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Kentucky Wildcats 75 at Tennessee Volunteers 71: Hoops Postmortem

Kentucky women's basketball got its season back on track today in Knoxville, a very unlikely place to get a huge win.

John Reed-USA TODAY Sports

The Kentucky Wildcats defeat the Tennessee Volunteers for the first time ever in Thompson-Boling Arena this afternoon, and may have just turned their season around. No, the Wildcats are probably out of the SEC regular-season race, but right now, much like the men, they just need to focus on getting better in time for the tournament.

This was a much-improved effort by the Wildcats over SEC games earlier this season. This time, Kentucky's defense was worth of its "40 minutes of dread" moniker, made a late charge, and held on to win the game by four points.

Team Observations

  • Kentucky has been more focused in every aspect over the last couple of games, and it looks like they are now finished with the shooting funk that plagued them all through January.

  • The interior defense seems to be back to its former self, with UK getting their hands on a lot of balls inside despite being much smaller than Tennessee.

  • The Vols had non-existent perimeter shooting and Kentucky really made them pay for that.

  • Transition defense was excellent today, and transition offense was much better than it has been.

  • Kentucky's big girls need to do a better job of denying post passes. Tennessee got it into the post far too easily today.

  • Kentucky has to do a better job of staying out of foul trouble.

Individual Observations

  • Jennifer O'Neil was terrific today. She started off cold, but she doesn't remember shots and just kept putting it up. Of course, they began to go in.

  • DeNesha Stallworth has returned to form. She scored around 17 points and had six or seven rebounds, more or less.

  • Janee Thompson had possibly her best game of the year, getting into the lane and making short shots. She also made here free throws, for the most part.

  • Bria Goss had an okay game, but she couldn't locate many open looks.

  • Azia Bishop seemed to struggle with fouls today, as did Samari Walker.

  • We didn't see much of Mackayla Epps today.

  • Jelleah Sidney did pretty much what she always does, but she got into foul trouble.

  • Linnae Harper just keeps getting better. She made a couple of great plays today, and she always brings the energy.

All in all, this was a big win for the Kentucky program, a hoop that the Wildcats have not been able to jump through since the mid-1980's, and never in Thompson-Boling Arena. Kentucky now goes to 7-5 in the league, and Tennessee to 9-3. Absent a collpse by South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas A&M, Kentucky won't win the SEC regular-season, although they made a statement today for the tournament and can get their seed up quite a bit if they continue to play well.

The opportunities to excel just keep on coming, as #5 South Carolina is up next on Thursday in Memorial Coliseum.