BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Tennessee’s Mercedes Russell, who averaged a double-double of 21.0 points and 10.0 rebounds last week in a pair of wins for her team, was named the SEC Women’s Basketball Player of the Week, the league announced on Tuesday.
Russell, a 6-foot-6 center from Springfield, Ore., played a huge role as Tennessee ran its winning streak to five games and opened conference play with a 72-65 victory over #17/23 Kentucky in Knoxville.
The redshirt junior shot a sizzling .643 percent from the field (18-of-28) in a pair of games, including a 10-of-16 effort vs. Kentucky on Sunday and an 8-of-12 contest vs. UNCW last Thursday night, as the Lady Vols improved to 9-4 after standing 4-4 on Dec. 11.
Against UNCW, Russell posted her SEC-leading (tied) eighth double-double of the year, tallying 20 points and 11 boards to go along with three assists from her post position. She now has 19 double-doubles in her career.
Russell managed a season-high 10 field goals vs. Kentucky and finished with a season-best-tying 22 points, along with nine rebounds and three assists while playing 38 minutes. It marked her third 20-point game of the season and the fourth of her career.
While UT’s leading shot-blocker didn’t record any swats last week, she helped limit Kentucky center Alyssa Rice to six points and seven rebounds and UNCW center Rebekah Banks to 10 points and five boards.
Russell continues to lead Tennessee in points per game (16.8), rebounds per game (9.3), field goal percentage (.565) and blocks per game (1.5).
The inside presence also continues to show great improvement at the free throw line, hitting six-of-seven charity tosses last week for .857 percent. She has gone from a career free throw percentage of .533 when the season started to .667 percent accuracy (52-78) this season.
Russell and her teammates will hit the road this week to take on Vanderbilt (10-4/0-1 SEC) on Thursday night in Nashville. Tip-off at Memorial Gym is at 8:02 p.m. CT (9:02 ET) on the SEC Network.
The Lady Vols will be back home next Sunday (Jan. 8) at 2 p.m. ET, as fourth-ranked Mississippi State (15-0) comes to town.