Feb. 16, 2012
STARKVILLE, Miss. - #10 Tennessee flexed its defensive muscle with a 57-41 win at Mississippi State. Shekinna Stricklen posted a double-double with 22 points and 12 rebounds. Cierra Burdick was the Lady Vols only other double-figure scorer as she tallied 10.
Tennessee (19-7, 10-3 SEC) limited Mississippi State (14-12, 4-9) to just 13 points in the first half and a paltry 23.5 field goal percentage. Kendra Grant led MSU with 17 and Porsha Grant tallied 15.
"We didn't get a lot of transition looks because we were turning the ball over," Tennessee associate head coach Holly Warlick said. "If we learned anything it's that we've got to take care of the ball more."
Stricklen was 8-for-18 from the field and 5 of 6 from the free-throw line after a slow start.
"I didn't have my composure," Stricklen said. "I was rushing and playing at a fast pace, not my own pace. My teammates really helped me get it back under control."
The win pulls Tennessee even with No. 7 Kentucky atop the SEC standings after the Wildcats' loss tonight to Alabama.
Tennessee has won three of its last four games and five of its last seven.
"It wasn't the prettiest game," Warlick said. "It was a grind for us and we found a way to win."
As poorly as Tennessee shot, Mississippi State shot even worse.
The Bulldogs shot only 24.2 percent (16 of 66) from the floor and trailed by double digits the entire second half.
"We forced enough turnovers and I felt like we really scrapped," Mississippi State coach Sharon Fanning-Otis said. "But we missed some shots and you have to rebound the ball defensively. You've got to get some put-backs and some and-ones, and we're just not there yet."
The Bulldogs are now 0-33 all-time versus the Lady Vols.
"Our defense played hard enough for us to win the ballgame," Fanning-Otis said. "They have awfully good athletes, with great size, at all positions."
Both teams struggled to find offense, starting the game a combined 1-of-21 from the floor. The Lady Vols led 22-13 at the half.
"We played rushed," Warlick said. "Once we settled down and got into a rhythm I thought we did well."
Kendra Grant scored a career-high 17 points on 6-of-13 shooting to lead Mississippi State and Porsha Porter added 15 points.
Diamber Johnson, Mississippi State's leading scorer this season, finished with three points on 1-of-15 shooting.
The Lady Vols continue their two-game swing in Mississippi, travelling to Ole Miss for a Sunday game at 2 p.m. ET. The title airs on the SEC Network and can be heard on the Lady Vol Network.