The Florida women’s basketball team will travel on Thursday to Knoxville to take on Tennessee for the second of two meetings this season, as the regular season enters it’s final weekend. Both teams have two games left in their conference schedule before the SEC Tournament begins next week in Greenville, South Carolina.
The two teams faced off on Jan. 26th in Gainesville, with the Lady Vols coming away with the 84-75 victory.
The Gators did well to limit Tennessee’s star center, Mercedes Russell, holding her to just 14 points and five rebounds, but they struggled to contain Diamond DeShields and Jamie Nared. DeShields went off for 27 points on 9-for-13 shooting from the field, and Nared put up 16 points including draining three shots from beyond the arc.
Florida did have a few positives in that game though. Ronni Williams had one of her best games of the season, leading all scorers with 31 points including 11 makes from the free-throw line. Haley Lorenzen pitched in with a double-double and the Gators did well on the boards, out-rebounding one of the better rebounding teams in the conference by a 42-30 margin.
Florida is 3-4 since that meeting, entering this contest with 13-14 record overall and 4-10 in the SEC. They’ve lost their past two games, including their last game, at Kentucky by a score of 67-48.
While that scoring output may seem low, the Gators are focused on making corrections on the defensive side of the ball. They’ve given up over 70 points in four of the games since the Tennessee meeting, including allowing 74 at home in last week’s loss to Missouri. Florida guard Dyandria Anderson said that the team is focused on making defensive adjustments, and that the scoring will solve itself.
The main player responsible for providing those points is senior forward Ronni Williams. Williams has had a great senior campaign, as she leads the SEC in scoring with 18.6 points per game and is eighth in the conference in rebounding with 7.9 boards per game. That impressive regular season is coming to a close though, with only one away game and one home game left in her final season. Williams said that the feeling of the season coming to a close is bittersweet, but she’s also excited for the “next chapter in my life.”
The Lady Vols enter this game with a 17-10 record and 8-6 in the SEC, but have lost three out of their past five games. Their last game was a 59-46 win at home over Arkansas.
Florida contained Mercedes Russell last time, but she’s a force to be reckoned with down low. She ranks in the top 10 in the SEC in both scoring and rebounding, averaging 16.6 points and 9.4 rebounds per game.
On the wings, the Lady Vols boast Jamie Nared and Diamond DeShields. They both torched Florida last time they played, and can both knock down shots from the perimeter. DeShields is third in the SEC in scoring with 17.3 points per game, while Nared is averaging 15.3 points per game. In addition, Nared is knocking down treys at a clip of 36.9%, placing her among the top 15 in that category in the conference.
The facilitator behind all of this is guard Jordan Reynolds; her 4.6 assists per game are third best in the conference, and help make sure the ball keeps moving on a team full of scorers.
Tip off from Knoxville is set for 7 pm and you can hear the game live on ESPN 98.1 FM/850 AM WRUF.