Just when it appeared that the wheels were close to coming off of the Tennessee season, the Lady Vols have regrouped with three straight wins, including wins over Florida and No. 2 Mississippi State last week in earning NCAA.com Team of the Week honors.
The only team to have appeared in all 35 NCAA tournaments, Tennessee, 19-10 overall and 10-6 in the Southeastern Conference (SEC), earned the No. 5 seed and have the look of a dangerous team for the upcoming conference tournament.
In a 74-70 win over Florida on Feb. 23, Mercedes Russell led the Lady Vols offense, getting her 16th double-double of the season, with 17 points and 10 rebounds, while Diamond DeShields just missed a triple-double, posting 15 points, 10 rebounds and a career-high nine assists.
Tennessee then earned one of the biggest wins of the Holly Warlick era on Sunday, defeating No. 2 Mississippi State, 82-64 in front of a sellout crowd of 10,500 in Starkville, Miss. It was the first home loss for the Bulldogs this season. Jaime Nared paved the way for Tennessee’s offense, dropping a career-high 30 points and nine rebounds. DeShields posted an all-around performance with 20 points, six assists and five rebounds. Jordan Reynolds also had a productive game, tying her career high in points with 17 to go along with eight rebounds and three assists.
The win over Mississippi State was Tennessee's fourth this season over a top-10 team and first against a top-3 squad. The Tennessee program had not enjoyed a victory over a top-3 opponent on the road since a No. 2 Lady Vols squad took down No. 1 Duke on Jan. 24, 2004, 72-69.
Tennessee will head to Greenville, S.C., next to compete in the SEC Tournament. The Lady Vols will face the winner of the #12 Alabama and #13 Vanderbilt in the second round on March 2.
Honorable mention teams of the week: Belmont, Colorado State, George Washington, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Penn, Radford, Stetson and Western Illinois.