KNOXVILLE — The Tennessee women lost 69-48 at top-ranked South Carolina on Sunday and fell to 17-5 for the season and 7-2 in the Southeastern Conference.
The Lady Vols limited the Gamecocks to 38% shooting from the field but shot 35% themselves and turned the ball over 21 times, which led to 28 South Carolina points.
The road doesn't get any easier for Tennessee, which hosts eighth-ranked Mississippi State (19-3, 8-1) on Thursday at Thompson-Boling Arena.
Here are three next-day observations from the loss:
Needed more Key in the key: Tamari Key's nine blocked shots set a Tennessee freshman record, and some of those were just because she had the speed and the agility to prevent the Gamecocks' penetration by the guards. But South Carolina kept attacking the 6-foot-5 rookie and eventually got her in foul trouble, which weakened the Lady Vols' interior due to the mismatches that were created.
Gamecocks found the weaknesses: Tennessee sports one of the tallest teams in the country, but a problem with that size is that, aside from Key, the posts aren't very agile. With Key limited to 20 minutes of game action Sunday due to foul trouble, South Carolina really feasted on the Lady Vols' backup posts, with the Gamecocks' guards freely penetrating gaps once they got matched up against a Tennessee big.
Second scorer needed: Far too many times this season, the Lady Vols have relied on junior Rennia Davis to be the primary scorer. Tennessee has been unable to find a quality consistent second option, one that was expected to be sophomore Zaay Green before a knee injury took her away after the second game of the season. Rae Burrell has held that title in moments, but not enough of them. It can't be all Davis, who had 18 points and 10 rebounds against the Gamecocks.
Contact Gene Henley at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @genehenley3 or at Facebook.com/VolsUpdate.