KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - With all five seniors in the starting line-up on Senior Day, the No. 10/9 Lady Vols rolled past Florida, 75-59, on Sunday afternoon before 18,563 at Thompson-Boling Arena.
The Lady Vols (21-8, 12-4 SEC) enter SEC Tournament as the No. 2 seed and will face the winner of the No. 7-No. 10 seed game in the second game of the second round on Friday, March 2 at 3:30 p.m. ET/2:30 p.m. CT. That game will be televised on Fox Sports Net and can be heard on the Lady Vol Network.
In her final regular-season home game, Glory Johnson led the Lady Vols with 21 points and 10 rebounds. It was her 10th double-double of the year. Senior Shekinna Stricklen added 15 points and Meighan Simmons tallied 12.
Alicia Manning made the most of her Senior Day as she scored 11 points, grabbed eight rebounds and had five assists.
It was also the final home game for Vicki Baugh and Briana Bass.
Lily Svete led the Gators (18-11, 8-8 SEC) with 12 points while Jennifer George had 11 points and 11 rebounds.
Tennessee jumped out to a 15-3 lead to start the game and never trailed the rest of way despite Florida staying within in striking distance throughout the game.
The Lady Vols sealed the game on a Johnson breakaway lay-up with 2:05 left in regulation putting UT ahead 70-57. Manning's jumper gave the Lady Vols a 15-point lead.
Back-to-back hoops by Manning and Stricklen regained a double-figure lead for the lady Vols at 59-48 with six minutes left. The teams then traded 3-pointers by Jones and Stricklen for a 62-51 UT lead with 5:18 left in game.
Florida continued to hang around and cut the deficit to seven at 51-44 on a jumper by Ndidi Madu with 9:43 left in the second half.
Johnson opened the second half with a quick lay-up just 14 seconds in, as the Lady Vols equalled their largest lead of the first half of 12 at 37-25.
Tennessee led 35-25 at halftime as Johnson tallied 12 points prior to intermission including a last-second lay-up for the double-figure advantage.
After Florida opened the game with a 3-pointer by Jones, the Lady Vols ran off 15 points in a row to take a 15-3 lead 6:07 into the action. Johnson had eight of those 15 points.
Florida showed grit as they retaliated with a 10-2 run to cut the deficit to four at 17-13 on another 3-pointer by Jones with 10 minutes left in the first half.
Up next for Tennessee is a trip to Nashville for the Southeastern Conference Tournament where the Lady Vols will await the winner of the first round matchup between Mississippi State and Vanderbilt. The Orange and White looks to defend its 2010 and 2011 SEC Tournament crowns.
NUMBERS OF NOTE
Senior Day marks the first time all five members of this senior class started together. Tennessee is now 1-0 when the seniors line up for the opening tip.
The win over Florida pulls head coach Pat Summitt closer to her next win plateau. Eight more wins will put her at the 1,100-win milestone.
UF opened scoring with a three-pointer, but UT broke into a 15-0 run from there, taking a 15-3 advantage early; all 15 points contributed by the senior class.
With five assists versus Florida, freshman point guard Ariel Massengale set the Tennessee freshman record for assists. She has tallied 137 assists in her rookie campaign.
With 18,563 fans at Thompson-Boling Arena for today's game, Tennessee set a new season-high mark for attendance.