Knoxville, Tenn. (WVLT)— Tennessee head coach Holly Warlick met with the media on Wednesday in advance of Thursday night's SEC opener at Auburn. The Lady Vols and the Tigers will tip at 6:02 p.m. CT (7:02 ET) in a game streamed by SECN+.
The No. 10/10 Lady Vols concluded their non-conference slate 11-1 with an 84-76 home victory over Belmont on Sunday afternoon and will face a 12-1 Auburn team in a tough road environment. A Tigers team that has been known for its pressure defense has become a better offensive unit in 2018-19, averaging 82.0 points per game while giving up 62.7. Those numbers look very similar to a UT squad that is averaging 82.8 points and allowing 64.2 thus far, but Auburn features a more experienced starting lineup (Sr./Sr./R-Jr./Jr./So.) than the Lady Vols have (Sr./Sr./So./So./Fr.).
Tennessee features quality wins over No. 12 Texas (10-2), Oklahoma State (9-2) and Clemson (9-4) as well as stout mid-major programs UAB (12-1) and Belmont (7-4), plus a 10-point loss to No. 8/9 Stanford (10-1). Auburn defeated North Carolina (9-5) and New Mexico (10-1) for its top wins while losing by three at No. 25 Iowa State (10-2). The Tigers also beat Oklahoma, which is 4-7 but led No. 1 UConn by 13 before eventually falling to the Huskies.
Tennessee Head Coach Holly Warlick
On what she expects out of Auburn:
"I think we're just two very similar teams. They're athletic, rely on defensive pressure, full court pressure, rebounding. They play hard. They're just like us, so it's always interesting when we play Auburn. And they're having a great year."
On Auburn's shooting:
"They're shooting the ball so much better this year. It makes it difficult because not only are they three-point shooters, they penetrate. It makes it really, really difficult to defend. And they're playing with a lot of confidence; they're 11-1. I watched the game they lost and that was early on."
On what the team has learned in previous games that they will apply to the game plan against Auburn:
"We've got to get better guarding threes. We're progressively getting better, but we've guarded that all year. It seems like all year we've guarded teams that can shoot the three and penetrate. We've got to keep people out of the paint, and we've got to get in peoples' faces on the three, and we've worked on it every day, but it's difficult. Defense is difficult; it's hard. It takes a lot of heart and a lot of energy, and we've got to get back to understanding the importance on the defensive end."