Thursday, March 06, 2008

Lady Vols await SEC opponent

UT has experience with Florida, South Carolina

Tennessee might not have to dig deep in its scouting reports for its first game of the SEC women's basketball tournament.

Then again, the second-seeded Lady Vols might have to refer back nearly two months.

They play the winner of a first-round game between seventh-seeded Florida and No. 10 South Carolina at 3:30 p.m. Friday in Nashville.

No. 3 Tennessee (27-2) played the Gators last Thursday in its regular-season home finale and played one of its better games, winning 88-61. The Lady Vols grabbed a season-high 57 rebounds in that game.

South Carolina, on the other hand, would not be as familiar. UT played the Gamecocks in its second SEC game and won 71-48 in Columbia, S.C., on Jan. 13.

Tennessee's half of the tournament bracket also includes Arkansas, Auburn and Vanderbilt. UT has a 4-0 combined record against those teams and an average victory margin of 26.2 points. Still, Lady Vols coach Pat Summitt is wary.

"A lot can happen in these tournaments," she said.

The Lady Vols helped complete the bracket by beating Georgia 72-63 Sunday night in Athens, Ga. Their win deprived the Lady Bulldogs of a first-round bye, saddling them with a No. 5 seed. Kentucky, coached by former UT graduate assistant Matthew Mitchell, held on to the No. 4 seed despite losing to South Carolina on Sunday.

"Matthew better send me a fruit basket or something,'' Summitt said jokingly.

SEC Honor: Tennessee's Angie Bjorklund earned SEC freshman-of-the-week honors for the fifth time.

The 6-foot forward averaged eight points and 6.5 rebounds against Florida and Georgia. She had four 3-pointers against the Gators, moving into sixth place in school history for 3-pointers in a season with 62.

Notebook: With 30 points Sunday night, Candace Parker moved past Semeka Randall into fifth place on Tennessee's career scoring list with 1,930 points. . . . Alexis Hornbuckle has moved past former Georgia great Teresa Edwards into seventh place in the SEC record book for career steals with 344. Hornbuckle also has reached 100 assists for the fourth consecutive season. . . . Tennessee's 26 points at halftime Sunday were a season low for a first half. . . . The Lady Vols have made at least one 3-pointer in 331 consecutive games.

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