Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Lady Vols, La. Tech cutting ties

After four decades and a lot of history, the Tennessee-Louisiana Tech women's basketball series is about to become history.

Indications are that the storied rivalry will end after next season, after Tech returns to Knoxville to complete a three-game contract between the schools.

The teams played Monday night at Thompson-Boling Arena with the Lady Vols winning, 81-60.

UT coach Pat Summitt said Tuesday that she didn't think Tech wanted to repeat the standing deal and continue playing two games in Knoxville for every UT visit to Ruston, La.

Furthermore, Tennessee has to pare its non-conference schedule in advance of the SEC schedule growing by two games when the league goes to division play in 2009-10.

"We felt like that was one of the games we had to drop,'' Lady Vols associate head coach Holly Warlick said.

The series, which began Dec. 16, 1978, has spanned AIAW and NCAA jurisdiction of the sport. The two teams have met everywhere from the regular season to national championship games.

At the outset, Tech had the upper hand, winning 11 of the first 12 games in the series. In the end, Tennessee has dominated, winning 11 of 12, including the past eight meetings.

Overall, the teams have played 40 times with Tennessee leading the series after Monday's victory, 23-17.

Warlick has experienced the rivalry as a player and a coach. She remembers when Tech dominated.

"I think that was probably why it was so special when we won our first championship," said Warlick, referring to Tennessee's 67-44 victory over Tech in the 1987 national championship game in Austin, Texas, "because we had so much respect for them."

Pressing Matters: Tennessee began preparing for Sunday's visit from No. 4 North Carolina by convening a strong group of male practice players, who simulated the Tar Heels' press and athletic play during Tuesday's practice.

"They're a transition team, and they're an offensive-rebounding team,'' Warlick said of North Carolina. "They're going to run the ball every chance they get."

Despite losing two starters from last season, including star point guard Ivory Latta, Warlick said Carolina still is Carolina.

"They play the same style," Warlick said.

Off The Mark: Summitt thinks the Lady Vols should do better than their 50 percent free-throw shooting (7-for-14) against Tech. For a large portion of Monday's game, they were shooting better on 3-pointers than free throws.

"I think we have to shoot free throws at a whole different percentage level," Summitt said.

Monday's attempts were confined to three players - Candace Parker, Nicky Anosike and Alberta Auguste. Anosike and Auguste did most of the misfiring. Each shot 1-for-4 from the line.

Notebook: Tennessee's 11 blocks against Tech tied for the fourth-most in a game in school history. ... Senior guard Alexis Hornbuckle has moved past Chamique Holdsclaw into 10th place for career assists with 389. ... Senior center Anosike has topped 800 career points.

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