

Defensively, the Commodores are likely to drop to three-quarter court in that pressure as opposed to extending it for 94 feet.

"They will mix it up," Warlick said of Vandy's overall schemes. "Man, sagging man, zone, 2-3, 3-2, very active. They want to contain and slow you down."

Warlick sees a more physical brand of basketball, too.

"Their post players are physical," Warlick said. "They have to be because they are in the SEC."

Keys for Tennessee: "Take care of the ball and make layups," Warlick said with a smile. "That should be a staple for us.

"We're playing in spurts. If we can just level out and maintain our consistency offensively and defensively, we'll be a great team."

SEC PLAY: All 12 SEC teams are in action today. The other matchups are: Ole Miss at Alabama; Auburn at Arkansas; LSU at Florida; Georgia at Mississippi State; and Kentucky at South Carolina.

Sunday also kicks off a weeklong campaign in the league, women and men, to support the Pat Summitt Foundation with a "We Back Pat" initiative.

The awareness campaign will be a part of 17 women's games and 12 men's games with 20 of the games being televised.

Information is available: at the SEC'S WEBSITE.

ODDS AND ENDS

Tennessee leads the series with Vanderbilt, 58-7. The Lady Vols are 26-0 in Knoxville. The series began in 1976 in Nashville. Of the Commodores' seven wins, two were at neutral sites and five came at home, the most recent on Jan. 11, 2009, by a score of 74-58. Tennessee has won the last six – three at home, two on the road and one on a neutral court. Tennessee is 11-0 in games played on January 15. The last win on this date was against Vanderbilt, 68-56, in 2011. The first win on January 15 came against Middle Tennessee, no score available, in 1971.

VIDEO COVERAGE

Inside Tennessee was at SEC Media Day last October and asked player representatives from the other 11 SEC schools some offbeat questions.

Here are the responses of Vanderbilt's Tiffany Clarke.

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