KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - Mississippi has one of the best guards in the Southeastern Conference and is having one of its most successful seasons in a decade. The Rebels still came up short at No. 3 Tennessee.
Candace Parker had 25 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists, and the third-ranked Lady Vols had a decisive run in the first half en route to an 81-69 win over the Rebels on Thursday night.
Tennessee (24-2, 11-0 Southeastern Conference) took the lead before halftime with an 11-0 run while Ole Miss star Armintie Price was on the bench with two fouls.
Price, who is second in scoring in the SEC behind Parker, scored nine of her 13 points in the second half for the Rebels (19-8, 8-4). She was averaging 18.7 points a game.
Ole Miss beat then-No. 10 Vanderbilt and then-No. 5 LSU last month and is one win away from reaching 20 victories for the first time since 1994-95.
"We knew going in that this was not going to be an easy 40 minutes of basketball," Tennessee coach Pat Summitt said. "I thought Ole Miss did a great job of staying aggressive. Even with Price in foul trouble, they were able to maintain their intensity up until halftime."
The Lady Vols have beaten Ole Miss 14 straight times.
"I have to give Tennessee and this environment a lot of credit," Ole Miss coach Carol Ross said. "It certainly seemed to have affected us. We were not the team that beat LSU or Vanderbilt.
"Tennessee is talented and good enough to make us pay when we miss our rotation or are a step slow. That was pretty much it."
Shannon Bobbitt added 15 points and Alexis Hornbuckle had 12 for Tennessee.
Danetra Forrest scored 11 points for Ole Miss, while Ashley Awkward, Carla Bartee and Bianca Thomas added 10 apiece, and Jada Mincy had 10 rebounds.
After a fairly even first half, Tennessee uncharacteristically went from a man-to-man defense to zone to slow down Ole Miss.
"They were penetrating so much and so easily at times that coach put us in zone. I think we handled it really well," Hornbuckle said. "They got a lot more open jump shots, but we shut down their penetration."
The Rebels got as close as 42-36 in the second half on a layup by Forrest. Price picked up her third foul on the next play and stayed on the court, but soon the game was out of reach.
The Lady Vols capped the ensuing 7-0 run with Sidney Spencer's jumper that made it 49-36 with 15:34 left. Tennessee led by 19 with 5:56 to go.
In the first half, the Rebels were ahead 20-17 on Bartee's jumper with 7:36 left in the first half.
Bobbitt then hit a 3 to start an 11-0 run for the Lady Vols. They never trailed again.
Price, a senior, only needs seven points to become the fifth women in NCAA history with at least 2,000 points, 1,000 rebounds, 300 assists and 300 steals in a career.
She would follow Southern Cal's Cheryl Miller, Baylor's Sophia Young, and Tennessee's Chamique Holdsclaw and Tamika Catchings.
"You can't go on the road against a team as good as Tennessee and have your best player sitting on the bench, and she wasn't very good when she came back out," Ross said.
With Price on the bench with two fouls, Ole Miss kept the game close early and went ahead 14-13 on Thomas' putback with 12:02 left. But Tennessee got the lead back on the next play on Parker's scoop shot in the lane.
"In the second half, I knew I had come out and just take over. This time, it just didn't go our way," Price said.
The Rebels had 23 turnovers and Tennessee had 20 — 14 were on steals.
Price, who leads in the NCAA with 3.73 steals a game, had four.