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With its fourth SEC win, No. 8 Tennessee (15-1, 4-0 SEC) is off to its best conference start since beginning 13-0 in 2014-15 en route to a 15-1 SEC regular-season title. The Lady Vols have beaten SEC opponents by an average of 11.3 points. Tennessee coach Kellie Harper remains undefeated against Ole Miss (13-2, 1-1 SEC), improving to 5-0.
Although Tennessee struggled to contain projected WNBA first-round draft pick Shakira Austin, who scored 26 points, few other Rebels had success on offense. The Lady Vols' nation-leading field-goal percentage defense held Ole Miss to 33.9% shooting.
Tamari Key had a quieter game than usual, with six points and seven rebounds, but by establishing herself as a consistent offensive threat this season, her presence on the court opened the floor for her teammates. Jordan Horston led the team with 20 points, adding 11 rebounds for her seventh double-double of the season, and Alexus Dye had 17 points and Tess Darby 13.
Lady Vols dominate offensive boards
Tennessee didn't get off to the best shooting start, but the Lady Vols made up for it on offensive rebounds.
On one possession late in the quarter, Rae Burrell drew a foul and went to the line. She made the first and missed the second, but Keyen Green grabbed the rebound. Green went back up and drew a foul on her made shot. Green made the free throw, completing a four-point possession for Tennessee.
UT shot just 5-of-15 from the floor, but had six offensive rebounds in the quarter, leading to seven second-chance points.
Offensive boards are perhaps Tennessee's greatest strength – going into Sunday's game, the Lady Vols were getting offensive rebounds on 47.5% of their missed shots. Tennessee ended with 16 offensive rebounds to score 20 second-chance points.
Aggressive drives lead to offense
Tennessee was aggressive in attacking the basket, and the consistent drives contributed to one of the best offensive halves of the season for UT, which scored 39 points in the first two quarters.
Not all the drives were scoring finishes – like a Jordan Walker drive that led to a short kickout to Alexus Dye for a wide-open mid-range jumper. But the Lady Vols opened up the floor for their offense or gave themselves second chances off the offensive glass.
Jordan Horston and Alexus Dye dominate second half
Tennessee's offense was on a roll after halftime, largely thanks to Horston and Dye. They combined for 22 points in the last two quarters.
Dye started the third quarter with back-to-back buckets, and Horston scored a three-point play after drawing the foul shortly after that. Once Dye and Horston got going, they were hard to stop. They created offensive momentum for the Lady Vols, and went on a 6-0 run between themselves in the fourth.
Tennessee plays at Vanderbilt on Thursday (9 p.m. ET, SEC Network) before returning home Jan. 16 against Kentucky.
This article originally appeared on Knoxville News Sentinel: Tennessee Lady Vols beat Ole Miss