Jan. 22, 2009
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) -- Tennessee is hardly making this a relaxing season for coach Pat Summitt.
For whatever reason, the Lady Vols haven't played well in the first half, but they usually pull together in the second half and win the close ones.
No. 10 Tennessee trailed by as many as six points early in the second half Thursday night, yet still found a way to beat Arkansas 76-67 and give Summitt her 998th career victory
"They're driving me crazy. I'm just going to be honest with you, it's driving me nuts," said Summitt, in her 35th season at Tennessee. "I like what they can do in the end, but just think -- if they were really focused on being a 40-minute team, we're not living on the edge. Hopefully, they'll get there."
Summitt could get her first chance at win No. 1,000 next Thursday when the Lady Vols host Mississippi.
Angie Bjorklund scored 18 points and freshman Glory Johnson added 15 to lead the Lady Vols (15-3, 4-1 Southeastern Conference) against Arkansas. Johnson also pulled down seven rebounds and had three assists.
Tennessee didn't have an easy time earning the victory as Arkansas (11-8, 0-4) played physical, pulling down 29 rebounds to generate several second chances.
Ceira Ricketts led Arkansas with 22 points and Ashley McCray had 12. They also combined for 16 rebounds.
"I thought our kids fought really hard," Arkansas coach Tom Collen said. "I think our kids really believed that they could play with them, and I'm not sure they believed that going into the game. I hope they believe it now regardless of the fact that we came out on the short end."
There were eight lead changes in the second half as both teams made big shots, underneath the basket as well as from beyond the arc.
After gaining their six-point lead, the Razorbacks went cold, missing eight straight shots during one stretch while the Lady Vols went on an 11-0 run.
"For some reason, we have a better second half than first half," Johnson said. "I don't know what it is, but we just need to learn how to play a 40-minute game."
In the first half, Tennessee got off to a quick start with back-to-back 3-pointers from freshmen Shekinna Stricklen and Brianna Bass. The Razorbacks shot only 33.3 percent from the floor but outrebounded Tennessee 19-16 in the first half.
The Lady Vols led 26-19 before Arkansas went on a 10-2 run to get its first lead at 29-28 with 2 minutes left before the break. To get the lead, Ricketts got a steal near midcourt and took it in for an easy layup.
Tennessee's Sydney Smallbone hit a 3-pointer with 27 seconds left to give the Lady Vols a three-point edge, but Arkansas quickly responded when Shanita Arnold made a 3-pointer with 7 seconds left to tie the score 32-all at halftime.
Tennessee shot 70.4 percent (19-of-27) from the foul line overall to maintain its lead late in the game and hold on for its third straight victory.