Tennessee is entering a familiar situation.
Two years ago, it lost to Chattanooga in Holly Warlick's head coaching debut. Tennessee responded two days later with a 71-54 road victory over a Georgia Tech team ranked 22nd at the time.
Now, the No. 4 Lady Vols (4-1) again follow a loss at Chattanooga by facing a ranked team away from home — No. 6 Texas (4-0) on Sunday. This will be Tennessee's first game against a major-conference opponent.
"We're going to find out what they're made of," Warlick said after the 67-63 loss to Chattanooga. "We just need five. We need five people to step up and get the job done. I would hope that it would motivate them. It's motivated me, and I didn't even play. You've got to move on. You've got to learn from it."
This Texas team appears much stronger than the 2012-13 Georgia Tech that went on to finish 14-16. Texas already has won at No. 5 Stanford and UCLA. Texas' fast start has made this one of the Longhorns' most anticipated home games in the last several years.
"We're excited. We're confident," Texas forward Nneka Enemkpali said. "I think it's going to be a really great matchup."
Both teams have dealt with injuries to key post players.
Texas' Imani McGee-Stafford, a 6-foot-7 junior, underwent surgery for a stress fracture in her left leg in September and hasn't played all season. Tennessee center Isabelle Harrison, a 6-3 senior who earned first-team all-Southeastern Conference honors last season, has missed four straight games with a sprained knee. Harrison's status for the Texas game is uncertain.
Sophomore center Kelsey Lang has picked up the slack for Texas by averaging 14.5 points and 7.0 rebounds. Tennessee has gotten an unexpected contribution from junior center Nia Moore, who has averaged 17.8 points and 8.4 rebounds despite being held to six points and four rebounds in 11 minutes against Chattanooga.
Against Chattanooga, Tennessee allowed the Mocs to shoot 53.3 percent and fell behind by 17 points before rallying to tie score in the second half.
"We have to commit to defense," Warlick said. "Texas has great penetrators, like (Chattanooga), but more athletic."
Sunday's game is the latest in a rivalry that began when Tennessee's Pat Summitt and Texas' Jody Conradt were building their schools into national powers. Summitt visited Austin when a statue of Conradt was dedicated in 2012. Conradt made the trip to Knoxville last year for the dedication of a statue in Summitt's honor.
Tennessee leads the series 23-12 and has won the last five times. Texas hasn't beaten the Lady Vols since a 73-59 victory on Dec. 14, 2008.
"This is a big game for us," Texas coach Karen Aston said. "It's a big game for our program as far as moving forward."