Jan. 12, 2006
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Even as top-ranked Tennessee remained undefeated, coach Pat Summitt fretted over the Lady Vols' defense.
Tennessee beat No. 13 Georgia 94-85 on Thursday night with Candace Parker leading the way with a career-high 26 points and 10 rebounds.
The Lady Bulldogs (11-4, 2-1 Southeastern Conference) came very close to ending Tennessee's home winning streak against league opponents. Instead, the Lady Vols (16-0, 2-0) won their 62nd straight SEC home game.
"I wanted to put on a uniform for the first time in a long time to go play defense. Ya'll believe that? I just got really frustrated with our transition defense and halfcourt defense," Summitt said.
Defense is always a focal point for Summitt, and the Lady Vols often looked exposed by Georgia.
The Lady Bulldogs were the last to win in Thompson-Boling Arena in December 1996, and they seemed ready to end the drought.
Georgia trailed by nine points with 8 1/2 minutes left but cut it to 77-76 on two free throws by Sherill Baker with 3:53 to go.
Tennessee answered with a quick 7-0 run. Georgia wasn't finished and got within five after Baker made two more free throws with 1:20 remaining. Parker followed with a fade-away jumper, but that didn't put it away. Alexis Kendrick hit a 3 for Georgia to make it 88-84 with 43 seconds left.
That was the Lady Bulldogs' last field goal. Shanna Zolman and Sidney Spencer each made two free throws in the final 39 seconds, and Alexis Hornbuckle got a rebound and drove for a layup with 8 seconds to go.
"We were never worried about the game or anything like that. We stayed calm," Parker said.
Summitt warned the Lady Vols would not stay undefeated for long if they didn't get better. Tennessee's next four games are on the road, including No. 2 Duke on Jan. 23, and Summitt promised practice would center on defense.
"We're living on the edge. We've been living on the edge, and there's going to be nights we're not going to score 94 points or 85 points," she said. "They're a very confident team, but I think they have to be a very realistic team. If they don't step up their defensive intensity and do a better job in their transition defense and one-on-one defense, then they're going to get beat."
Spencer and Zolman each scored 17 points, and Hornbuckle added 12 despite getting into foul trouble late in the game.
Parker, who was 10-of-15 from the field, had six assists.
"As much fun as it was sometimes, we still knew that we weren't playing very well defensively," Zolman said. "Hopefully throughout the course of the season we will improve."
One player the Lady Vols had trouble stopping was Baker, who tied her career high with 25 points on 10-of-20 shooting and had six rebounds.
Tasha Humphrey added 23 points and Kendrick had 11 for the Lady Bulldogs, who had a four-game winning streak snapped.