Tennessee was predicted to beat out Kentucky for the 2014 Southeastern Conference women's basketball championship by a panel of select league and national media members on Monday.
The reigning SEC regular-season champs return three starters from last season's 27-8 group that advanced to the NCAA Tournament Elite Eight, and two Lady Vols were put on the Pre-season All-SEC Team in guard Meighan Simmons and forward Bashaara Graves.
Kentucky's DeNesha Stallworth, one of seven McDonald's All-Americans on this season's roster, joined the two Lady Vols on the Pre-season All-SEC Team along with LSU's Theresa Plaisance and Vanderbilt's Jasmine Lister.
Simmons was named SEC Co-Player of the Year last season and Graves was the league's Freshman of the Year.
On the 15 team ballots, the Lady Vols were picked to finish first on 10 of them and Kentucky was picked to finish first on five.
The Cats, who return four starters and 10 total players from last season's Elite Eight team, will travel to Knoxville on Feb. 16 in the teams' only head-to-head battle this season.
Kentucky's four returning starters for Coach Matthew Mitchell are Kastine Evans, Jennifer O'Neill, Stallworth and Samarie Walker. The Cats went 30-6 last season, setting a school record for wins.
Tennessee topped the balloting with 192 votes, followed by Kentucky (185), Louisiana State (156), defending SEC Tournament champion Texas A&M (144), Vanderbilt (134), Georgia (132) and South Carolina (131) rounding out the top half of the league.
Points were compiled on a 14-13-12-11-10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 basis. Each media member also voted for a five-player All-SEC Team and for the Pre-season SEC Player of the Year.
Simmons was the overwhelming choice of the media to be the player of the year this season, with three votes also going to LSU's Plaisance, the league's leading scorer last season.
SEC media picks
Order of finish
First-place votes in parentheses
1. Tennessee (10) 192
2. Kentucky (5) 185
3. Louisiana State 156
4. Texas A&M 144
5. Vanderbilt 134
6. Georgia 132
7. South Carolina 131
8. Auburn 84
9. Missouri 74
10. Florida 67
11. Mississippi State 66
12. Arkansas 57
13. Mississippi 29
14. Alabama 18
Bashaara Graves Tennessee
Jasmine Lister Vanderbilt
Theresa Plaisance LSU
Meighan Simmons Tennessee
DeNesha Stallworth Kentucky
■ Player of the Year voting: Meighan Simmons, Tennessee (10), Theresa Plaisance, LSU (3).
Jennifer Smith: (859) 231-3241. Twitter: @jenheraldleader. Blog: ukwomen.bloginky.com.