Sunday, February 26, 2006

Florida Gators/Tennessee Lady Volunteers Recap

Florida 95, (5) Tennessee 93, OT

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Tennessee doesn't seem so dominant anymore.

The No. 5 Lady Vols lost at home to an unranked team for the second time in school history and first time in 22 years, falling 95-93 to Florida in overtime Sunday.

On top of that, Tennessee lost to two unranked teams in one season for the first time since the women's rankings started in 1976. Its first loss to an unranked team this year came at Kentucky, 66-63 on Jan. 26.

Tennessee's strange regular season ended with a stinging loss on senior day and left coach Pat Summitt still harping on defense, the signature of her 32-year career.

"We're Tennessee. It's not like anyone is going to feel sorry for us," Summitt said. "We have yet to buy into defense. We have to bring that every possession."

The Lady Vols (25-4, 11-3 Southeastern Conference) had never lost to an unranked team in Thompson-Boling Arena, which opened in 1987. Unranked Cincinnati beat then-No. 12 Tennessee 72-69 on Nov. 26, 1984, in the university's old arena.

It was only the 16th loss for Tennessee in Thompson-Boling Arena. Florida won for the first time in Knoxville, becoming the second SEC team to win for the first time here. LSU did it in February, snapping Tennessee's 64-game home winning streak over SEC teams.

Brittany Davis scored a career-high 29 points and Sha Brooks added 25 for the Gators (20-7, 8-6), who improved to 2-34 all-time against Tennessee. Sarah Lowe added 15 points, seven rebounds, six assists and no turnovers while playing the entire 45 minutes. Danielle Santos and Dalila Eshe each scored 13 points for Florida.

The Gators reached 20 wins for the first time under coach Carolyn Peck, a former Tennessee assistant.

"Teams come in and see Tennessee on the jersey and fold. The game is over before it even starts," Lowe said. "It's a matter of coming out and giving it everything you've got, and that's what we did."

Florida used a full-court press that forced most of Tennessee's season-high 28 turnovers and further exposed the loss of point guard Alexis Hornbuckle. Without a true backup, the Lady Vols have struggled to replace Hornbuckle, who broke her right wrist earlier this month and is out for the season.

"Another valuable lesson was handed to us. Our defense and ball-handling killed us," Summitt said.

Tennessee's Shanna Zolman said the Lady Vols aren't playing consistently.

"What bothers me most is that we knew our defense would carry us," Zolman said. "One game, we'll play 40 minutes of defense, and 20 minutes in another, and in another. It's not a top priority. Until it's a top priority, who knows?"

The Gators grabbed the lead early in the second half and didn't trail again until overtime. But that only lasted 15 seconds.

Candace Parker converted a three-point play to put Tennessee ahead 87-84 with 3 minutes left in the extra period.

Davis hit her only 3 of the game and then made the second of two free throws on the ensuing possession to give the lead back to Florida, and the Gators held on to win. After the buzzer, Peck and her players huddled at midcourt to celebrate.

"I know from being on the other side of being here, when Tennessee makes a run at you, most teams fold and go away," Peck said. "I thought our team did a good job of trying to maintain their composure."

Parker posted career-highs with 34 points and 15 rebounds. Zolman and Tye'sha Fluker each scored 22, and Sidney Spencer added 11 points. Fluker also had 16 rebounds, and Zolman had 10 assists.

Tennessee's only seniors -- Fluker and Zolman -- were honored before the game. Summitt presented flowers to Florida's four seniors -- Davis, Eshe, Lowe and Santos.

Florida had a season-high 20 steals that caused big problems for Tennessee, especially after the Gators got the lead.

Florida went up 51-50 on Brooks' 3 with 13:29 left in regulation, starting a 13-0 run. Santos capped it with a 3 over Parker's head that pushed the Gators' lead to 11.

The Lady Vols got back in it with a 10-2 run to cut it to 65-64 with 6:46 left. Tennessee cut it to one three more times before Eshe made two free throws with 34.4 seconds left to push it to 81-76. Lady Vols fans started to leave, but they missed Zolman's best basket of the day.

She hit a 3 with 8.4 seconds left to tie and it send it into overtime.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Tennessee Starts Fast, Cruises Past Auburn

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - Tennessee played more like coach Pat Summitt wanted, and Tye'sha Fluker was one of the main reasons. Fluker scored a career-high 22 points and Sidney Spencer added 18 to help the No. 5 Lady Vols beat Auburn 81-56 on Thursday.

Tennessee (25-3, 11-2 Southeastern Conference) built a big lead in the first half and never relinquished it on the way to a 13th straight victory over Auburn.

"When Fluker is an anchor out there for us, she makes everyone else on the floor look better. It takes more than one player to defend her. She draws double teams, and that's going to open up the outside game," Summitt said. "That can make a huge difference on how this team fares in Little Rock (at the SEC tournament)."

The Lady Vols host Florida on Sunday to end the regular season.

Tennessee's Candace Parker had her seventh double-double of the season with 13 rebounds and 11 points, though she missed a dunk attempt in the second half.

Auburn (13-13, 4-9), which hasn't won in Knoxville since 1988, led early but couldn't take advantage of its large front line that at times was bigger than Tennessee's.

The Lady Vols' starting lineup has grown taller with the loss of point guard Alexis Hornbuckle, who is out for the season with a broken right wrist. Fluker started at center with three forwards at least 6-foot-3 and 5-10 Shanna Zolman at point guard.

"They're the only team in the country that can lose players like they've lost players and still stay in the top five in the country. They just keep going to the cupboard," Auburn coach Nell Fortner said.

"I thought we were big, but we're not big compared to them. They're huge."

The Tigers started three players at least 6-foot-4, including 6-7 freshman KeKe Carrier, but Tennessee's post players were faster.

Parker showed it on a steal at midcourt that she intended to end up as a dunk.

She dribbled full speed to the basket and went up with the ball in one hand but it bounced off the rim.

Parker, who won a dunk contest against male McDonald's high school All-Americans, has at times looked like she was going to dunk but instead altered her shots to lay-ins. Only three women have dunked in a collegiate game.

Summitt said she was OK with Parker's attempt because there were no close defenders.

"I really wasn't thinking about it. I was thinking attack. I took off too far. I just missed a dunk," Parker said.

Parker also had five assists.

Fluker was 7-of-9 from the field and 8-of-10 from the foul line.

"It's my teammates. They're giving me the ball, and I have to finish," Fluker said.

The game featured two of the best freshmen in the SEC — Parker and Auburn's DeWanna Bonner, who led her team with 14 points.

Reserve Sherell Hobbs added 12 points for the Tigers.

The Lady Vols were ahead by as many as 16 in the first half and stretched it to 20 early in the second half.

Auburn had two quick baskets to trim it to 16, but the Tigers could not rally. They had 15 turnovers and were outrebounded 40-25 to give Tennessee several second chances.

During one sequence after halftime, Fluker missed a free throw, but Spencer put back the rebound and was fouled for a three-point play.

Tennessee took command in the first half with two runs. Auburn was ahead by six early when the Lady Vols took the lead on a 10-0 run that included three baskets by Parker. Nitasha Brown pulled the Tigers within one with a 3-pointer with 5:51 left before halftime.

Then Tennessee held Auburn scoreless for nearly four minutes with a 15-0 run. Spencer and Dominique Redding hit consecutive 3s to end the spurt and put the Lady Vols ahead 37-21.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Tennessee makes 500th appearance

Tennessee made its 500th appearance in The Associated Press women's basketball Monday, the first school to reach that figure.

Tennessee (24-3), which remained fifth, has been ranked in all but 14 polls and is on a run of 373 consecutive appearances. No. 20 Louisiana Tech is second in appearances with 444. The poll started in 1976.

All of Tennessee's national rankings have come with Pat Summitt as coach. Summitt credits the players for her program's success, which includes six NCAA championships and 104 appearances at No. 1 at the poll. Both figures are tops in the women's game.

"I think this speaks to the level of success we've had because of the caliber of players that have come through this program," she said. "The players are responsible for the consistency of this basketball program."

Tennessee was first ranked the week of Dec. 8, 1976. The Lady Vols have been in every poll since Feb. 17, 1985 and they haven't been out of the Top 10 since the week of March 3, 1997, when they were 11th.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

(5) Tennessee 82, Alabama 65

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Shanna Zolman's new role for No. 5 Tennessee obviously hasn't taken away from what she does best.

Playing mostly at point guard, Zolman still equaled her career-high with 28 points and made seven 3-pointers to lift Tennessee to an 82-65 victory over Alabama on Sunday.

Her shooting was a big reason why the Lady Vols (24-3, 10-2 Southeastern Conference) were finally able to enjoy a mostly stress-free game after three consecutive three-point decisions.

"Right now, I'm enjoying playing the point," said Zolman, who made the switch after Alexis Hornbuckle was sidelined with a broken wrist a week earlier. "I just enjoy being able to have the ball in my hands and being able to direct what we're doing."

Tennessee continues to enjoy playing the Crimson Tide (9-16, 3-9), winning the past 30 meetings and leading by as many as 22 in the second half of this one.

Zolman had four 3s after the half and finished 7-of-12 from behind the arc, while her teammates made only two in eight attempts. All five starters scored in double figures for the Lady Vols.

Zolman is discovering another benefit to dumping the ball inside to Candace Parker & Co.: The open outside shots that can result when they return the favor.

"What she's found is that you give these post (players) the basketball, they're very unselfish," Tennessee coach Pat Summitt said. "If they don't have a good 1-on-1 opportunity, they're kicking it out."

Nicky Anosike added 14 points for the Lady Vols, while Parker and Tye'sha Fluker had 12 points apiece and Sidney Spencer had 11. Parker made only 3-of-11 shots but she and Anosike had eight rebounds apiece.

Navonda Moore had another big game against the Lady Vols. She had a career-high 31 points, five more than her previous best this season, set in the last meeting against Tennessee.

"It's Tennessee. What more can you say?" said Moore, who made 11-of-12 free throws and four 3-pointers. "I like games like this. There's just something about playing against top-notch teams like Tennessee. It just gets me up."

Dee Merriweather added 15 points and nine rebounds and Kate Mastin scored 13 for the Tide.

Alabama twice cut its deficit to 12 points on Moore 3-pointers in the second half, but couldn't get any closer.

The relatively easy win gave the Lady Vols a respite after two three-point wins over ranked teams following a 72-69 loss to No. 2 LSU.

Summitt remains concerned about the lack of production from her reserves -- they scored just five points on Sunday -- but had few complaints about her starters Sunday.

"We needed them on the floor to answer every run they made," she said.

The Lady Vols made 17-of-30 shots in the second half. They had used a stingy defense to overcome 36 percent shooting in the first half. Parker drove past Chanel Johnson for a basket and foul with 11 seconds left and hit the free throw for a 37-28 lead, matching Tennessee's biggest of the half.

Tennessee forced 14 turnovers before halftime and closed the half on a 9-2 run, holding Alabama to only one field goal in the final four minutes. The Tide cut its turnovers in half after that, and the game little resembled the Lady Vols' 89-54 win at Knoxville in January.

"I was very pleased with our fight and our performance," Tide coach Stephany Smith said. "Especially in comparison to our previous game in Tennessee."

Thursday, February 16, 2006

(5) Tennessee 58, (13) Georgia 55

ATHENS, Ga. -- Even down by 14 points midway through the second half, Tennessee never lacked for confidence against Georgia on Thursday night.

"The thought never crossed our mind that we were going to lose," guard Shanna Zolman said after the fifth-ranked Lady Vols rallied to beat No. 13 Georgia 58-55.

Georgia's Tasha Humphrey scored following an offensive rebound with 4:50 left to give the Lady Bulldogs a 55-48 lead. Georgia didn't score again as Tennessee closed with a 10-0 run to complete the comeback.

"We were trying to make our defensive pressure so great to put pressure on them," said Zolman, who filled in at point guard and finished with 18 points.

"In the last five minutes, our defensive pressure went up like that," she added, gesturing to the ceiling. "We tried to force them to make mistakes."

Candace Parker returned after spraining her ankle in the first half and led Tennessee with 19 points, 14 rebounds and five blocked shots.

Tye'sha Fluker set a season high with 10 boards as the Lady Vols outrebounded the Lady Bulldogs 42-27.

Parker scored the go-ahead basket with 17 seconds left and Zolman added two free throws with 7.3 seconds to play. Georgia took two timeouts and still couldn't get off an attempt at a game-tying 3-pointer.

"In the two timeouts we talked about who was going to get the ball, and do you think the right person got the ball?" asked a dejected Georgia coach Andy Landers, referring to the Lady Bulldogs' last possession.

"The game awareness just blows me away. Somehow or another it's got to be my responsibility and I'm not sure how to address it."

In its first game since losing starting point guard Alexis Hornbuckle for the season with a broken right wrist, Tennessee struggled with 21 turnovers. Hornbuckle had surgery Wednesday and was not with the team.

Zolman, best known for her 3-point shooting, assumed most of the responsibility of directing the offense, but Tennessee coach Pat Summitt said her team won with defense.

The Lady Vols used a 3-2 zone for the first time this year, according to Summitt, in hopes of containing Humphrey, the team's leading scorer and only inside threat.

Humphrey, averaging 20.6 points, was held to 10 points on 2-for-12 shooting from the field.

"We really wanted them to try to make a lot of outside shots," Summitt said. "I thought we did a nice job of limited Humphrey's touches. ... We thought we had to guard her with a guard and a half."

Cori Chambers was 3-for-12 from the field as Georgia was held to 33.3 percent shooting -- 10-for-30 in each half.

Tennessee, taking higher percentage shots closer to the basket, shot 46.8 percent from the field.

Georgia led 45-31 with 12:08 left, but Parker's basket with 2:52 to play cut it to 55-52. Fluker's inside basket made it 55-54 with 1:54 remaining.

The Lady Vols improved to 2-1 in their three games in seven days against ranked Southeastern Conference teams. Tennessee (23-3, 9-2) lost to then-No. 3 Louisiana State on Feb. 9 and beat No. 22 Vanderbilt on Sunday.

Georgia (17-7, 7-4) missed an opportunity to move into a second-place tie with Tennessee in the conference.

Sherill Baker led Georgia with 17 points and five steals. Megan Darrah had 10.

While the Lady Vols are left without a true point guard, Georgia lost four frontcourt players before the season and has been short-handed inside.

Tennessee's recovery from losing Hornbuckle appeared to begin with about 10 minutes left to play.

"I think other players had to realize they really had to help Shanna," Summitt said.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Weekly Teleconference

Coach Summitt addresses the upcoming games with Georgia and Alabama

Feb. 15, 2006

Tennessee Lady Vol Head Coach Pat Summitt

Opening comments:

"Certainly our win over Vanderbilt was a great second half effort on the part of our team. Obviously a costly loss with Alexis Hornbuckle, but it's a situation where Alexis was so valuable to us in terms of setting the tempo offensively and defensively. She's the one player that I thought really got us out in transition, defended the point guard and slowed down the opponent's transition game. It's a huge loss for us. At the same time, as a coaching staff and as a team, there is no time for us to have a pity party or hang our heads. As a staff we're looking at this team and calculating what we need to do. As far as a line up goes, we'll continue to go with Dominique Redding, Sidney Spencer and Shanna Zolman on the perimeter and then Candace Parker and Nicky Anosike inside with Tye'sha Fluker off the bench. I think Dom has done some good things for us and has gained a lot of confidence and experience. We know we're facing one of the best teams in the league in Georgia. Playing down there is always a tough challenge. We have to be a very efficient basketball team to compete against Georgia and be successful in Athens."

On Georgia's guard Sherill Baker?

"It's almost like playing five on six, she's that quick. She has great anticipation: I think players that have quickness are always effective if you utilize it. When I think about her quickness, I cannot do so without thinking about her anticipation. She is a step ahead; she anticipates the second and third pass. I know against us she just took the ball out of our hands, she stepped up in the passing lanes. She's a great helper from the ball side and weak side. It's not like if she's away from you she's not dangerous. She is one of the best defenders in the country. We have to be alert to where she is, take care of the basketball, shorten our passes and just really run our screens and try to be effective and protective of the ball."

On this type of situation with the loss of a key player, can you draw on things...

"Everyone becomes more responsible for the success of each possession. It's not like one or two players are involved, it's five players. We have to be not only mindful, but also committed to that and take a different level of ownership on possession basketball and individual commitment to taking care of the ball across the board. Certainly we can do some things by committee, we can play defense by committee, and we have to all be on the same page. This hasn't been what I'd call an eager team to support one other defensively, and now they have to guard the ball and provide support to each other and to the ball. Offensively, we need to be more mindful of the value of the possession and the execution of it. We cannot have lazy cuts or have a team that is not really committed to being a great screening team. We'll have to make each other better with our screens and our passes and our cutting. We've always emphasized getting the ball inside. That becomes more a point of emphasis to play from the inside out."

On Dominique Redding, what does she have to do for you now?

"She has to bring to our basketball team a commitment to play both ends of the floor. The one thing that she and Spencer have both neglected to put in their packages is a rebounding mindset at both ends. Those two are capable of getting on the boards for us and consistently coming up with some big numbers, but they are coming up with goose eggs or maybe one board. That's unacceptable for two juniors. Now if we were playing freshmen, I might say that I need to be patient, that they are not aware of what they need to do and how to anticipate covering the boards. These two should know. We expect that to be a point of emphasis for both Dom and Sidney."

On Candace Parker's versatility on offense and the mismatches she creates for opposing defenses?

"Candace has great versatility, particularly offensively. She can post up, go face up, put the ball on the floor allows her to play any of the five positions. I think she's getting better and more comfortable with each game. She understands that she has to take on even a bigger load with Alexis out. You can play her at the point. A lot of teams look to go zone on us, but she can shoot over the top. We can take her in a set and post her up. She's starting to really read well. Some teams double team her but she's terrific at getting the ball outside. Her inside action has been very good. She's shown a lot of composure there. If they want to go one-on-one, she's got a very strong offensive package in the paint."

On the breakdown of Georgia...

"On the inside, with Humphrey, that is a tough match up for anyone in the league. As I see it, it's hard to defend her once she gets the ball. We need to do as solid of a job as we can to bring the defensive pressure. She's shooting over 55 percent, and she can step out and shoot the three, so we have to be aware of playing her in the face-up game. She's also shooting very well from the line. We need to not turn the ball over and give Baker lay-ups. She is shooting the ball very well from inside the arc. I have to believe a lot of those points come off her tenacity on defense. We are clearly aware of it, but you can be aware of something and still struggle to handle it if you're not cautious. Chambers is having a good year and doing a lot for the Georgia team. We have to defend her, we have to defend all of their players. At that four spot, she can stretch us. We have to also be aware of their high-low game. They do a great job of that triple post, Macon and Humphrey's spacing and how they play well together is going to be a challenge for our post game. The biggest challenge will come from defending the quickness that this team possesses overall."

On the nature of your brainstorming over the last few days with your staff?

"It's been a combination. We look at the big picture, offensive and defensive schemes, and we really have to look at personnel and numbers. I spoke to the lack of rebounding by Spencer and Redding. Fluker could do so much more on the boards. For minutes played, Sybil Dosty is doing an awesome job, I hope she can be healthy and help us on Thursday. Anosike and Parker can both get more boards. Our guards can rebound more on the defensive end. There are a lot of nights our guards don't rebound and that tells me that they are not committed to finishing the defense. There are a lot of ways we can be more efficient. It seems to be more glaring when you lose one of your starters and key players. The overall scheme, there becomes more of an awareness now of what we have to do. We've been talking about this as coaches but I believe this team will understand it; they understand that Alexis is a huge loss for our basketball team. They can look around but can't look very far or very deep."

On Alexis' handling of her broken wrist and this situation?

"She's handled as well as you can handle it. Right now, she's not that far removed from the game. I think when she has to sit and watch and be in street clothes, I think that's when it really hits players and the reality sets in."

When Sa'de Wiley-Gatewood left, did you ever worry about losing Alexis?

"I'm always concerned. If we lose players it obviously affects the depth of our team. In this situation, you can go out every day paranoid, but I certainly don't plan to coach that way. At the same time, we've talked about it as a staff, that you cannot afford to lose a guard, period. Now we're in the situation and we cannot afford not to find other ways to be successful. We have to handle this adversity in a positive way. We need to put our heads together as a coaching staff and as a basketball team and figure out a way to get it done. We're not going to cancel the rest of the season, that's for sure."

On the rivalry with you and Georgia's head coach Andy Landers?

"The rivalry is more between the programs. I don't feel a personal rival with Andy. Probably years ago it was a bit more intense, but for different reasons. It was more for the recruiting than for the games. We were recruiting the same players and then we'd go on the court and try to be successful. I think the rivalry is more about Georgia versus Tennessee or Tennessee versus Georgia, two programs that have remained a constant in being among the top teams in this league.

On Andy Landers being the last male coach of a women's team in the SEC?

"He's loving it. That's my first thought, he's got to love it."

On the practices this week?

"We've tried to come together as a team and talk about our preparation for Georgia. That's the main thing we've worked on. We kept our routine of Tuesday off, had a good practice on Monday, we'll practice today and really spend some time again preparing for Georgia and then meet with our team and talk about how we have to execute in Athens and what to expect. The one good thing about road games is that you have a lot more time to meet with players individually and visit with your team. You don't have as many distractions."

On the game against Alabama on Sunday?

"We have back-to-back road games; that's always a challenge. I know this Alabama team has had some injuries and struggles, but it seems the best therapy for most of these teams is for Tennessee to come play you. We seem to bring out the best in everyone and I would expect that to be the case when we go to Alabama."

Hornbuckle Scheduled For Surgery Wednesday

Tennessee point guard Alexis Hornbuckle will have surgery to fix her broken right wrist Wednesday.

Trainer Jenny Moshak says further testing shows that Hornbuckle needs surgery, and the team's orthopedic hand specialist will put in a screw to help heal the broken bone.

Hornbuckle broke her wrist diving for a ball in the first half of Sunday's victory over Vanderbilt. The Lady Vols' starting point guard was their third leading scorer.

Coach Pat Summitt is trying several players at point guard in practice looking for a fill-in for Hornbuckle. The Lady Vols visit 13th-ranked Georgia Thursday night.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Lady Vols' Hornbuckle Breaks Wrist

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - Tennessee point guard Alexis Hornbuckle is out for the season after breaking her right wrist against Vanderbilt.

"Obviously, we are devastated by the loss of Alexis," Tennessee coach Pat Summitt said Monday.

Hornbuckle broke her wrist Sunday when she dove for the ball in the first half of No. 5 Tennessee's 70-67 win over No. 22 Vanderbilt.

"She shook it off and played on sheer adrenaline for the rest of the game," Tennessee trainer Jenny Moshak said.

The wrist was re-examined after the game, and X-rays Monday confirmed the break.

The 5-foot-11 guard averaged 10.4 points, 5.4 rebounds and a team-leading 3.9 assists while starting 24 of 25 games.

"She has played a key role for us this season," Summitt said. "Now, it's time for this team to step up and find out what they are made of."

The Lady Vols (22-3, 8-2 Southeastern Conference) travel to No. 13 Georgia on Thursday.

(5) Tennessee 70, (22) Vanderbilt 67

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Tennessee still isn't playing with the intensity coach Pat Summitt wants, and she doesn't understand it.

Candace Parker scored 19 points and fifth-ranked Tennessee rallied to beat No. 22 Vanderbilt 70-67 on Sunday to avoid losing consecutive home conference games for the first time in nearly 20 years.

The Lady Vols (22-3, 8-2 Southeastern Conference) were down 14 in the first half and used a 14-4 run in the last 5:51 to improve to 20-0 against Vanderbilt (17-8, 6-5) in Knoxville.

It was another inconsistent outing when the Lady Vols struggled early and found a way to win in the end.

"Vanderbilt was coming out and they were really taking us to school with their offense and our poor defense. I don't know. I don't know what it's going to take. Most teams by now have bought in," Summitt said.

"I don't understand. I can't relate to it. There's not a bone in my body that's as laid back as I've watched them play some times. It's just hard to watch."

Tennessee has not lost two straight SEC games at home since losing to Kentucky and then Georgia in the 1984-85 season. No. 3 LSU earned its first victory ever here on Thursday night and snapped Tennessee's 64-game SEC home winning streak.

Vanderbilt led nearly the entire game behind a strong inside game from Liz Sherwood, who had 20 points.

Tennessee finally found its defense and offense down the stretch.

The Commodores were ahead 63-56 on Carla Thomas' basket with 6:14 remaining. Then Sidney Spencer had a jumper and Shanna Zolman made a pair of free throws to get the Lady Vols going.

Nicole Jules scored for Vanderbilt, and Thomas had a basket around five points by Parker. Spencer scored again to tie it at 67 with 2:50 left.

Vanderbilt did not score again. Alexis Hornbuckle made two free throws with 2:22 to go for a 69-67 lead, and Tennessee held on.

Sherwood was whistled for her fifth foul with 1:51 left, but Parker missed both free throws.

Cherish Stringfield missed a 3 for Vanderbilt, which got the ball back with 32 seconds left after Tennessee had a shot clock violation. Spencer made the second of two free throws, and the game ended when Parker caught Caroline Williams' deflected 3-point attempt.

"I feel like we played really close to them. Our team really outworked Tennessee today," said Vanderbilt point guard Dee Davis, who had nine points and nine assists.

Spencer finished with 11 points and Hornbuckle had 10.

"I understand coach's frustration," Spencer said. "She never knows what we're going to do. It seems like we have to wait until we're down to step up."

Jules had 12 points for Vanderbilt while Stringfield had 11 and Thomas 10.

Summitt earned win No. 900 at Vanderbilt on Jan. 19, and just like that game, the Commodores were up by as many as 14 in the first half.

"At Vanderbilt, they came back and made a run, and we didn't fight back. I thought tonight that they would make their runs, and every time they made runs, we made runs back and we fought back all game," Vanderbilt coach Melanie Balcomb said.

The Lady Vols had the advantage at the foul line. They were 23-of-32 while Vanderbilt was 3-of-7.

"That happens every time I come to Tennessee. If I had it figured out, it wouldn't keep happening," Balcomb said.

The Lady Vols tied it at 43 with 14:54 remaining after a quick 5-0 run, but the Commodores were able to stretch their lead back to seven. They pushed it to as many as nine before Tennessee took over.

Vanderbilt had won four straight since losing at LSU on Jan. 26.

Jules gave the Commodores a 30-16 lead with 4:59 left. But Hornbuckle got an 11-0 run started with a putback, and the Lady Vols cut it to 30-27 with 1:33 to go.

Friday, February 10, 2006

(3) LSU 72, (5) Tennessee 69

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Third-ranked LSU is the new team to beat in the Southeastern Conference.

The Lady Tigers became the first SEC team to win at Tennessee in nearly 10 years with a 72-69 victory Thursday night and moved closer to winning a second straight regular-season league title.

Seimone Augustus scored 32 points, Scholanda Hoston added 18 and Sylvia Fowles had 10 points and 15 rebounds for LSU (21-1, 9-0).

The fifth-ranked Lady Vols (21-3, 7-2) had not lost a league game in Thompson-Boling Arena since a loss to Georgia on Dec. 8, 1996, a span of 64 games. LSU was 0-16 in Knoxville.

"Right now my thoughts aren't so much about ending the homecourt streak as just getting ready for Vanderbilt (on Sunday)," Tennessee coach Pat Summitt said.

"It's not a time for us to be feeling sorry for ourselves. We did a lot of good things, particularly in the second half. We have to get back tomorrow and keep things pointed in the right direction as a basketball team."

Most of the LSU players were unaware of their place in history until coach Pokey Chatman told them in the locker room after the game.

"It's great to be the first team to win here," Augustus said. "I think it was kind of an emotional thing for everybody who's a part of it from the coaches, the managers, the trainers. Everybody felt something."

The Lady Vols won seven consecutive SEC regular-season crowns until last year when LSU beat Tennessee in Baton Rouge to earn its first title.

But the Lady Vols got revenge by beating then-No. 1 LSU 67-65 to win the SEC tournament championship.

Tennessee needed to beat LSU to get back into the conference race. The Lady Vols have lost two league games for the first time since 1996-97 when they were 8-4.

"This conference doesn't allow you to enjoy it a whole lot because you know there's a talented Georgia basketball team that got to sit home and rest," Chatman said. "It has to be huge for the players to come in here and play against a quality opponent like Tennessee."

The Lady Tigers became only the third SEC team and eighth team overall to win in Knoxville, joining Duke, Connecticut, Louisiana Tech, Georgia, Texas, Stanford and Auburn. It was Tennessee's 15th loss in the arena which opened in the 1987-88 season.

The Lady Vols' first two losses this season came in consecutive games at Duke and at Kentucky. Their next game is against Vanderbilt here.

"We're not going to lose Sunday," Lady Vol Shanna Zolman said.

LSU got off to a big lead early, going up 11-1 in the opening minutes. The Lady Tigers led by as many as 13 in the first half before a much tighter second half set up a hectic ending.

The Lady Vols were ahead 67-66 with 2:19 remaining, before Augustus gave LSU the lead for good. Hoston pushed it to 70-67 with another basket, and Candace Parker pulled Tennessee within one with 46.8 seconds to go.

Fowles got open on the next possession and scored easily with 20 seconds left for the final margin.

Tennessee's Dominique Redding had a shot blocked in the final seconds, and Parker fouled Augustus on the rebound. Augustus missed both free throws with 6.2 remaining to give the Lady Vols some hope.

Zolman dribbled up the court and passed the ball as she was falling down to Redding, who couldn't get off a shot. The game ended with the Lady Vols and Summitt standing in silence.

Tennessee's Alexis Hornbuckle was called for a technical in a key sequence down the stretch. She tied it at 62 on a layup with 4:19 remaining and was fouled.

Hornbuckle said the referee called a foul on her for taunting after the play.

Chatman sent Augustus to the line, and she made both shots for the technical to put LSU back in the lead. Hornbuckle then made her free throw.

"From my viewpoint, she was excited about the play. I want to take a look at it," Summitt said. "I thought she was just excited, but (official) June (Courteau) jumped on it. I hope she made the right call."

Augustus was 10-for-20 from the floor and 10-for-12 from the free-throw line. Fowles played only 27 minutes because of foul trouble, and she was briefly on the bench before halftime after falling on her back.

Parker led the Lady Vols with 23 points. Tye'sha Fluker had 14 and Hornbuckle added 11. Zolman was just 2-for-11 from the field.

The Lady Tigers extended their SEC winning streak to 23 games. Their last loss was on Feb. 29, 2004, at Tennessee.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Arkansas Lady Razorbacks/Tennessee Lady Volunteers Recap

(5) Tennessee 77, Arkansas 37

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- No. 5 Tennessee put it together in a big way down the stretch against Arkansas on Sunday.

Shanna Zolman scored 21 points and the Lady Vols scored 33 of the last 36 points in a 77-37 win over the Lady Razorbacks. Tennessee (21-2, 7-1 Southeastern Conference) looked lethargic on offense for most of the game, but that changed in the second half.

"It was just ourselves. We got together and said, 'We don't want to beat this team by 10 or 15 points. It's time to step up our game and get back to the Tennessee way," guard Alexis Hornbuckle said.

The Lady Razorbacks cut it to 44-34 on Rochelle Vaughn's jumper with 11:12 left when Tennessee's offense and defense took over. Candace Parker added 18 for Tennessee. Hornbuckle had 10 points, six assists and eight rebounds.

Hornbuckle scored twice and Zolman hit a 3 to start the run. Parker scored nine straight points during the spurt.

Arkansas (13-9, 5-4), held to a season low in points, lost its third in a row in SEC play and 12th straight to Tennessee. The Lady Razorbacks have never won in Knoxville -- and neither has any league team in nearly 10 years.

Tennessee has won 64 consecutive SEC home games, but that streak will get a stiff challenge on Thursday when third-ranked LSU visits.

"We have to win that basketball game to have a chance to win the league, and that's still our goal," coach Pat Summitt said.

The Lady Tigers beat Mississippi on Sunday to remain undefeated in league play.

"I think we're prepared. I think we got our confidence back. I think we got our swagger back," Parker said.

Arkansas had trouble overcoming Tennessee's size advantage. The Lady Vols have six players 6-foot-2 or taller while Arkansas has one. They outrebounded Arkansas 45-28.

The Lady Razorbacks shot 26 percent (14-of-53) from the floor.

"That was one of the better 40 minutes we have had on the defensive end. In the second half, we got into a better rhythm offensively," Summitt said. "At one point, they were right there with us. Then we separated out with our defense and board play."

Parker missed some practice because of a tight hip muscle that bothered her in a win at Mississippi earlier this week. It didn't appear to slow her on Sunday.

Tennessee forward Sidney Spencer left the game with a hyperextended right knee, the same one she tore ligaments in a year ago. Trainers said she would be evaluated on Monday.

The Lady Vols were playing at home for the first time since dropping from No. 1 in the poll after losses at Duke and Kentucky.

Melissa Hobbs scored 12 points for Arkansas.

"It didn't feel like a 40-point game. I think we played well for about 30 minutes," Arkansas coach Susie Gardner said. "The last 10 minutes was a different story. They were just toying with us."

Tennessee had a strong first half. The Lady Razorbacks cut it to 19-15 on Leslie Howard's 3 with 6:02 left, but the Lady Vols had a quick 7-0 run to push the lead to 11.

Howard hit another 3 to trim it to 28-21 with 2:50 left, and Tennessee answered by scoring the last five points of the half.

Howard accounted for nearly half of the Lady Razorbacks' offense by hitting three wide-open 3-pointers before halftime. But she was scoreless in the second half.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

No. 5 Tennessee Routs Mississippi

OXFORD, Miss. - Sidney Spencer and Shanna Zolman each scored 18 points to help No. 5 Tennessee beat Mississippi 78-63 on Thursday night.

Alexis Hornbuckle added 14 points to help the Lady Vols (20-2, 6-1 Southeastern Conference) clinch their 30th straight 20-win season under Hall of Fame coach Pat Summitt.

This one was a struggle for a while. Ole Miss led by as many as eight after a 12-0 run in the first half, and led 28-26 at halftime. Jada Mincy's free throw with 11:28 to play gave the Rebels a 46-41 lead.

The Lady Vols countered with a 20-5 run keyed by two 3-pointers by Spencer during the following 4 1/2 minutes. Tennessee led 61-51 on Zolman's jumper with 6:59 left, and the Lady Vols were in control the rest of the way.

Tennessee's Tye'sha Fluker added 12 points.

The Lady Vols won their first 18 games, then lost consecutive games to No. 2 Duke and No. 21 Kentucky before beating Alabama convincingly earlier this week and then struggling in their 13th straight victory over the Rebels, a string which dates back almost exactly 10 years.

Ole Miss hasn't beaten Tennessee since the Rebels won 78-72 on Feb. 4, 1996.

Carla Bartee had 14 points, Danetra Forest added 13 and Armintie Price finished with 10 for the Rebels (12-9, 2-6), who have lost four of five and eight of their last 11.

Ole Miss has lost three straight against ranked opponents since early-season upsets of Texas Tech and Rutgers, and the Rebels on Sunday play at third-ranked LSU.

Weekly Teleconference

Coach Summitt addresses the upcoming games with Mississippi and Arkansas

Feb. 1, 2006

Tennessee Lady Vol Head Coach Pat Summitt

Opening comments:
"Our basketball team made some progress, just in terms of our practice preparation. What we focused on primarily was our defense and board play and our leadership, just taking ownership of what we needed to do as a team. Overall, the majority of our players responded. We got quality playing time for Alex Fuller and Sybil Dosty. Those are two players who I wanted to play a lot. Unfortunately, I also wanted to play Lindsey Moss. She broke her nose again and could not get a lot of minutes. For us right now, it's just trying to figure out players who we can depend on and how deep we can go during the actual game. Right now, I am comfortable to go eight deep."

Looking ahead to going down to Ole Miss:

"This Ole Miss team certainly has had some impressive wins, Rutgers a big game (a 67-57 Lady Rebel win). (Armintie) Price is one of the most explosive offensive players, one of the best one-on-one players, who we will have to face and one of the best in the league. She is someone we certainly have to be ready for."

On what the lineup looks like:

"I will probably stick with our look from our last game (an 89-54 win). I took (Sidney) Spencer out of the lineup, put (Shanna) Zolman back in to give us two guards. That is ideally what I would like to do: (Candace) Parker starting at the 3. Parker can play a number of positions; she has just got to rebound more from that spot. We have addressed that. And then Tye'sha (Fluker) has been performing better on the boards. That is the key there. Our inside players and our defensive rebounding has been really weak, and I don't understand that. Hopefully, as we put more emphasis on it and just focus on trying to control the defensive glass, I think we will be a better basketball team if we can do that."

On whether she is concerned about Parker's rebounding from the 3 position:

"I think that she is aware and more mindful now than she has been. There has been a pattern there when she has been at the 3. That is my concern because she is such a great rebounder when she is at the 4. Obviously, she scored for us at the 3 on Sunday against Alabama, but at the same time, she didn't pursue the ball, didn't really play aggressive to the boards. It is a concern, but it certainly is something that is fixable."

On what Parker needs to do to become more active on the boards:

"She just has to be focused and that has to be a priority in her game. Certainly, we have talked about it. I just have to make sure that if she is not going to the boards, that she is coming out and refocusing and making that a priority when she goes back in."

On whether Arkansas has been a surprise team:

"I think that they have. I have not had a chance to watch Arkansas play. They have proven that they can win in this league. (Arkansas head coach) Susie Gardner has obviously challenged this team, and they have responded. If you look at this league, a lot of people thought that Arkansas is not going to be a factor, but that is not true."

On guarding Ole Miss guard Armintie Price:

"Armintie is a great slasher and a creater off the dribble. Even against a zone, she can get into gaps. I know that we need great one-on-one defense against her, but at the same time, I think we need great support. It's not a situation where we are going to ask someone to just go guard her and stop her. It's going to take a player and a half, maybe two players at a time to contain her in her dribble drives. And obviously, she is a great rebounder. You just have to keep her off the boards. She plays hard. She's tough minded and obviously a very competitive player."

On if Tennessee is planning to stick with man-to-man defense against Ole Miss:

"Yes. I think this team right now understands that if we are going to get this done and be a team that can make a strong run to finish out the SEC, we have to influence with our man-to-man defense, which can change up some. But right now the commitment of the coaching staff and the players is to really play our tough, aggressive man-to-man."