Thursday, January 30, 2014

No. 10 Lady Vols 70, Arkansas 60

Cierra Burdick and Meighan Simmons each scored 16 points as No. 10 Tennessee shot 62.2 percent from the floor to beat Arkansas 70-60 for its third consecutive victory.

The Lady Vols (17-4, 6-2 SEC) shot 28 of 45 overall and 7 of 13 from 3-point range.

Burdick matched a career high with her 16 points, and the 6-foot-2 junior also had seven rebounds and four assists. Isabelle Harrison had 12 points and Andraya Carter added 10 points.

Jessica Jackson scored 16 points, Keira Peak had 12, Jhasmin Bowen 11 and Calli Berna 10 for Arkansas (15-6, 2-6), which lost for the fifth time in its last six games.

Tennessee point guard Ariel Massengale missed a second straight game with an injury to her face. Massengale hasn't played since getting hit in the face Jan. 23 while making a steal in an 89-69 victory over Florida.

Arkansas won its first 13 games of the season, but close losses have put the Razorbacks in the bottom half of the SEC standings. Heading into Thursday's game, Arkansas' five conference losses had been decided by a total of 27 points.

The Razorbacks also had a chance to win this one.

Arkansas capitalized on strong shooting to lead by eight points in the first half. The Razorbacks made 13 of their first 19 shots by hitting open jumpers and driving to the basket for easy layups.

The Razorbacks also benefited from the absence of Harrison, who picked up two fouls in the first 4½ minutes of the game. Foul trouble caused the 6-3 center to sit out the rest of the first half, clearing the lane for Arkansas' drives.

But as the Razorbacks finally started to slow down, Tennessee capitalized on its own shooting accuracy and pulled ahead on Jordan Reynolds' 3-pointer with 12 seconds left in the first half. Tennessee led 38-36 after a first half in which the Lady Vols shot 64 percent (16 of 25) and Arkansas shot 57 percent (16 of 28) in the first half.

Tennessee stayed in front the rest of the way while preventing the easy drives into the lane that Arkansas had enjoyed earlier in the game. After making 13 of its first 19 shots, Arkansas was just 12 of 38 the rest of the way.

Arkansas stayed in the game by outrebounding the taller Lady Vols 31-24, but the Razorbacks didn't have enough firepower to pull the upset. They also couldn't stop Simmons down the stretch.

Simmons sank a 3-pointer with 6:04 left to give Tennessee its first double-digit lead at 59-48. Jackson scored five straight points to reduce the margin to eight, but Simmons answered by sinking another 3-pointer from in front of the Tennessee bench with 4:17 left. Burdick's 3 made it 65-55 with 3:46 remaining, and the Lady Vols led by at least nine the rest of the way.

Burdick made both her 3-point attempts Thursday after entering the night 1 of 9 from beyond the arc this season.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

No. 11 Lady Vols 89, Florida 69

Meighan Simmons scored 21 points Thursday as No. 11 Tennessee capitalized on its 3-point accuracy to beat Florida 89-69 on a night dedicated to honoring former Lady Vols coach Pat Summitt.

Bashaara Graves added 17 points and eight rebounds for Tennessee (15-4, 4-2 SEC), which shot 10 of 21 from 3-point range and handed Florida (13-6, 3-3) its third consecutive loss.

Andraya Carter scored 14 points, Jasmine Jones had 13 points and Isabelle Harrison added 12 for Tennessee. Kayla Lewis led Florida with 14 points.

Tennessee guard Ariel Massengale didn't return to the game after getting hit in the face and falling to the floor while making a steal late in the first half.

Before the game, the Pat Summitt Foundation received three checks totaling $30,000 in honor of the SEC's "We Back Pat" Week, an initiative focused on recognizing the foundation's fight against Alzheimer's disease.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

2014 SEC We Back Pat Week

We Back Pat Week is officially underway and runs through this Sunday, January 26th! We Back Pat Week is coordinated by the Southeastern Conference each year to promote The Pat Summitt Foundation and Alzheimer's disease awareness. 14 SEC Women's Basketball teams are playing 19 games in 14 cities throughout the week this season. You can support the SEC We Back Pat Week and The Pat Summitt Foundation by attending a game in your area. Please click here for more information. Below is a list of the remaining games for the week.

23 (Thursday)
Mississippi State at Ole Miss       6:00 p.m. CT
Florida at Tennessee (SPSO)     6:30 p.m. ET
Alabama at Kentucky                   7:00 p.m. ET
Auburn at LSU                              7:00 p.m. CT
Texas A&M at Missouri                7:00 p.m. CT

26 (Sunday)
Arkansas at Kentucky (SPSO)               1:00 p.m. ET
South Carolina at Vanderbilt (ESPN2)    1:00 p.m. CT
LSU at Ole Miss (SEC TV)                     1:00 p.m. CT
Missouri at Mississippi State (SPSO)     2:00 p.m. CT
Georgia at Alabama (CSS)                     2:00 p.m. CT
Auburn at Florida (ESPNU)                     3:00 p.m. ET
Tennessee at Texas A&M (ESPN2)       3:00 p.m. CT

CSS - Comcast Sports Southeast
SEC TV - SEC over-the-air syndication
SPSO - SportSouth

UK Hoops to Help Fight Alzheimer's Thursday and Sunday

The No. 9/8 Kentucky women's basketball team will not only take on two tough Southeastern Conference opponents this week but it will also help fight the battle against Alzheimer's as UK Hoops head coach Matthew Mitchell and his wife Jenna, in conjunction with their Mitchell Family Foundation, will donate $2 to the Pat Summitt Foundation for every fan who attends the Wildcats' next two games in Memorial Coliseum: Thursday vs. Alabama (7 p.m. ET) and Sunday vs. Arkansas (1 p.m. ET).

"Coach Summitt has impacted so many lives in a positive way," Mitchell said. "Jenna and I wouldn't be in the position we are today without Pat Summitt. Please join us as we help Pat continue to make a positive impact on the lives of people dealing with Alzheimer's."

The SEC, in cooperation with its 14-member institutions, is participating in "We Back Pat" Week. The week-long initiative is focused on bringing awareness and recognition to The Pat Summitt Foundation, a fund of East Tennessee Foundation, and its fight against Alzheimer's disease.

The Pat Summitt Foundation was launched November 27, 2011 by Pat and Tyler Summitt after her diagnosis of early-onset dementia, Alzheimer's type at the age of 59.

"We want to help fight this horrible disease and the Big Blue Nation can help us by buying tickets to our next two home games or if you already have tickets, just show up!" Mitchell said. "We hope to sell out Memorial (capacity 8,000) on Thursday and Sunday and be able to donate over $30,000 to the Pat Summitt Foundation."

To purchase tickets, go online at or, call the UK ticket office at 1-800-928-CATS or visit the Joe Craft Center ticket office from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. ET. Tickets can also be purchased on game day from the ticket office.

Single-game reserved tickets cost $9 for all ages. General admission tickets for adults are $8 while single-game general admission tickets for seniors and children (ages 6-18, 65 and over) are only $5. UK students, faculty, staff and children ages five and under are admitted free in the general admission seating area, while supplies last.

The Pat Summitt Foundation, a Fund of East Tennessee Foundation, is dedicated to winning the fight against Alzheimer's disease. Its mission as a grant-making foundation is to advance research for prevention and a cure; to provide hope, care, and critical support for patients, caregivers and families; and to educate the public on the impacts of Alzheimer's disease and the urgent need for a cure.

Pat Summitt, her family and friends have chosen East Tennessee Foundation to receive and manage contributions to Pat's Fund, and to facilitate their grant-making in support of the mission.

If you can't attend this week's games but would like to help by donating, visit

Monday, January 20, 2014

No. 2 Notre Dame 86, No. 11 Tennessee 70

Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw wanted to see how her undefeated team would respond to a test.

She got just the answer she wanted.

Kayla McBride scored 22 points to lead five players in double figures Monday as the second-ranked Fighting Irish erased an early 12-point deficit in an 86-70 victory over No. 11 Tennessee. Before Monday, Notre Dame (17-0) hadn't trailed by more than seven points all season.

"We're veterans," McGraw said. "I thought we're going to learn a good lesson, win or lose. It's going to help us down the road, prepare us for the ACC, (playing in) a great crowd, a hostile environment. We hadn't really seen anything quite this big this year. I thought it was just a great opportunity for us to see where we are."

Since losing the first 20 games in this series, Notre Dame has beaten Tennessee four straight times by an average margin of 17 points. Notre Dame continued its recent mastery of Tennessee by outscoring the Lady Vols 45-24 in the second half.

After getting off to a sizzling start, Tennessee shot 8 of 32 and committed 12 turnovers in the second half. Tennessee (14-4) has led at halftime in each of its last three losses.

"It feels like this team is very sensitive," Tennessee coach Holly Warlick said. "We want it so much that it's almost detrimental to us. We want it so badly. I would love to see how we'd play when everybody's clicking on all cylinders. It would really be a lot of fun, but that's up to me, to put them in positions and to get them ready for the next game."

Michaela Mabrey and Natalie Achonwa each scored 15 points for Notre Dame, which hit 10 of 20 3-pointers. Madison Cable had 12 points and Jewell Loyd added 11. Mabrey and Cable helped Notre Dame's bench outscore Tennessee's reserves 36-16.

Meighan Simmons scored 23 points and shot 10 of 14 for Tennessee (14-4). Isabelle Harrison had 13 points and 16 rebounds. Ariel Massengale had 14 points, all in the first nine minutes.

Notre Dame entered the night leading the nation in field-goal percentage (.517), 3-point percentage (.436) and assists per game (22.4) while racing to the second-fastest start in school history, behind the 2000-01 national championship team that opened 23-0. Tennessee, on the other hand, had dropped three of its last seven games and was struggling to find its footing.

Yet it was Tennessee that looked like the team on a roll in the early going.

"I thought at halftime we were lucky to be down five," McGraw said.

Tennessee grabbed a 42-30 lead by beating the hot-shooting Irish at their own game. Tennessee shot 55.9 percent (19 of 34) overall and went 5 of 6 from 3-point range in the first half against a Notre Dame team that hadn't allowed any opponent to make more than 44.9 percent of its shots all season.

Notre Dame committed three turnovers in the first 90 seconds of the game and had to adjust to playing without Loyd, who picked up two fouls in the first 5 1/2 minutes of the game and sat out the rest of the first half. Loyd entered the night averaging a team-high 17.3 points per game.

But the Irish never panicked.

"We've been through so much -- three (straight) Final Fours," said McBride, who had seven assists to go along with her 22 points. "We've been in these types of environments with NCAA tournament games. We just had to calm everybody down and execute our game plan."

Sure enough, Notre Dame regained the momentum once Tennessee cooled off.

After making 19 of its first 28 shots, Tennessee missed 17 of its next 18 attempts to allow Notre Dame to claw back into the game. Tennessee missed its last six shots of the first half and started the second half by shooting 1 of 12.

Notre Dame pulled ahead 49-48 when Taya Reimer capped a 14-2 run that started late in the first half by converting a three-point play with 15:27 remaining. After Tennessee briefly regained the lead, Notre Dame sank a trio of 3-pointers on a 9-0 spurt that gave the Irish a 58-51 advantage.

Simmons sank a 3-pointer that cut Notre Dame's advantage to 60-56 with 10:09 remaining, but the Irish scored the next 13 points to put the game away.

"We're going to be all right," Massengale said. "We've just got to find out what it's going to take for this team to play 40 minutes of basketball. In the first half, we seriously played the best basketball we've played all season. We've got to be able to sustain that for 40 minutes."

Saturday, January 18, 2014

"We Back Pat" Week Begins Tomorrow

The Southeastern Conference in cooperation with its 14-member institutions announces the third "We Back Pat" Week, a week-long initiative focused on bringing awareness and recognition to the Pat Summitt Foundation, a fund of East Tennessee Foundation, and its fight against Alzheimer's disease.

During the week of January 19-26, SEC member institutions will offer support of The Pat Summitt Foundation during their home basketball games. At every SEC women's basketball game – 19 games in 13 cities – a variety of efforts including promotional public address announcements and video endorsements will help to increase awareness of the foundation and its mission. The Foundation offers the sale of "We Back Pat" t-shirts and wristbands as well as a number of autographed and specialty items on their website at

"We are pleased that the Southeastern Conference can once again play a small part in helping Pat reach her goals for The Foundation Fund." said SEC Commissioner Mike Slive. "Pat Summitt has been and will continue to be an important part of the SEC family."

Tennessee's home "We Back Pat" game will be on Jan. 23, as the Lady Vols welcome Florida to Knoxville for a 6:30 p.m. contest on SportSouth. UT encourages fans to wear their "We Back Pat" shirts in support of Pat Summitt and her battle with Alzheimer's. "We Back Pat" shirts and wrist bands will be available for purchase at the game.

A public service announcement and a support video from SEC coaches will be played during the game, and on-court check presentations will take place prior to tip-off.

ESPN also has announced that three Southeastern Conference (SEC) women's college basketball games across ESPN2 and ESPNU on Sunday, Jan. 26, will honor the former Tennessee coach as part of the SEC's "We Back Pat" initiative. No. 10 South Carolina will face Vanderbilt on ESPN2 and Auburn will play Florida on ESPNU – both at 2 p.m. – followed by No. 12 Tennessee against Texas A&M at 4 p.m., also on ESPN2.

"I am again honored and humbled that the Southeastern Conference schools are continuing to support the work of the Pat Summitt Foundation's fight against Alzheimer's. This annual SEC "We Back Pat" week brings great public awareness for our cause and helps raise funds for research, patient services and education," said Summitt.

"I want to thank the SEC and all the member institutions who are participating along with ESPN for their support. It means so much to Tyler and me that you have again joined us in our efforts. Together We Will Win."

The Pat Summitt Foundation Fund launched November 27, 2011 by Pat Summitt after her diagnosis of early onset dementia, Alzheimer's type at the age of 59. In a videotaped statement shown during the announcement of the Pat Summitt Foundation Fund, Pat Summitt said, "Tyler and I have decided to join this battle, not just for us, but also for the millions of families affected by this disease. I have always told our players, our greatest opportunities are disguised as our greatest obstacles. It is time to treat this obstacle as an opportunity and a stepping stone to a cure."

The Pat Summitt Foundation Fund will make grants to nonprofits which provide education and awareness of Alzheimer's, its onset and treatment; support services to patients, their families and caregivers; and research to treat, prevent, cure, and ultimately eradicate this disease.

About The Pat Summitt Foundation

The Pat Summitt Foundation, A Fund of East Tennessee Foundation, is dedicated to winning the fight against Alzheimer's disease. Its mission as a grant-making foundation is to advance research for prevention and a cure; to provide hope, care, and critical support for patients, caregivers and families; and to educate the public on the impacts of Alzheimer's disease and the urgent need for a cure.

Pat Summitt, her family and friends have chosen East Tennessee Foundation to receive and manage contributions to Pat's Fund, and to facilitate their grant-making in support of the mission. To learn more about the Foundation visit the website

About East Tennessee Foundation

East Tennessee Foundation (ETF) is a public, nonprofit, community foundation created for the purpose of building charitable resources to make communities stronger and lives better through thoughtful giving. It is located at 625 Market Street, Suite 1400, Knoxville, TN 37902. For more information, call 865-524-1223 or

To Donate

Visit Donations benefit The Pat Summitt Foundation, a fund of East Tennessee Foundation.

Friday, January 17, 2014

No. 12 Tennessee 67, Mississippi St. 63

Ariel Massengale and Bashaara Graves both scored 13 points, Isabelle Harrison added 10 and No. 12 Tennessee survived a tough challenge from Mississippi State before escaping with a 67-63 win on Thursday night.

Tennessee (14-3, 3-2 Southeastern Conference) has won all 35 games in the series against Mississippi State (14-4, 1-3), but this one was a challenge.

The Lady Vols led 26-23 at halftime and never trailed in the second half. But the Bulldogs cut the lead to 64-61 on a pair of Breanna Richardson's free throws with 26.4 seconds left.

Tennessee got a break on the ensuing possession when Mississippi State's Ketara Chapel committed a foul before the ball was thrown inbounds. Candace Foster made 1 of 2 free throws to put the Lady Vols up 65-61.

Tennessee shot 49 percent (24 of 49) from the field, but had 22 turnovers.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Nikki McCray Has Breast Cancer

South Carolina assistant coach Nikki McCray will continue to coach through the season after being diagnosed with breast cancer, the school announced Monday.

McCray 42, said Monday she was diagnosed in November and was told by doctors her condition was treatable. McCray says she'll continue coaching through the season, if possible. The Gamecocks, ranked 10th last week, are 16-1 and lead the Southeastern Conference with a 4-0 mark.

"This will definitely be a challenge, but I am getting prepared to fight and win this battle," McCray said in a statement released Monday. "We are a close family here at South Carolina. ... I am thankful for everyone's continued support."

McCray, a two-time Olympic gold medalist and three-time WNBA All-Star selection, has helped the Gamecocks to back-to-back 25-win seasons under head coach Dawn Staley.

"When Nikki called me with the unexpected news, my immediate reaction was to become the best supporter for her through this process," Staley said. "Family is important to us, and we all have embraced Nikki's diagnosis with that mindset and providing her with all the moral and physical support she needs."

McCray has been on Staley's staff all six seasons at South Carolina.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Vanderbilt 74, No. 8 Tennessee 63

The eighth-ranked Tennessee Lady Vols are loaded with size, talent and athleticism. The Vanderbilt Commodores know exactly what they need to do to win.

They stuck to the plan Sunday and did just that.

Jasmine Lister scored 22 points and Christina Foggie added 21 as the Commodores upset No. 8 Tennessee 74-63 for a very rare win over their in-state rival. How rare? Well, the Commodores now have nine victories in the 70 games they count having played against Tennessee.

Vanderbilt coach Melanie Balcomb said she reminded her Commodores not to do anything different than normal just because of a big crowd or the opponent.

"The discipline that they showed to be able to do that I'm really proud of that," Balcomb said. "That makes me smile because that's a lot to look forward to. This is very early in the season."

Vanderbilt (14-3, 3-1 Southeastern Conference) snapped a three-game skid against Tennessee with its first win in the series since Feb. 9, 2012.

Marqu'es Webb added 12 for Vanderbilt, which now has won 11 of its last 12.

Tennessee (13-3, 2-2) now has matched the two SEC losses from all last season. Isabelle Harrison snapped a school-record streak of double-doubles at seven as she scored 10 points and had only five rebounds before fouling out. Not having Harrison for 30 minutes hurt, but coach Holly Warlick was more upset with the Lady Vols' poor defense.

"We get up, and we can't stop anybody penetrating so it has nothing to do with Harrison," Warlick said. "It's about what's important on the other end ... Until defense is important to us, we're going to struggle."

Meighan Simmons led the Lady Vols with 19 points. Jasmine Jones had 13 and Cierra Burdick 11.

The Commodores had the seats at Memorial Gym filled with a majority of black and gold instead of the usual Tennessee orange. They looked very comfortable from the start as they outhustled and outplayed Tennessee most of the game.

Balcomb remembers her teams being booed early in her 12-year tenure when hosting Tennessee. She credited the marketing staff, her teams and fans for helping flip that edge.

"Tonight I felt like this was our home court," Balcomb said. "I thought we had more black and gold, and I could feel it in the crowd. That's the neatest thing for me after 12 years. ... It didn't happen overnight."

Vanderbilt played only three 6-foot or better but none taller than then 6-1 Webb. Tennessee's dramatic size difference included five Lady Vols 6-2 or taller.

The Lady Vols used that size in outrebounding Vanderbilt 40-31, but the Commodores outshot them 49.1 percent (26 of 53) to 42.9 percent (27 of 63). They were at their best in the second half as they hit a sizzling 62.5 percent (15 of 24).

Vanderbilt trailed 48-42 when the Commodores went on a 13-2 run that included a jumper by Morgan Batey that gave them their first lead since 29-28 late in the first half. Batey's jumper put Vandy up 51-50, then the sophomore guard had a steal with Lister finishing off the fast break with a layup and Foggie added a layup capping the spurt for a 55-50 lead with 5:38 to go.

"We kept our composure," Lister said.

Tennessee didn't get closer than seven the rest of the way bringing most of the 9,412 fans to their feet for the final couple minutes in celebration.

The Lady Vols led 30-29 at halftime despite being without Harrison for all but a minute of the first half. Harrison, a Nashville native, picked up two fouls within the first 59 seconds and headed to the bench for the rest of the half. The Lady Vols also started sluggishly missing their first six shots. They didn't hit their first field goal until Burdick's jumper with 14:35 left in the half.

Tennessee opened the second half scoring the first nine points with Harrison on the floor taking a 39-29 lead on a bucket by Jones with 16:28 left. Vanderbilt answered with its own 13-5 run, pulling within 44-42 on a jumper by Foggie with 12:12 remaining. Harrison scored 10 points and grabbed five rebounds before fouling out with 9:23 left.

Harrison was whistled for a foul blocking a shot by Foggie and reacted to the call with officials then calling a double technical on the Tennessee center and Webb.

"She's got to keep her composure," Burdick said of Harrison.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Congressman Jimmy Duncan seeks Congressional Gold Medal for Pat Summitt

Congressman John J. Duncan, Jr. (R-Tenn.) introduced legislation Thursday to award Lady Vols Head Coach Emeritus Pat Summitt the Congressional Gold Medal.

The U.S. Congress calls the medal "its highest expression of national appreciation for distinguished achievements and contributions."

Duncan says the measure would bestow the medal to Summitt in recognition of her unparalleled career in sports and for her courage in speaking out about her battle with Alzheimer's disease.

The entire Tennessee Congressional House Delegation joined as co-sponsor of the bill.

Summitt is the winningest coach in basketball history with 1,098 victories. Her teams have won 16 Southeastern Conference Championships and eight national championships, and she has coached in 18 Final Fours and has an 84-percentage winning record as a head coach.

"To me, her most impressive statistic is a 100-percent graduation rate, and she did not allow her players to take easy courses," Duncan said. "She made them prepare for life after basketball, and almost all her players have been successful after leaving the University of Tennessee."

Summitt retired as head coach in 2012 after being diagnosed with early onset dementia, Alzheimer's type. Coach Summitt and her son Tyler established the Pat Summitt Foundation to help lead the fight against the disease.

All Congressional Gold Medal bills must be co-sponsored by at least two-thirds (290) of the Members of the House to be brought up for a vote.

"We Back Pat" Initiative

Three SEC women's basketball games on Jan. 26 will honor former Tennessee coach Pat Summitt as part of the SEC's "We Back Pat" initiative.

One of the games will be Tennessee at Texas A&M (TV: ESPN2, 4 p.m.). South Carolina will face Vanderbilt (ESPN2, 2 p.m.) and Auburn will play Florida (ESPNU, 3 p.m.).

During the game telecasts, ESPN will honor Summitt's leadership through storytelling and in-game graphics. Furthermore, will have additional features relating to the UT coaching legend, who now is the Lady Vols' head coach emeritus.

The SEC's "We Back Pat" is a week-long initiative focused on bringing awareness to The Pat Summitt Foundation. The initiative includes 19 conference games Jan. 19-26 and will promote the cause through in-arena PSAs, "We Back Pat" shooting shirts and several coaches and teams wearing the color purple.

Summitt and her son Tyler launched the foundation on Nov. 27, 2011, after her diagnosis of early onset dementia, Alzheimer's type at the age of 59.

Thursday, January 09, 2014

No. 8 Lady Vols 94, Mississippi 70

Ariel Massengale had 23 points and a career-high seven rebounds Thursday night as No. 8 Tennessee defeated Mississippi 94-70 on a night when the Lady Vols surpassed 5 million in all-time home attendance.

Tennessee (13-2, 2-1 Southeastern Conference) beat Mississippi (9-7, 0-2) for the 25th consecutive time.

Massengale, coming off a career-high 28 points in a win at Georgia on Sunday, reached 20 points in consecutive games for the first time in her career.

Isabelle Harrison added 16 points and 10 rebounds for Tennessee. Andraya Carter had 14 points and Meighan Simmons added 12 points. Diara Moore, Shequila Joseph, Gracie Frizzell and Amber Singletary scored nine points each for Mississippi.

The announced crowd of 10,382 increased Tennessee's all-time home attendance to 5,006,586.

NCAA spokesman Rick Nixon said earlier in the week it's a "safe assumption" that Tennessee is the first women's program to reach the 5 million mark based on the Lady Vols' attendance history, but there isn't a way to officially verify that because the NCAA doesn't measure each school's all-time cumulative attendance.

Amanda Humphrey, a 29-year-old kindergarten teacher from Hampton, Tenn., was the 5-millionth fan and won a prize package that included two 2014-15 season tickets, courtside seats to Thursday's game and a basketball autographed by Lady Vols coach Holly Warlick.

Humphrey had earned the tickets to Thursday's game earlier in the day by winning a trivia contest. On its official Twitter account, the Tennessee women's basketball team offered two free tickets to the first person who correctly answered which Lady Vol was on Ole Miss' coaching staff and how many national titles she won in her college playing career. Humphrey knew that Ole Miss assistant Alex Simmons had played on two national championship teams at Tennessee.

Humphrey's lucky day continued when she coincidentally entered the arena at the exact time to be named the milestone fan.

"I think we're going to go buy lottery tickets when we leave here," Humphrey quipped.

Mississippi wasn't nearly as fortunate.

The Rebels had shown they could challenge a Final Four contender last month when they led by 10 points in the first half of an 87-80 loss at Baylor, which was ranked ninth at the time of their Dec. 18 meeting. But Mississippi couldn't sustain an early advantage Thursday. After Mississippi took an early 4-3 lead, Tennessee pulled ahead for good with a 16-4 run.

Mississippi's upset hopes dwindled when starting forward Tia Faleru picked up three fouls in the first 6 minutes, 45 seconds of the game. Faleru entered the night leading the SEC with 9.9 rebounds per game and tied for sixth in the conference with 16 points per game. She ended up with eight points and nine rebounds despite missing most of the first half.

Tennessee led 45-29 at the midway point after closing the first half on a 9-2 run. Mississippi made the first two baskets of the second half to cut the lead to 12, but Tennessee gradually pulled away from there.

New Tennessee Blue Book dedicated to Pat Summitt

The state of Tennessee is honoring Lady Volunteers Head Coach Emeritus Pat Summitt by dedicating the new edition of the Tennessee Blue Book to her.

The Blue Book is the Tennessee's definitive manual on state government. It includes information about Tennessee history and the three branches of state government and biographies of all members of the Tennessee General Assembly.

The Blue Book is published every two years by the secretary of state's office, and the new edition will be available soon.

Secretary of State Tre Hargett said in a news release that Summitt has inspired countless Tennesseans, first as a basketball coach and more recently as an advocate for Alzheimer's research.

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Pat Summitt Has Ankle Surgery

Quote from Pat: "Undergoing additional ankle surgery today. Expecting good results. Everybody stay warm!"

Sunday, January 05, 2014

Massengale, Harrison Lead Lady Vols Past Georgia

Ariel Massengale scored a career-high 28 points and Isabelle Harrison added 18 points and 10 rebounds to help No. 5 Tennessee hold on for an 85-70 victory over No. 19 Georgia on Sunday.

The Lady Volunteers (12-2, 1-1 Southeastern Conference) have won six straight and 14 of the last 15 series matchups with Georgia.

Krista Donald finished with 18 points and Tiaria Griffin added 15 for the Lady Bulldogs (12-3, 0-2 SEC).

During an 8-minute stretch of the second half, Georgia went on a 31-11 run to cut the lead to 76-70 with 1:12 remaining on Merritt Hempe's two free throws.

But Massengale followed with two free throws that pushed the lead back to eight, Donald committed an offensive foul and Tennessee went up 80-70 on a pair of foul shots by Andraya Carter.

Tennessee was coming off a rare loss in a SEC regular season opener, falling by three points last Wednesday at home to LSU.

Beating Georgia allowed the Lady Vols to avoid losing consecutive SEC regular season games for the just the fourth time in school history and the first the since 1996-97.

Harrison has a double-double in six straight games.

The Lady Bulldogs have dropped three of four following an eight-point setback last week at Vanderbilt.

Khaalidah Miller, who began the game as Georgia's third-leading scorer, was 1 for 9 from the field and finished with five points.

With the scored tied 17-all, the Lady Vols went on a 23-11 run to close out the first half. During that stretch, Harrison had 12 points, six rebounds, one steal, one assist and two turnovers.

Mercedes Russell, Tennessee's highly touted freshman center, made her second career start and first against an SEC opponent. Russell finished with seven points and five rebounds.

In a 3:45 span early in the second half, Massengale scored hit a 3, a jumper, a halfcourt layup, converted a three-play and closed with two straight fastbreak layups to push the lead to 24.

The Lady Vols opened up their first double-digit lead on Carter's straightaway 3-pointer at the 3:07 mark of the first half.

Erika Ford stole the ball from Jasmine Jones and Miller followed by passing behind her back on near the Georgia baseline for a fastbreak layup by Shacobia Barbee that made it 36-26 with 2:02 left in the first.

On Tennessee's next possession, Donald stole the ball from Harrison, but Miller missed the ensuing layup. Harrison grabbed the rebound and sank a couple of free throws to make it 38-26 at the 1:38 mark.

Saturday, January 04, 2014

No. 5 Lady Vols seeking to avoid rare SEC skid

Tennessee is at risk of digging itself an early hole as it attempts to defend its Southeastern Conference regular-season title.

Just three days after opening SEC competition with an 80-77 home loss to No. 16 LSU, the fifth-ranked Lady Vols (11-2, 0-1) play Sunday at No. 19 Georgia (12-2, 0-1). Tennessee has lost consecutive SEC regular-season games just three times in school history, most recently in 1996-97.

''It's not how we wanted to start the SEC, but it is what it is,'' Tennessee guard Ariel Massengale said. ''We have to learn from it.''

Georgia also finds itself needing to bounce back after falling 66-58 at Vanderbilt in its SEC opener Thursday. A loss could send the Lady Bulldogs out of the Top 25 for the first time since the end of the 2010-11 regular season.

It's unusual for these two storied programs to meet under such circumstances. Since the start of the Associated Press poll in 1976-77, Tennessee and Georgia have spent more weeks in the rankings than any other two programs. In all but three of their 60 all-time matchups, at least one of these teams has been ranked in the top 10.

Now they're trying to avoid starting 0-2 in SEC play. Both teams have lost twice in their last three games.

''I think anytime a team loses, they want to come out immediately and get back in the win column,'' Georgia coach Andy Landers said. ''I would suspect both teams are anxious to do that.''

Tennessee wants to erase the defensive lapses that caused the Lady Vols to snap a string of 16 straight victories in SEC openers. Tennessee forced seven turnovers in the last 4 1/2 minutes against LSU while cutting a 16-point deficit to one, but the Lady Tigers had little trouble running their offense before that comeback.

''We just didn't come out ready to play, just plain and simple,'' Tennessee coach Holly Warlick said.

Tennessee has won 13 of its last 14 games with Georgia, which has struggled to take care of the ball lately. The Lady Bulldogs have committed at least 23 turnovers in three straight games.

''They're unforced turnovers, that's the tough part of it,'' Landers said. ''It's decision-making and it's just not good execution in passing and catching.''

It's early enough in the season that both teams could rebound from an 0-2 start in SEC play. History shows they know how to bounce back from that kind of adversity.

Tennessee has started 0-2 in SEC play twice before, in 1984-85 and 1996-97. That 1997 team went on to win the national championship. The only other time Tennessee lost two straight conference games at any point in the regular season was in 1986-87, and that team won the national title.

When Georgia dropped out of the Top 25 at the end of the 2010-11 regular season, it bounced back in the postseason to reach the NCAA tournament regional semifinals.

''Just like Coach Holly said in the locker room, it's not the end,'' Massengale said after the LSU game. ''It's a long season and we have plenty of time to get better.''

Thursday, January 02, 2014

#16 LSU 80, #5 UT 77

Fifth-ranked Tennessee suffered its first home loss in 15 games as the Lady Vols were upset by #16 LSU, 80-77, in a heartbreaker. The loss marked the first victory for former Lady Vols star and Nikki Caldwell as a head coach against her alma mater.

With the game tied at 55-55 midway through the second half, LSU surged on a 20-4 run to take a 75-59 lead with 4:37 left in the game. That lead of 16 proved to be too much for the Lady Vols.

On a night that Tennessee retired Candace Parker's jersey No. 3 prior to the game, the Lady Vols made a furious comeback in the final minutes. Tennessee used an 18-3 run to get within one point in the final seconds.

Isabelle Harrison (career-high tying 26 points) hit short jumper to make it a two-point game, 78-76 with 44 seconds left. With a chance to tie the game at 78, Harrison missed the second of two free throws with 15.9 seconds remaining. LSU's Raigyne Moncrief grabbed the rebound and called timeout with 13.9 left.

Moncrief then made a pair of foul shots to regain a three-point Tigers' lead, 80-77 with 12 seconds left. Tennessee had a chance to tie the game but Andraya Carter's 3-point attempt at the buzzer rimmed out.

The Lady Vols (11-2 overall) dropped an SEC opener for the first time in 17 years, winning every lid-lifter since 1996-97. LSU also moved to 11-2.

LSU's Danielle Ballard equalled her career-high with 25 points as four Tigers scored in double-figures. Dashawn Harden keyed the second-half surge with (12) of her 17 points over the final 11 minutes. Theresa Plaisance added 15 points before fouling out while Jeanne Kenney tallied 14.

Senior Meighan Simmons scored 15 while Ariel Massengale had second double-double of the season with 10 points and 10 assists. Jasmine Jones had eight points and grabbed 10 rebounds.

The game was within seven points for the first 33 minutes prior to a 3-pointer by Harden, which gave LSU the largest lead of the game at 65-56. A minute later Harden added a pair of free throws for the first double-digit margin of the game, 67-57.

LSU continued on a 15-2 run as Harden nailed her fourth 3-pointer of the game with 5:21 left in regulation for a 70-57 lead.

Simmons was called for a technical foul after her fourth personal foul, which disqualified her from the game. Lady Vols head coach Holly Warlick was also whistled for a technical foul and LSU proceeded to make 5-of-6 free throws with 4:37 on the clock to take a commanding 75-59 lead. That burst of points pushed LSU's run to 20-4.

The Lady Vols had tied the game at 55 on a short outback jumper by Jones with 10:46 left in the game. But LSU reeled off the next seven points to lead 62-55 with nine minutes remaining.

The first half saw the Lady Vols' Simmons (15) and LSU's Ballard (17) dual on the scoreboard as Tennessee held a 44-40 lead at intermission. Harrison closed the half in dramatic fashion with a layup as time expired.

Down 28-23, the Lady Vols ripped off 12 points in a row to take a 34-28 on a 3-point play by Harrison and layup by Russell with 4:45 left in the half. During that stretch, LSU missed 11 field goal attempts in a row as the UT defense buckled down.

LSU took a 20-19 lead on a layup by Ballard with 10:37 left in the first half. That was the Lady Tigers' first lead since scoring the first bucket of the game.

Tennessee had won seven straight in the series and now leads the overall series, 44-13.

Prior to the game, Tennessee retired Parker's jersey No. 3. The legendary player ranks third all-time at Tennessee in scoring (2,137) and sixth in rebounding (972). She led the Lady Vols to a pair of National Championships in 2007 and 2008.

The Lady Vols head to Georgia for their first SEC road contest on Sunday at 4 p.m., That game airs on SportSouth and can be heard on the Lady Vol Network.

Tennessee honors Candace Parker

Candace Parker didn't think much about having her jersey retired when she played at Tennessee, saying she was more concerned about putting national championship banners in the Thompson-Boling Arena rafters.

Now she has both.

Parker, who led Tennessee to national titles in 2007 and '08, had her No. 3 jersey retired Thursday night before the fifth-ranked Lady Vols' game against No. 16 LSU.

"I'll tell you one thing, it feels great to be home," Parker said to thunderous applause after her jersey was unveiled.

Parker, a two-time Olympic gold medalist and the reigning WNBA MVP, joined Tennessee coach Holly Warlick and Lady Vols head coach emeritus Pat Summitt for the midcourt ceremony.

After Parker's career highlights played on the overhead scoreboard, the banner was unfurled. Parker, now a forward with the WNBA's Los Angeles Sparks, also received a framed version of her No. 3 Tennessee jersey.

When Parker finished speaking, her 4½-year-old daughter, Lailaa, joined her at midcourt. Lailaa then clapped her hands, jumped up and down and raised her arms in triumph as they all posed for photographs.

"I will always bleed orange -- always," Parker said.

Before the game, Parker said it was appropriate the ceremony came when the Lady Vols played LSU because it gave her an opportunity to reunite with Lady Tigers coach Nikki Caldwell, who worked as an assistant at Tennessee during Parker's college career.

"It's very fitting," Parker said. "Nikki Caldwell was a huge reason why I came to the University of Tennessee and why I became a Lady Vol. It was an honor to play under that coaching staff."

While speaking to the Big Orange Tip Off Club earlier in the day, Parker called signing with Tennessee "the best decision I ever made in my life." She told the story of how she was in the seventh grade when her father gave her a Tennessee hat. Written inside the hat was the message "I don't coach effort," a slogan attributed to Summitt.

"Ever since I got that hat, I think that's kind of when I fell in love with basketball," Parker said. "That's kind of when I wanted to devote my time. Instead of going to the movies with my friends, I was working on my jump shot. ... Instead of going to the mall, I was working on my dribbling handles."

Parker joins Warlick (No. 22), Chamique Holdsclaw (No. 23), Tamika Catchings (No. 24), Bridgette Gordon (No. 30) and Daedra Charles (No. 32) as former Tennessee players to have their jerseys retired. Summitt also has a banner raised in her honor. Parker attend Summitt's banner-raising ceremony last year.

Although she only played three seasons for Tennessee, Parker ranks third on the school's list in career points and sixth in rebounds. The three-time All-America selection dunked seven times during her college career and was the first woman to dunk in an NCAA tournament game.

The banner-raising ceremony continued a busy few weeks for Parker.

Parker plans to leave the States on Friday to head back to Russia, where she plays during the winter. Parker spent Christmas in China, where her husband, Shelden Williams, is playing. She also visited family in Chicago before heading to Knoxville. Parker said all that traveling had been "quite a whirlwind," but the chance to return to campus made it all worthwhile.

"This night couldn't get any more special," Parker said.

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

No. 5 Lady Vols Honoring Candace Parker, Opening SEC play

Tennessee opens Southeastern Conference play Thursday by honoring one of the greatest players in the league's history.

Candace Parker, who led Tennessee to consecutive national titles in 2007 and 2008, will have her No. 3 jersey retired in a ceremony before the fifth-ranked Lady Vols (11-1) host No. 16 LSU (10-2). Parker, the reigning WNBA most valuable player and a two-time Olympic gold medalist, averaged 19.4 points and 8.8 rebounds per game during her college career.

"Candace kind of led the way in understanding if you're 6-3, you're not always in the paint," Tennessee coach Holly Warlick said. "You would get utilized where you're needed and (by) what you can do. Candace could play all positions."

Parker will join Warlick (No. 22), Chamique Holdsclaw (No. 23), Tamika Catchings (No. 24), Bridgette Gordon (No. 30) and Daedra Charles (No. 32) as former Tennessee players to have their jerseys retired. Former Tennessee coach Pat Summitt also has a banner raised in her honor.

Parker will see familiar faces on both benches Thursday.

Warlick and LSU coach Nikki Caldwell were assistants on Summitt's staff during Parker's career. Caldwell left Tennessee to take over UCLA's program after the Lady Vols' 2008 title and now is in her third year as LSU's coach. Warlick and Caldwell are good friends who have raised more than $150,000 through their Champions for a Cause Foundation, a long haul motorcycle ride for breast cancer awareness.

When their teams matched up against each other last season, Bashaara Graves scored the winning basket with eight-tenths of a second left to give Tennessee a dramatic 64-62 victory at LSU.

"It's a tough opener," Warlick said. "Nikki knows us. We know her. It's going to be a very competitive game. It's going to be fun. I'm excited that she gets to come and be a part of Candace getting her jersey retired as well."

Each team enters Thursday having split its last two games.

The Lady Vols followed up a 76-70 loss at No. 4 Stanford - ranked sixth at the time of the game - with a 110-42 rout of Lipscomb. In its last two games, LSU fell 89-79 at North Carolina State and won 72-45 over Jackson State. LSU missed 22 of its first 27 shots against Jackson State before pulling away.

"It was barely a win in our opinion," LSU guard Jeanne Kenney said after the game. "We can't play that way in SEC play. Jackson State did a great job of exposing our weaknesses. We need to get better quickly."

Tennessee expects to get LSU's best shot Thursday as the Lady Vols open defense of their SEC regular-season title. Tennessee forward Cierra Burdick said the familiarity between the two staffs makes this a compelling rivalry.

"I think fans love it," Burdick said. "I think we love it. We want the bragging rights. Holly wants those bragging rights, just as Nikki does. I think it's going to be fun. The level of physicality for this game is tremendous. I'm looking forward to just coming out here and having a really competitive game."

It's the type of game that makes Warlick wish the Lady Vols still had Parker in uniform.

"Let's put (the jersey) on her first," Warlick quipped. "We'll retire it afterward."