Just as soon as the Tennessee Lady Vols got full strength again, another player goes down.
Tennessee coach Kellie Harper announced Tuesday that graduate center Keyen Green tore her anterior cruciate ligament in Sunday's win at Georgia and will miss the rest of the season.
Starter Tess Darby was back at practice Tuesday after missing Sunday's game due to COVID-19 protocols.
The No. 5 Lady Vols (18-1, 7-0 SEC) are on a nine-game win streak and will play at Auburn (8-10, 0-7) on Thursday (8 p.m. ET, SEC Network+) in a matchup of the top and bottom in the conference.
Here's what you need to know and a score prediction.
'A REALLY GRITTY WIN': Tennessee Lady Vols strong defensive identity surfaces vs Georgia
Don't let Auburn's record fool you
The Tigers may have started conference play on a losing streak, but let's take a look at the losses: to Alabama by three points, in overtime to Missouri by nine, to Florida by five, and by seven to Alabama.
The only two bad SEC losses have been to LSU (76-48) and Texas A&M (71-53).
Auburn has been able to play nearly every SEC opponent closely, and with an unblemished conference record, the target on Tennessee's back grows with every win.
The Tigers are also still working 6-foot-5 sophomore Precious Johnson into the mix. Johnson – who has started the last three games – transferred in October from Texas and enrolled at Auburn for the spring semester. Since being eligible to play, she has averaged 20.5 minutes, 5.3 points and 3.8 rebounds in four games.
Similar offensive production
Auburn has three guards who average double-digit scoring, led by Aicha Coulibaly, who averages 17.9 points and 8.1 rebounds. The Tigers are similar offensively to Tennessee – neither are big 3-point shooting teams. In SEC play, Auburn has averaged 29.7 points in the paint, 10.5 second-chance points and 15.3 points off of turnovers.
Tennessee has averaged 33.4 points in the paint, 15.3 second-chance points and 13.6 points off of turnovers in conference games.
The Tigers force an average of 17.5 turnovers and were able to score 24 points off turnovers against Missouri, which should be an area of emphasis for the Lady Vols, who average 17.5 turnovers per game.
Tennessee will have an edge when it comes to rebounding, particularly off the offensive glass. Auburn averages 38.4 rebounds per game and 12.8 offensive rebounds. UT averages a nation-leading 50.4 rebounds per game, 17.1 of them offensive – which is No. 2 in the country.
Lady Vols have locked down on defense
Tennessee is third in the SEC in scoring defense, allowing an average of 54.5 points, while outscoring opponents by an average of 17.1 points.
UT continues to lead the SEC and the nation in field-goal percentage defense, holding opponents to 30.7% shooting. The Lady Vols held Georgia to 18.8% shooting and only eight points in the fourth quarter. Tennessee was also able to force the Bulldogs into 18 turnovers, which it scored 25 points off of.
While the Lady Vols struggle with their own turnovers, their defense keeps them in games. UT had 15 turnovers before halftime against Georgia, but the halftime score was still 32-31 – only one point in Georgia's favor.
Tennessee 78, Auburn 57: While I think this game will start off being competitive, I don't see Auburn keeping up with Tennessee, which has more depth and has been scoring an average of 69.6 points in SEC play. The Lady Vols are also playing the best they have all season, which is saying something for a team with one loss.
This article originally appeared on Knoxville News Sentinel: Tennessee Lady Vols basketball vs. Auburn scouting report, score prediction