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No. 9 Lady Vols outperforming preseason expectations in first year of post-Summitt era

  • 5dbc4ad1053e9303270f6a7067008bb6.jpg

    Tennessee guard Meighan Simmons (10) drives against Vanderbilt guard Jasmine Lister (11) in the first half of an NCAA basketball game on Thursday, Jan. 24, 2013, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey) (The Associated Press)

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    Tennessee head coach Holly Warlick yells to her players in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Vanderbilt, Thursday, Jan. 24, 2013, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey) (The Associated Press)

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    Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam, right, cheers as he sits with Pat Summitt, left, Tennessee head coach emeritus, in the first half of an NCAA basketball game between Tennessee and Vanderbilt, Thursday, Jan. 24, 2013, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey) (The Associated Press)

The Tennessee Lady Vols have shown expectations of their demise in the post-Pat Summitt era were unfounded.

They've overcome pessimistic preseason projections, the transition to new coach Holly Warlick and a season-opening loss to Chattanooga that dropped them to No. 24 in the Top 25 — their lowest ranking since 1985.

The Lady Vols (16-3) have climbed to ninth, are riding a nine-game winning streak and sit alone atop the Southeastern Conference standings.

What Tennessee hasn't been able to do is beat an elite team, losing to Baylor and Stanford this season. They get another shot Monday against No. 2 Notre Dame.

The fast start has shown that the Lady Vols won't struggle without Summitt, who stepped down last April after winning eight national titles in 38 seasons.