Lady Vols basketball has won 12 games in the SEC, which is the most it has won in the conference since the 2014-15 season.
It’s not an easy feat in the SEC, and it’s the first time Tennessee coach Kellie Harper has accomplished it in her four seasons with the Lady Vols (20-9, 12-2 SEC).
“We’ve won a lot of games in a really tough league,” Harper said Wednesday. “I’m proud of our team for getting to that point. I think it’s shown quite a bit of consistency to be able to get to that mark. We talk about this a lot – it’s hard to win. It’s hard to win. We’re pleased with some of the growth that we’ve had, and also still excited about where we can go and what we have left to do, but that’s a big number.”
Despite its conference record, Tennessee hasn’t been able to break back into either the Associated Press Top 25 or the USA TODAY coaches poll. The Lady Vols received seven votes in the AP Top 25 and not a single one in the coaches poll this week.
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It’s not just Tennessee, either. Ole Miss barely received votes in both polls, despite recording 20-wins in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 1993-94 and 1994-95 and losing to No. 1 South Carolina in overtime last week.
The ACC, Pac-12 and Big Ten all have five teams ranked. The SEC has two.
“I do, I think the SEC is being underrated right now,” Harper said. “There’s a lot of parity in our league, and I think we’re getting punished for parity, the league as a whole. And I say punished, I mean in terms of rankings – punished. But there are a lot of teams that are very talented in our league and it’s tough, it’s a tough league.”
Ole Miss coach Yolett McPhee-McCuin sounded off on Twitter on Monday when her team received one vote in the AP Top 25.
“Seems like there is a fatigue when it comes to our league,” she wrote. “It’s saddening to say the least!”
LSU coach Kim Mulkey defended the league’s strength on Tuesday as well. She believes more than two SEC teams should be in the Top 25.
“I think you know who those teams are,” Mulkey said. “It’s just you have to be careful in your scheduling because if you overschedule, they’ll think you don’t belong on the Top 25. But yet, the selection committee thinks you should get a top-16 seed. You have to do what you got to do as a coach to get your kids recognition.
“As far as what I have observed in this league, we’ve got a couple more people that deserve to be in the Top 25.”