Sunday, January 13, 2008

(2) Tennessee 71, South Carolina 48

COLUMBIA, S.C. -- Coach Pat Summitt sees a Tennessee team that can do it all. Her mission is to make sure it does.

So after arguably one of the Lady Vols top defensive efforts Thursday night in an 85-52 victory over Auburn, Summitt turned things up with an intense press Sunday at South Carolina.

The result? No. 2 Tennessee's 35th straight win against the Gamecocks, 71-48. It was the fewest points the Lady Vols have allowed this season.

"When they decide they want to press, they're one of the best pressing teams in the country," said Summitt, who's won seven NCAA titles and 961 games. "When they want to run, they're one of the best running teams in the country. When they want to rebound, they're one of the best rebounding teams in the country.

"We feel our job is to keep them working hard, keep them motivated and keeping them together," Summitt said. "And for the most part, they've done that."

Shannon Bobbitt led Tennessee with 20 points, while star junior Candace Parker added 15 as the Lady Vols started 2-0 in the Southeastern Conference for the 11th straight season.

Bobbitt's performance matched her top scoring effort in an SEC game.

Summitt has chased perfection her entire career. She admits players see her expectations at times as unattainable.

Parker says that's the very reason players covet the Lady Vols program.

"She always expects the best out of everyone of her players," Parker said. "Our team knows that she knows what it takes championships. ... I feel as a team, we've bought into her philosophy."

Parker scored the team's second basket in a 9-0 start and added another bucket and two foul shots as Tennessee broke on top 17-5 with less than nine minutes gone.

South Carolina never got closer than 10 points the rest of way.

Ilona Burgrova led South Carolina (11-6, 0-2) with 16 points and a career-best 13 rebounds.

Parker -- and the large contingent of Tennessee fans at the Colonial Center -- had a brief hold-your-breath moment when she banged her knee between two South Carolina defenders.

Parker rolled and winced before getting up and taking a few limping steps. But after a brief rest on the bench, Parker was back running the floor.

South Carolina scored the first three baskets of the second half to cut Tennessee's 23-point lead to 37-20. But the Lady Vols went on a 7-0 run capped by a basket by Parker to restore control.

The Gamecocks haven't beaten Tennessee since a 56-52 victory on Jan. 23, 1980.

South Carolina is 0-3 against top 10 opponents this year, all by lopsided margins. It earlier fell to then second-ranked Connecticut 97-39 and then No. 9 Oklahoma 95-63.

Burgrova hopes South Carolina will use the lessons learned in facing Tennessee during the rest of the SEC season. "We can go and get what we want," she said.

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