Tennessee Lady Vols basketball vs. Virginia Tech: Scouting report, score prediction

·3 min read

Tennessee women's basketball will have a tough road challenge to stay undefeated at Virginia Tech.

The No. 10 Lady Vols (7-0) play the Hokies (7-1) on Sunday (2 p.m., ACC Network) at Cassell Coliseum in Blacksburg, Virginia.

Here’s what you need to know and my prediction.

THANKSGIVING PARADISE: Lady Vols and Vols basketball will travel to Bahamas to compete in Battle 4 Atlantis 2022

UNDEFEATED START: Tess Darby, Alexus Dye help Tennessee Lady Vols roll past Tennessee Tech

JORDAN HORSTON: Jordan Horston hasn't changed anything. Her confidence has always been there for Lady Vols.

Hokies have size matchup for Tamari Key

For the first time this season, Tennessee will face a team that has every inch to match up with the 6-foot-6 Tamari Key. Virginia Tech is led by 6-6 center Elizabeth Kitley, who averages 19.6 points per game and 9.4 rebounds. The junior scored a career-high 34 points at George Washington on Nov. 11, setting a program record of 17 made field goals.

The Hokies rely heavily on Kitley's offensive production. She has scored 26.5% of the team's total points.

Key has consistently improved her defense all season, limiting her fouls and staying on the court when Tennessee needs her. Matching up with Kitley for four quarters will be a true test of how much Key has improved.

Shooters to stretch the defense

To compliment Kitley's post presence, Virginia Tech has several 3-point shooters. Over 40% of Virginia Tech's scoring comes from 3-pointers, and the Hokies are led by Aisha Sheppard.

The 5-9 graduate guard is shooting 42.1% from 3-point range, and is second on the team in scoring with 12.5 points per game. Sheppard has 24 made 3-pointers, which is one more than Tennessee has made as a team. Cayla King is right behind Sheppard with 20 made 3-pointers on 47.6% shooting.

Virginia Tech presents a challenge to Tennessee's defense, which has only allowed 52.9 points per game. With three high percentage 3-point shooters to pressure and one of the best centers in the country to worry about, Virginia Tech may be Tennessee's toughest defensive challenge yet.

Tennessee forward Alexus Dye (2) looks to the basket while guarded by Tennessee Tech forward Mackenzie Coleman (33) in the NCAA women's basketball game between the Tennessee Lady Vols and Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles in Knoxville, Tenn. on Wednesday, December 1, 2021.
Tennessee forward Alexus Dye (2) looks to the basket while guarded by Tennessee Tech forward Mackenzie Coleman (33) in the NCAA women's basketball game between the Tennessee Lady Vols and Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles in Knoxville, Tenn. on Wednesday, December 1, 2021.

You can't count out Tennessee

The Lady Vols have played through adversity and come out the other side without a loss. Besides the challenge of replacing All-SEC performer Rennia Davis, Tennessee had to replace Marta Suárez before the season even started. Rae Burrell was injured in the season opener and hasn't played since.

But the Lady Vols have found a way, even through three games in which they entered the fourth quarter behind. Tennessee is 2-0 over ranked teams and has steadily improved its offense. Jordan Horston and Key have been staples for the Lady Vols, with Horston averaging 17.7 points and 10 rebounds. Key has had three double-doubles and a triple-double.

With a career-high performance from Tess Darby and 20 points from Alexus Dye against Tennessee Tech on Wednesday, Tennessee proved its offensive depth. In the last four games, Tennessee has scored an average of 74.5 points.

WEEK THREE: How Lady Vols writer Cora Hall voted in the AP Top 25: who's in, who's out after week three

Prediction

Tennessee 70, Virginia Tech 64: As much of a battle it will be in the paint, I have a feeling this is also going to be a shootout. It will be difficult to significantly limit Virginia Tech's multiple offensive threats, so Tennessee will have to get ahead and stay ahead, and hope it can keep Kitley contained.

Cora Hall covers University of Tennessee women's athletics. Email her at cora.hall@knoxnews.com and follow her on Twitter @corahalll.

This article originally appeared on Knoxville News Sentinel: Scouting report for Tennessee Lady Vols basketball vs. Virginia Tech

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting