Sunday, February 27, 2005

Lady Vols go for 28th straight victory over Tide in Moody's final regular season game

(5) Tennessee (22-4) vs. Alabama (13-13)
Game Info: 2:00 pm EST Sun Feb 27, 2005

Alabama coach Rick Moody will get one more chance to beat Tennessee.

The fifth-ranked Lady Vols still have a chance to earn at least a share of the Southeastern Conference regular season title when they visit the Crimson Tide in Moody's final game at the Coleman Coliseum on Sunday.

The Lady Vols (22-4, 12-1), who have won the last seven SEC titles, are a game behind conference leader and top-ranked LSU (26-1, 13-0). If Tennessee wins Sunday, and the Lady Tigers lose to visiting Florida, the teams would finish with identical records.

LSU owns the tiebreaker over Tennessee by virtue of its 68-58 home victory over the Lady Vols on Feb. 10, guaranteeing the Lady Tigers the No. 1 seed in next week's SEC tournament.

The Lady Vols, picked by both media and coaches to win the conference, last shared the regular season title in 2000, with Georgia.

Tennessee has won 27 in a row against Alabama since an 85-66 defeat in the first round of the SEC tournament in 1984 -- five years before Moody took over the Tide and proceeded to drop 21 in a row to the Lady Vols.

Tennessee leads the all-time series 34-2, with both Alabama wins coming at neutral sites.

The Lady Vols have on 14 of their last 15 games overall, including a 78-56 home victory over Mississippi State on Thursday.

Shyra Ely returned to the starting lineup and had 27 points and 12 rebounds for Tennessee. The senior forward came off the bench in the previous three games.

Ely, who leads the team with 14.2 points per game, has averaged 20.5 points and 10 rebounds while shooting 57 percent (33-for-58) over her last four games. She had a season-high 30 points last Sunday at Arkansas.

``I think she was trying to tell me she needed to start. What do y'all think?'' said Tennessee coach Pat Summitt, who needs six more victories to break Dean Smith's all-time NCAA record (879). ``It was important for her to understand I don't care if the ball is not going in the basket. There are so many other things Shyra brings to our team.''

Moody, who announced he will retire at the end of the season, will lead the Crimson Tide (13-13, 4-9) into the SEC tournament.

Alabama will also say goodbye to three seniors Sunday, including Monique Bivins, who is second on the team in scoring with 10.9 points per game.

Alabama has lost five straight, including a 64-53 setback at No. 20 Vanderbilt on Thursday.

Maverly Nettles, who leads 'Bama in scoring with 12.3 points per game, had 15 points and nine rebounds. Bivins had 12 points and fellow senior Natasha Gamble added 11.

Alabama has the worst defense in the SEC, allowing a league-high 66.5 points per game.

The Tide are 9-3 at home this season, but are 0-4 against ranked opponents.

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