The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
Since 1888
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.

Vanderbilt hits the road to face in-state rival Tennessee Lady Volunteers

The Commodores will look to beat Tennessee on Sunday and improve to 18-2 on the season.
Jordyn+Cambridge+goes+for+a+layup%2C+as+photographed+on+Jan.+7%2C+2023.+%28Hustler+Multimedia%2FVince+Lin%29
Vince Lin
Jordyn Cambridge goes for a layup, as photographed on Jan. 7, 2023. (Hustler Multimedia/Vince Lin)

After barely beating Auburn 53-50 in Memorial Gymnasium on Thursday, Vanderbilt will travel to Knoxville, Tenn. to square off against rival Tennessee on Sunday, Jan. 21. The Commodores have been dominant in SEC play thus far and will look to build their resume with a win against the Lady Volunteers. However, this will be Vanderbilt’s toughest test so far in conference play, and the Commodores will need to limit turnovers and play clean basketball to knock off an impressive Tennessee squad.  

Tennessee has had a great start to SEC play, currently holding a 3-1 record. However, the Lady Volunteers have faced plenty of adversity this season. Tennessee lost to four ranked opponents in the nonconference portion of their schedule, eventually falling to 4-5 at one point this season. Nevertheless, Tennessee has clawed their way back to a commendable 11-6 record after winning six of its past seven games.

This recent success has been largely due to Tennessee’s high-scoring offense. The Lady Volunteers have the third highest scoring offense in the SEC and have five players averaging double-digit points per game. 

Tennessee is led by starting forward Rickea Jackson. She will be the biggest threat to the Commodores on offense and defense, averaging 19.3 points and 8.8 rebounds per game. Jackson is primarily dangerous in the paint, so Sacha Washington and Khamil Pierre will need to guard her tight on the inside and force her to take contested shots. Tennessee’s frontcourt is bolstered by Karoline Striplin who averages 10.4 points per game. When Striplin and Jackson play at the same time, the pair could wreak havoc for Vanderbilt’s defense. 

Tennessee’s backcourt is equally impressive. Guards Jewel Spear and Sara Puckett are elite scorers, averaging over 11 points per game this season. Most importantly, Jasmine Powell is the primary point guard for the Lady Volunteers, acting as the facilitator for the offense. While Powell may only average 10 points per game, she averages 3.7 assists per game and her role as a distributor is a key part of Tennessee’s impressive offense. The matchup of Vanderbilt guard Jordyn Cambridge and Powell will be an entertaining one to watch all game. 

Vanderbilt’s recipe for success offensively will be to limit turnovers. Vanderbilt has struggled to stay disciplined defensively in SEC play, being outscored 21-11 in the fourth quarter to lose against Missouri, a game in which they were up by double digits in the third quarter. While Vanderbilt has almost always found a way to win late in games, it must limit turnovers against tougher competition.

Vanderbilt must also get production out of Iyana Moore and Cambridge. This lethal backcourt duo has broken SEC defenses. Against Kentucky, Moore dropped a career-high 37 points while shooting 82% from the field. If Cambridge and Moore can get hot and shoot a high percentage from beyond the arc, the Commodores will be a force to be reckoned with on Sunday. 

However, this game will be won or lost for Vanderbilt in the paint. Only two players on Tennessee’s roster are shooting over 35% from the 3-point line, so the team does most of its damage in the paint. Vanderbilt must crash the boards and stay out of foul trouble to dominate the Lady Volunteers.

Tennessee will be a tough test as Vanderbilt enters the more difficult part of its formidable SEC schedule, facing South Carolina and LSU in the next few weeks. However, if the Commodores contain Jackson in the paint and get production from Moore and Cambridge, it might get the win that vaults them into the AP Top-25.

Vanderbilt tips off against Tennessee at 2 p.m. CST on Sunday, Jan. 21.

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About the Contributors
Henry Oelhafen
Henry Oelhafen, Deputy Sports Editor
Henry Oelhafen (‘26) is a student in Peabody College majoring in human and organizational development and minoring in business. Henry grew up as a Vanderbilt sports fan and loves to talk about both professional and amateur golf. In addition to writing, he loves to play golf with friends, hike and try new restaurants. He can be reached at [email protected].
Vince Lin
Vince Lin, Deputy Videography Editor
Vince Lin (‘27) is from Zanesville, Ohio, and is majoring in computer science. Vince also serves as a graphics and photography staffer. Outside of school, you can find him at the gym, rowing, lifting weights, playing games with friends or sleeping. You can reach him at [email protected].
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