KNOXVILLE — The Tennessee women’s basketball team hasn’t had much difficulty rolling to a 3-0 start this season.
The Lady Vols have averaged wins of almost 47 points while forcing more than 30 turnovers a game. They will face their first test this week when they travel to Bimini, Bahamas, for the Junkanoo Jam at Resorts World Bimini.
No. 12 Tennessee (3-0) will play Clemson (2-2) at 3 p.m. on Thursday in what will be the 13th meeting between the programs.
The last time the teams faced each other was on Nov. 24, 2000, at the Maui Invitational, when the No. 2 Lady Vols defeated the Tigers 86-58.
Tennessee coach Holly Warlick said shot selection and fouls are among her concerns entering the tougher stretch of competition.
“Probably, offensively, (my concern) would be to not quit shooting the basketball and to keep taking great shots,” Warlick said. “Defensively, it would be keeping people in front of us and not getting into foul trouble. Those two things come to my mind first.”
The Junkanoo Jam is hosted annually over Thanksgiving. Besides Tennessee and Clemson, it will feature Eastern Kentucky, Florida State, Iowa, Oklahoma, UAB and West Virginia.
This year’s field is split into two divisions of four teams: the Junkanoo and Bimini Divisions. The Lady Vols are in the Junkanoo Division with Clemson, Oklahoma and UAB. Each division will crown a champion.
The winner of the Tennessee-Clemson game will meet the winner of the Oklahoma-UAB contest on Saturday at 2 p.m. The losers will play on Friday at 7:45 p.m. for third place.
Coached by Amanda Butler, Clemson is in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Tennessee is 109-28 all-time against current members of the league.
“The competition is getting better, and, again, we have to focus on us,” Warlick said. “They’re going to make us have to earn every basket we get, so we just have to make sure we apply what we’re doing in practice to a game and stay focused on doing what we’ve been doing: pressing, rebounding, getting great looks.”
Tennessee is coming off a 96-31 victory over Florida A&M on Sunday. The Lady Vols also defeated Presbyterian, 97-49, and UNC Asheville, 73-46, in their first two games. They have excelled on defense, holding opponents to, on average, 42 points and a 28 percentage in shooting from the field.
The Lady Vols are outrebounding opponents by an average of 18.7 boards.
Clemson has had a tougher schedule than Tennessee, which will be the Tigers’ third SEC opponent in five games. They suffered a 76-56 loss to Alabama on Monday night after falling to No. 10/11 South Carolina, 69-57, four days earlier.
Clemson opened the season with a pair of wins over Wofford, 85-77, and Lipscomb, 68-26.
The Junkanoo Jam marks Tennessee’s third in-season trip outside the U.S. and fourth international excursion in the past seven years of the Warlick era. Tennessee finished 2-0 at the 2013 Junkanoo Jam, went 3-0 during a tour of Italy during the summer of 2015 and posted a 3-0 mark at the 2017 Cancun Challenge last fall for an 8-0 record on foreign soil under Warlick.
This year’s team is young, with seven of 10 active players either freshmen or sophomores. Warlick said the tournament will be a good test for gauging the team’s ability to stay focused, particularly in a vacation-type setting.
“We will have to reel (the players) in,” Warlick said. “They will have curfew. You want them to have a great experience as well, but when you cross that line and go onto the basketball court, it’s about basketball.
“So we will see how they can separate having fun and being serious and competing.”