Feb. 22, 2009
|February 22, 2009 - 3:00 p.m. ET|
Thompson-Boling Arena (21,678) - Knoxville, Tenn.
The #13/19-ranked Tennessee Lady Vols (18-8, 7-4 SEC) will be looking to end their first two-game skid since 2006 and remain perfect all-time against a much-improved Mississippi State team at Thompson- Boling Arena on Feb. 22 at 3 p.m.
LADY VOLS AT A GLANCEThis is the Lady Vols' 35th season under Head Coach Pat Summitt...She has compiled a staggering 1,001-190 overall record... Registered her record-breaking 1,000th win over Georgia, 73-43, on Feb. 3, 2008 in Knoxville... Collected her 900th coaching win with a 80-68 decision over #19-ranked Vanderbilt on Jan. 19, 2006... She passed Dean Smith (879 wins) for most NCAA collegiate basketball wins of all-time with a 75-54 victory over Purdue on Mar. 22, 2005 ...Her 2006-07 and 2007-08 squads were crowned as the NCAA Champions producing the program's seventh and eighth titles...Last season, UT finished with a 36-2 overall record and were also the SEC Tournament Champions... This year, UT returned five letterwinners, a redshirt freshman and welcomed a talented six-pack rookie class...The Lady Vols sport the youngest team and starting line-up in Summitt's 35 seasons at the helm...
OUR SCHEDULE THIS WEEKThe Lady Vols dropped their second consecutive game for the first time in three years after losing 66-56 at Kentucky on Feb. 19. UT began the week with an ESPN2 "Big Monday" match-up with the No. 7/10-ranked Duke Blue Devils in Knoxville. Duke became only the third team to claim three straight victories over Tennessee in Knoxville. The Lady Vols wrap up the second-to-last week of the regular season with the Mississippi State Lady Bulldogs on Sunday at 3 p.m. in Thompson-Boling Arena.
ON THIS DAY IN LADY VOL BASKETBALL HISTORYUT is 12-3 all-time on Feb. 22, with a 7-2 mark in Knoxville and a 5-1 record on the road. The last time the Lady Vols were in action on Feb. 22, UT claimed a 75-68 win at Arkansas in 2007.
LOOKING BACKLast year at this time, the #3/3-ranked Lady Vols were 24-2 (10-1 SEC) on the campaign after defeating Alabama, 85-58, in Tuscaloosa.
LADY VOLS ON TVTwenty-two Lady Vol regular season games are slated for television this season. Upcoming TV games include: LSU (FS-South) and Vanderbilt (ESPN2). Last season, UT had a school record 36 national television appearances. UT is 12-8 in TV games this year.
FEBRUARY IS FLYING BYAfter today's game, the Lady Vols have just two games remaining in the regular season with one each at home and on the road. For the final week of the regular season, UT will travel to Baton Rouge to face LSU on Feb. 26 and will host rival Vanderbilt on March 1. Before you know it, it will be time for postseason play kicking off with the SEC Tournament in North Little Rock, Ark., Mar. 5-8.
BREAK THE PATTERNTennessee was unable to break a win, loss, win, loss pattern it had developed since Jan. 22 defeating an unranked team and then losing to a ranked opponent in the very next game. UT defeated Arkansas on the road and then lost at #6/5-ranked Auburn... bounced back with a win over Ole Miss and then fell to #2/2-ranked Oklahoma... rebounded with a win over Georgia and then dropped a decision at #11/13-ranked Florida... handled Alabama and then dropped a game to #4/10-ranked Duke... the Lady Vols dropped two straight games for only the 25th time in Pat Summitt's tenure at Rocky Top... UT hasn't lost three-straight games since 1986.
OUR PINK ZONETM EVENT THIS YEAR -- LIVE PINK & BLEED ORANGEThe Lady Vols participated in the Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) Pink ZoneTM campaign on Monday night Feb. 16 when Tennessee played Duke on ESPN2 in Thompson-Boling Arena. UT's "Live Pink -- Bleed Orange" activities included a mobile mammogram unit... distribution of 13,000 tshirts to the fans - alternating pink and white. The Lady Vols wore custom home white adidas uniforms with pink accents; UT staff wore pink polos; ushers and police wore pink ribbons. The Lady Vols partnered with the Susan G. Komen Foundation for several other activities involving breast cancer survivors.
1,000 WINS IN THE RECORD BOOKS -- WHO IS CHASING SUMMITT?Pat Summitt stands with dear friend and active coach Don Meyer (909-305, .749; Northern State, NCAA Div. II, record as of Feb. 21),retired Bob Knight (902-317, .706) of Texas Tech, and Jody Conradt (900-307, .746) of Texas, on the 900-victory plateau among all NCAA coaches*. In reaching such an elite level, she passed a handful of legendary coaches - Dean Smith (879-254, .776), Adolph Rupp (876-190, .822), Herb Magee (875-343, .718; still active at Philadelphia Univ., NCAA Div. II, record as of Feb. 21), Jim Phelan (830- 524, .613), Clarence Gaines (828-447, .649) and Jerry Johnson (821-447, .647). *Feb. 21, 2009 (Gene Bess of NJCAA's Three Rivers Community College, Poplar Bluff, Mo., is still active with a 1080-282 record; Harry Statham of NAIA's McKendree College, Lebanon, Ill., is still active with a 990-379 record).
SUMMING IT UP... THE ROAD TO 1,000 WINS - WHAT A CELEBRATION!To celebrate the 1,000 win milestone Coach Pat Summitt was surprised with the following: a $200,000 bonus for 1,000 career wins; a roast and toast event this Spring-- a night of "A Night of 1,000 Stories." It will be an event to celebrate all of the Lady Vol basketball players and coaches who have helped make the 1,000 victories possible; a star on the Knoxville River Walk; a commemorative plaque from the SEC; the game ball; an original Robert Tino painting celebrating the 1,000 win accomplishment and a little BLING -- a one-of-a-kind bracelet and matching necklace commemorating her 1000th victory.
THIS IS AMAZINGFrom 1980-1997, the Lady Vols claimed a total of six SEC regular season titles in 17 years. From 1998- 2004, Tennessee captured seven consecutive SEC regular season crowns producing an amazing 109-4 record. UT's only league losses were to Vandy, Georgia and LSU (twice) during this stretch.
EIGHT WAS GREATOver the years, eight Lady Vols teams have gone undefeated in SEC play: 1993, `94, `95, `98, 2001, `03, `04 and `07.
UT WINNING STREAKS VS. SEC TEAMSSchool Streak and last loss
Alabama 34 in a row, since 3-3-1984
Arkansas 15 in row, since 12-29-1996
Auburn no streak, 1-25-09
Florida no streak, 2-8-09
Georgia 8 in a row, since 3-6-2004
Kentucky no streak, 2-19-09
LSU 2 in a row, 2-13-2008
Mississippi 17 in a row, since 2-4-1996
Mississippi State 29 in a row, never lost to MSU
South Carolina 36 in a row, since 1-23-1980
Vanderbilt no streak, 1-11-09
LADY VOLS FEELING (BIG) BLUEOn "Pink Zone" night in Lexington, Kentucky packed 6,868 fans into Memorial Coliseum and the Wildcats grabbed their first win over the Lady Vols in Memorial since 1986. UT had won 28 of the previous 29 meetings with UK.
AUBURN GRABS BIG WIN OVER UTAuburn, playing in front of the largest crowd in history (12,067), put an end to Tennessee's dominance with a 82-68 win on Jan. 25. The Tigers had lost 24 of the last 25 and 16 in a row to the Lady Vols.
VANDY STOPPED THE BLEEDING, TOOThe Vanderbilt Commodores halted the Lady Vols 16-game winning streak against them dating back to the 2002 season with a 74-58 dusting of Tennessee in Nashville on Jan. 11, 2009, in the first SEC road game of the year. It also marked VU coach Melanie Balcomb's first victory over Tennessee since becoming the Commodore coach.
RARE SEC ROAD LOSSES FOR SUMMITTLady Vol coach Pat Summitt's teams rarely lose on the road in the SEC. The loss to Vanderbilt on Jan. 11, 2009 was the 30th SEC road loss suffered by a Summitt-coached Lady Vol team and halted a 17-game SEC road winning streak. Two weeks later, UT also lost, this time at #6/5 Auburn and two weeks after that #11/13 Florida defeated the Lady Vols. Add another two weeks and another SEC road loss for UT, this time a 66-56 decision a the hands of the Kentucky Wildcats.
AMAZING AT HOME VS. THE SECSince Tennessee began contesting games with SEC opponents, the Lady Vols have produced a 168-12 record in home games. Only six SEC teams have ever managed a victory over the Lady Vols in Knoxville - Auburn, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, LSU and Ole Miss. Georgia has won three games on UT's turf while Auburn, Kentucky, Ole Miss and LSU have registered two wins each and Florida one win. Georgia was the only team to defeat UT at home in the 1990s (1991 & 1996). LSU and Florida are the only SEC teams to defeat UT at home in the 21st century.
SEC ROOKIE OF THE WEEKTennessee freshman Shekinna Stricklen (Morrilton, Ark.) was named SEC Freshman of the Week (Dec. 29-Jan. 3) for the second time this season, after helping the Lady Vols to a pair of wins over Gonzaga, 77- 58, and the come-from-behind win at Rutgers, 55-51. The rookie scored 12 points and grabbed six boards, while dishing out a career-high five assists and making four steals in the win over the Bulldogs on Dec. 30. On Jan. 3 against Rutgers, Stricklen notched her first career double-double with team-highs of 16 points and 11 rebounds and was named the CBS Chevrolet Player of the Game after leading the Lady Vols to a 20-point comeback win, the largest in school history. Additionally, Stricklen was named SEC Freshman of the Week (Dec. 15-22) for the first time this season, after leading the Lady Vols to a 79-69 upset overtime win over #3/4-ranked Stanford on Dec. 21. After missing the game at Old Dominion on Dec. 18 due to illness, the rookie came back strong to lead the Lady Vols over the Cardinal. She scored a career high 25 points including the first eight of the Lady Vols 11 points in overtime. For good measure, she grabbed seven rebounds, snagged three steals and registered a career high four assists.
GLORY BE -- SEC ROOKIE OF THE WEEKLady Vol rookie Glory Johnson has picked up SEC Rookie of the Week honors twice this season. She received the award for the week of Nov. 23-30 after leading the Lady Vols to wins over Western Carolina (83-56) and DePaul (88-67). In each game, she scored a season-high 19 points. Johnson was also named SEC Freshman of the Week for the opening week of the new campaign after leading UT to a 68-39 win over San Francisco with 17 points and 12 rebounds.
SEC COACHES SELECT LADY VOLS AS #2Vanderbilt was predicted to win the SEC women's basketball regular season championship. The Commodores were 25-9, 11-3 in the SEC last season. VU tops the order of finish with Tennessee, Auburn, Georgia, LSU and Florida rounding out the top half of the league. Kentucky comes in at seven while Mississippi St., Ole Miss, South Carolina, Arkansas and Alabama round out the bottom half of the conference. Auburn senior guard DeWanna Bonner was named SEC Preseason Player of the Year while three Lady Vols were selected to either the first or second teams.. Joining Bonner, on the All- SEC First Team were UF's Marshae Dotson and Sha Brooks, UGA's Ashley Houts, LSU's Allison Hightower, Ole Miss' Shawn Goff, UT's Angie Bjorklund, and VU's Christina Wirth. Second team: AU's Whitney Boddie and Sherell Hobbs, UGA's Angel Robinson, UK's Victoria Dunlap, MSU's Marneshia Richard, USC's Demetress Adams, Tennessee's Vicki Baugh and Shekinna Stricklen, and VU's Jennifer Risper.
UT PICKED NUMBER TWO AT SEC MEDIA DAYSTennessee was picked to finish second in the SEC race with 261 points by a vote of conference and national media members. UT sophomore Angie Bjorklund and freshman Shekinna Stricklen were each selected to the All-SEC Second Team. Vanderbilt was picked to finish first with 273 points, followed by UT, Auburn, Georgia, and LSU. Auburn's DeWanna Bonner was tabbed as Player of the Year. Joining her on the All- SEC First Team was Vanderbilt's Christina Wirth, Florida's Marshae Dotson, Georgia's Ashley Houts and Ole Miss' Shawn Goff. Bjorklund, the 2007-08 SEC Freshman of the Year and Stricklen, were joined on the second team by Whitney Boddie of Auburn, Sha Brooks of Florida, Angel Robinson of Georgia and Allison Hightower of LSU.
AGAINST THE SECTennessee owns a 405-63 record all-time record vs. 12 teams from the SEC. UT maintains a winning record against every team in the SEC.
SEC LEAGUE PLAYUT owns a league best record of 277-38 (.879) against all SEC teams dating back to the 1982-83 season.
SEC REGULAR SEASON STORYUT's last SEC win at home:
Alabama, Feb. 12, 2009, 80-61
UT's last SEC win away:
Arkansas, 76-67, 1-22-09
UT's last SEC loss at home:
LSU, 78-62, 2-14-08
UT's last SEC loss away:
Kentucky, 66-56, 2-19-09
15 SEASONS OF AT LEAST 10 SEC WINSIn the win over Alabama on Feb. 21, 2008, Tennessee claimed its 10th SEC victory of the 2007-08 season. The Lady Vols have now registered double-digit victories in conference play an incredible 15 times. Since the 1991-92 season when SEC play expanded, the Lady Vols have won at least 10 games in the following years: 1992-10 wins, 1993-11 wins, 1994-11 wins, 1995-11 wins, 1998-14 wins, 1999-13 wins, 2000-13 wins, 2001- 14 wins, 2002- 13 wins, 2003- 14 wins, 2004-14 wins, 2005- 13 wins, 2006-11 wins, 2007- 14 wins and 2008-13 wins.
TWOSIESThe Lady Vols will face Kentucky and Mississippi State twice again this season and Vanderbilt twice as the "natural rival" in SEC play.
THE 4-1-1 ON MISSISSIPPI STATEMississippi State battled No. 5/4 Auburn into the game's final minute on Feb. 15. However, the Lady Tigers scored the game's final four points to squeeze out a 63-58 victory at Humphrey Coliseum. The Lady Bulldogs saw a modest three-game conference win streak snapped. The teams were tied 55-55 with 2:26 left in the contest. MSU then missed a layup on its next possession. Then down 57-55, the Lady Bulldogs had a missed jumper and missed putback attempt. Auburn pushed the advantage to four before Alexis Rack converted an oldfashioned 3-point play with 18 seconds left. The Tigers then hit four straight free throws to close out the win. AU's DeWanna Bonner, the conference's top scorer, paced Auburn with 25 points and 10 rebounds. Whitney Boddie added 18 points, while Sherell Hobbs scored 13 points. Rack paced the Lady Bulldogs with 15 points and six assists, while Robin Porter added 13 points. Armelie Lumanu had a team-high 10 rebounds, while Porter had eight rebounds.
OUR LAST MEETINGThe No. 13/15-ranked Tennessee Lady Vols escaped from Starkville, Miss., with a 63-56 win over the Mississippi State Lady Bulldogs on Jan. 15. Freshman Shekinna Stricklen led the Lady Vols in scoring for the fifth time this season and the third time in the last four games with a game-high 15 points. The rookie struggled from the field, going only 2-of-11, but was a perfect 10-of- 10 from the charity stripe. She earned praise from Head Coach Pat Summitt on not letting her offensive woes effect her defensive tenacity, as Stricklen grabbed seven boards, three of which were defensive, and three steals. Tennessee began the game 0-of-8 from the field before freshman Glory Johnson made a layup at the 16:34 mark of the first half. The Lady Bulldogs quickly responded with 10-0 run to the 10:41 point, grabbing a 10-3 lead. The young Lady Vols continued to fight and put together a 10-2 run of their own over 4:04 midway through the first stanza, taking a 23-19 lead. The UT defense continued to pressure the Lady Bulldogs in the second half. After State converted 4-of-8 three-point attempts in the first 20 minutes, it managed only to make only 1-of-6 from behind the arc in the second half. Senior Alex Fuller continues to provide a key leadership role as the lone upperclassman on the squad. In her 28 minutes of action, she grabbed nine rebounds, to go with six points and two steals, while not committing a turnover. Her nine boards are the most she has pulled down in a Southeastern Conference game in her career. The win marked the 400th time Tennessee has downed a league foe and improves the Lady Vols to a remarkable 267-35 in conference games.
HAILING FROM THE MAGNOLIAFormer Lady Vol Pashen Thompson is the only UT player to don the Orange and White from the state of Mississippi. Thompson was at Rocky Top from 1993-97.
COMMON OPPONENTSOutside of SEC play, Mississippi State and Tennessee have played one common opponent so far this season. Tennessee defeated Louisiana Tech 94-59 in Knoxville on Nov. 23. Mississippi State claimed a 72-42 victory over the Lady Techsters on Dec. 3 in Starkville.
UT-MSU FACING THE RANKEDTennessee faced their ninth ranked opponent of the 2008-09 season in the loss to #7/10-ranked Duke, 62- 54, on Feb. 16. UT is 2-7 in games versus ranked teams out of 25 total contests. Meanwhile Mississippi State will be taking on their sixth ranked team out of a total of 27 games when they face #13/19Tennessee. MSU is 1-4 vs. ranked teams this season, with their only win coming on Feb. 5 over No. 20/22 Vanderbilt, 66-61, in Starkville.
THE UT-MSU SERIESTennessee leads 29-0
MSU SERIES TIDBITSTennessee leads the series with Miss. State, 29-0. The two teams began their series during the 1985-86 season at Starkville. The closest meeting between UT and MSU was the 2003 SEC Tournament match-up won by the Lady Vols, 76-75, on a Kara Lawson buzzer-beater.
COACHING NOTESMSU head coach Sharon Fanning was a graduate assistant under Pat Head Summitt during the 1975-76 season. Fanning is one of over five dozen former players, graduate assistants or assistant coaches who have landed collegiate head coaching jobs after their days at Tennessee.
AVERAGE SCOREThe average score of a UT-MSU game is 79.9 to 59.9. The Lady Vols average margin of victory is +20.0 points.
STATE IS THE ONLY ONEMississippi State is still the only SEC school winless against the Tennessee Lady Vols. Entering the 1996-97 season, three SEC teams had never posted a win over the Lady Vols -- Arkansas, Florida and Mississippi State. In that 10-loss national championship season, two of the three picked off the Lady Vols -- Arkansas grabbed a 77-75 win in Fayetteville on Dec. 29, 1996 and Florida turned the trick, 71-62, on Jan. 21, 1997 in Gainesville for the first times ever.
THE LINE-UP CAROUSELLady Vol coach Pat Summitt started her 10th different line-up of the season in the loss to Duke. There has been no "common denominator" player to start in all 26 games. Freshman forward Glory Johnson started 23 consecutive games before being replaced by RS-freshman Kelley Cain. In the last two NCAA title years, UT utilized five different line-ups in 2008 and four line-ups in 2007. Summitt changed the starters seven times in 2006 and a whopping 10 times in 2005. In that 2004-05 fruit-basket turnover line-up, there was no common denominator player for the first time in five years, either.
UT'S OFFENSIVE OPPORTUNITIESIn all games, this is how Tennessee has shot from the field: 60% FG: none; 50%FG: MTSU (.517), Gonzaga (.500); 40%FG: WCU (.475), Auburn (.473), Georgia (.456), Alabama (.451), Arkansas (.448), Oklahoma (.429), South Carolina (.429), LaTech (.429), DePaul (.427), Virginia (.413), Stanford (.403), San Francisco (.400), Rutgers (.400); 30%FG: Vandy1 (.393),ODU (.386), Fla. (.368), KY1 (.361), GWU (.353), Ole Miss (.351), KY2 (.350), UT-Chattanooga (.344), Miss St. (.339), Texas (.333), Duke (.321); 20%FG: none.
DEEE ----- FENSEIn all games, this is how the opposition has shot from the field: 50%FG: Oklahoma (.534), Virginia (.500), 40%FG: Auburn (.482), Vandy1 (.462), KY1 (.455), KY2 (.444), Alabama (.419), Duke (.418), MTSU (.412), Arkansas (.404), GWU (.404), Rutgers (.404); 30%FG: ODU (.385), South Carolina (.379), Ole Miss (.375), De- Paul (.373), Gonzaga (.371), Fla. (.370), Texas (.369), UT-Chattanooga (.365), Miss. St. (.362), Stanford (.362), Georgia (.354), LaTech (.313), 20%FG: WCU (.298); 10%FG: San Francisco (.186)
2008-09 WON-LOSS DIFFERENTIALWins: +35 (1), +30 (1), +29 (2), +27 (1), +21 (1), +19 (2), +12 (2), + 10 (1), +9 (1), +7 (1), +5 (2), +4 (1) +3 (1), +1 (1)
Losses: -16 (1), -14 (2), -10 (2), -9 (1), -1 (1)
IN PINK ZONETM GAMESTennessee has a 2-2 record when playing in PINK ZONETM games. In 2007, the Lady Vols defeated Alabama in Tuscaloosa, 80-51. Last year, 17,690 pinkclad fans were on the edge of their seats as Tennessee defeated #5-ranked Rutgers 59-58 in a controversial finish in Knoxville. This season will be the first opportunity to play in a PINK ZONETM game both at home and on the road. A season-high crowd of 16,990 watched the Lady Vols lose to #7/10-ranked Duke on Feb. 16 in Knoxville and a UK season-high 6,868 fans saw the Wildcats grab a 66-56 win.
ANEMIC OFFENSEThe Lady Vols need to load up on some iron pills. Against Duke, Tennessee turned in its most anemic offensive showing of the season registering just .321 from the field and an equally paltry 56 percent from the charity stripe.
YES I CAINLady Vol center Kelley Cain was one of two bright spots for UT on Thursday at Kentucky. The six foot, six inch post came off the bench to score a career-high 16 points, grab four rebounds, block two shots and pick two steals.
LITTLE BASS WAS BIGLady Vol diminutive point guard Briana Bass was a bright spot in the loss to Duke. She came off the bench to turn in a career high 14 points. Bass was UT's most efficient player on the night -- 3-4 FG, 2-2 3FG, 6-6 FT, two defensive boards, one assist and one turnover in 24 minutes.
DOESN'T HAPPEN OFTEN BUT IT'S DUKE & UK AGAINThe Lady Vols have lost back-to-back games just 25 times in Coach Pat Summitt's 35-year career. Prior to Thursday's loss at UK, the last time it had happened, UT lost at #2 Duke, 75-53, and at Kentucky, 66-63, on Jan. 23 & 26, 2006. Before that, you have to go all the way back to the 1996-97 season for back-to-back losses.
BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR...Tennessee has suffered four SEC losses this season. Following each opponents' giant win over the Lady Vols, they went down in defeat in their next game or road game. Vandy beat UT, 74-58 in Nashville on Jan. 11 and lost at Georgia Jan. 22, 66-55. Auburn beat UT, 82-68, on The Plains on Jan. 25 and then lost at Georgia, 67-58, on Jan. 29. Finally, Florida pulled off a 66-57 win over UT in Gainesville on Feb. 8 and then lost at Vandy on Feb. 12, 84-68. Kentucky travels to LSU today.
BAUGHLESS TRENDSSince sophomore Vicki Baugh was lost for the season due to an ACL injury versus Oklahoma, her Lady Vol teammates have produced a 2-3 record and tried to pick up the slack. In the last five games, three players are averaging double-figure scoring led by RS freshman Kelley Cain's 11.8 ppg. Graduated RS-senior Alex Fuller has taken her game up a couple levels with 11.2 ppg and a team-leading 8.4 rpg and 3.0 apg. Sophomore Angie Bjorklund adds 10.8 ppg and a team-best 3.2 apg.
TWO OF A KIND ISN'T ENOUGHIn Thursday's loss at Kentucky, senior Alex Fuller and redshirt freshman Kelley Cain combined to score 29 of UT's 56 points on 12-of-21 shooting. The rest of the Lady Vol squad mustered only a 9-of-39 effort from the floor. The pair also grabbed 12 of 35 boards, to go with 5 of 6 blocks and 5 of 8 steals.
DODGED ANOTHER BULLETRookie Shekinna Stricklen played only nine minutes in Tennessee's 80-61 win over Alabama after suffering an injury to her patella. Stricklen responded to rehab and was back on the practice floor on Sunday in preparation for the game versus Duke.
STEPPED UP VS. BAMAA pair of sharpshooters in sophomore Sydney Smallbone and rookie Alicia Manning provided some good minutes in the win over Alabama. Smallbone was one off of her career high and tossed in 11 points versus Bama, while Manning added 10 in the second doubledigit production of her rookie year.
SEMI FULL STRENGTHSince losing Cait McMahan to crummy knees before the Vanderbilt game on Jan. 11 and Vicki Baugh to an ACL injury in the Oklahoma game on Feb. 2, the Lady Vols were finally at semi full strength for the game against Alabama. Rookie Amber Gray was back in the line-up for the first time in four games as all 10 dressed players saw court time.
FRESHMEN, SHESH-MENYes, yes... we all know Tennessee has a young team facing a typically tough slate. How tough?? Currently, UT has the number ONE strength of schedule (SOS) in the nation. The Lady Vols' RPI is fifth behind Oklahoma, UConn, Maryland and Auburn.
LEADING AT THE BREAKThe Lady Vols have led at halftime in 18 of 25 games this season. Tennessee was tied at the half with Texas (31-all), Arkansas (32-all) and Kentucky (29-all)... the Lady Vols trailed 33-13 after 20 minutes at Rutgers... Vandy jumped out to a 31-23 halftime lead and Auburn had a 31-26 lead. Oklahoma fashioned a five-point, 41- 36 lead over the Lady Vols at the break and Duke was up 28-23. On average, UT holds a 33.9 to 30.1 halftime lead. The Lady Vols have outscored the opposition 37.2 to 32.8 in the second stanza.
OUR OWN WORST ENEMYAgainst Florida, the two teams traded 12 lead changes and saw the score tied eight times. Tennessee started on a roll with 10:25 left taking a 47-41 lead. Three minutes later, it was 50-43 Lady Vols advantage with 7:29 showing. UT still led 52-51 with 5:42 left before hitting the turnover, foul, busted defense and missed shot wall. Rookie Shekinna Stricklen pulled her team within two points 55-57 with two minutes left but UT allowed a trey and never recovered.
LAST TIME WITH FOUR SEC LOSSES ON FEB. 22The Cinderella Season of 1996-97 keeps coming up in the conversation when folks are talking about the Lady Vols' losses this season. The 29-10 team from a decade ago was history-making as it won the 1997 NCAA title with 10 losses. During that SEC season, UT lost to Georgia at home, at Arkansas and to Florida on the road on Jan. 21 before going on a six-game SEC winning streak. The team picked up its fourth SEC loss of the year at LSU on Feb. 22 and finished the conference slate at 8-4. In the SEC tourney, UT lost to Auburn by a deuce, 61-59. It was the final loss of the season as the team ran the table in the NCAA Tournament.
IT WAS BRUTAL, I TELL YOUThe week of Feb. 2-9 was brutal. Tennessee had three games on the docket in seven days -- UT started the week by losing at #2-ranked Oklahoma (80-70) on Mon., Feb. 2 and then picked up historic win number 1,000 on Thurs., Feb. 5 with a 73-43 win over Georgia. "Murderers Row" culminated with a trip to #11/13 Florida on Feb. 8 where UT lost a seven-point second half lead and fell 66-57.
OUR FIRST 40-MINUTE GAMEMake no doubt about it, Pat Summitt was thrilled to achieve her 1,000th win milestone in the victory over Georgia on Feb. 5. Perhaps more rewarding to the Tennessee skipper was the 40-minute game her young team delivered. Summitt's constant challenge to the "Baby Lady Vols" was to put together two consistent halves of basketball. Against the Dawgs, UT grabbed 45 rebounds and allowed Georgia just five offensive boards and 27 total. After a three-game "Miscue Fest" of 71 turnovers, the Lady Vols ball security was much better with just 11 turnovers. Four players turned in double-figure scoring and two players registered double-doubles led by freshman Glory Johnson with a career high 20 points, 10 rebounds and NO turnovers in 35 minutes. After rookie starter Alicia Manning suffered a thigh injury just 20 seconds into the game, fellow frosh Briana Bass took over at the point. Bass scored three points, grabbed three boards, dished three assists and had no turnovers in 29 minutes. Defensively, redshirt frosh Kelley Cain swatted away six shots while tossing in a dozen points and grabbing eight rebounds in 25 minutes.
WE SHOWED HER THE MONEYUT President Dr. John Petersen and Women's Athletics Director Joan Cronan announced on Feb. 5, 2009, that Pat Summitt signed a contract extension that will run through 2014. Summitt will earn $1.4 million for 2008-09 and receive a $200,000 bonus for her 1,000 wins at Tennessee. "For the past 35 years, Pat has been a tremendous ambassador for our state, our University, college basketball and women's athletics," said Women's Athletics Director Joan Cronan. "We're excited that her new contract will take her through her 40th season with the Lady Vols." The contract also includes two lifetime achievement bonuses - $500,000 in 2009-10 and a $1 million longevity bonus in 2013-2014 to reward her for her 40 years as head coach of the Lady Vols.
ROOKIES CARRYING THE LOADUT's seven rookies are handling 68% (48.5 points per game) of the team's total of 71.2 ppg scoring load and 64.6% (28.4 rebounds per game) of the total of 44.0 rpg.
2008-09 RANKED TIDBITSTennessee is 2-7 against ranked opponents this season. UT lost to #7/10 Duke (62-54) after dropping a pair of games to ranked teams losing on Feb. 2, 2009, to #2-ranked Oklahoma, 80-70, and #11/13-ranked Florida, 66-57 on Feb. 8. The Lady Vols previously lost a pair of games to SEC ranked foes on the road -- Jan. 25, 2009, falling to #6/5-ranked Auburn, 82-68 and two weeks earlier, #24-ranked Vanderbilt sent UT home, 74- 58. UT claimed its second win over a ranked team this season with a 55-51 road win at #15/14 Rutgers. Number 3/4-ranked Stanford is the highest ranked opponent the Lady Vols have defeated this season (a 79-69 OT win)... The Lady Vols lost at #6/5-ranked Texas, 73-59... Virginia was Tennessee's first ranked opponent of the 2008-09 season... The Cavs were ranked #16/15 when they defeated the #5/6 Lady Vols, 83-82... Last season, Tennessee faced a total of 20 ranked opponents in 38 games and produced a 18-2 record...
REVIEWING THE GOOD...The Lady Vols have been hitting the boards... Tennessee is grabbing 43.6 rpg and outrebounding the opposition by +7.1 (36.5)...Duke schooled the Lady Vols on the boards, 49-36...Leading the charge on the boards is rookie Glory Johnson who is grabbing 7.3 rpg. If Johnson could deliver a double-digit rebounding slate, she'd be the first Lady Vol since Patricia "Trish" Roberts to record extra digit rebounds in a season... Roberts averaged 14.2 rpg (1976-77)...Quick hands and feet for Shekinna Stricklen and Glory Johnson have resulted in the rookies leading the team in thefts this season as "Kinna" has 52 steals and Johnson 35... Stricklen has the individual team lead with five steals against GWU... Speaking of team leaders, Briana Bass dished out eight helpers in the game versus Louisiana Tech... she was one assist off the Lady Vol rookie record of nine set by Jody Adams twice during her freshman campaign in 1989-90.
THEN THERE'S THE BAD AND/OR UGLY...Perhaps one of the reasons UT has been so tough on the boards is that there are a lot of misses on the offensive end this year resulting in a 40.6 percent field goal shooting accuracy... The team took a big step in the right direction notching their second 50% game of the season reaching 50 percent (exactly) against Gonzaga. Previously, UT connected on 51.7 percent from the field vs. MTSU and fell off the apple cart one game later posting the worst FG percentage of the season (at that point) with 33% at Texas... With the exception of Angie Bjorklund, the Lady Vol threepoint bombardiers have only reached 29.3 percent of their tries... The young players need to embrace the "Love thy neighbor" credo... The Lady Vols have only registered 343 assists on 660 made field goals... Free throws have fallen to 66.6 percent -- missing charity tosses could cost a bigger win down the line... In the second effort department, the Lady Vols are looking to improve on 15.8 ppg second chance points.
NEARING 200,000 AT HOMEThe Lady Vols have eclipsed 100,000 fans at home games for the last 15 consecutive years. A total of 179,996 folks have attended 13 games at home this season for an average of 13,846. A season high 16,990 showed up at the Duke game on Feb. 16.
LOSING CAITY-MACThe Lady Vol roster dipped to 11 players when redshirt sophomore basketball player Cait McMahan decided to change her role with the team. The 5'4" guard had been experiencing continued pain, swelling and dysfunction in her right knee following a number of surgeries and procedures, the most recent on Sept. 3, 2008. After consulting with her orthopaedic physicians, Dr. Greg Mathien and Dr. Russ Betcher, Lady Vol Head Coach Pat Summitt, and Jenny Moshak, University of Tennessee Associate Athletics Director for Sports Medicine, McMahan arrived at the joint decision (on Jan. 10, 2009) that it was time for her to step away from a playing role.
LADY VOL STREAKSThe Lady Vols last lost at home was against Duke, 62-54, since then UT has not played a home game. Duke's win snapped a 10-game Lady Vol home winning streak since fellow ACC foe Virginia won 83-82 on Nov. 17, 2008. The last time UT lost on the road was on Feb. 19, 2009 at Kentucky, since then, UT has not played a road game. The last time the Lady Vols lost on a neutral court was against LSU, 63-54, on March 3, 2007. Since that time, UT is 15-0 on a neutral court.
LAST TIME WITH EIGHT LOSSES ON FEB. 22The Cinderella Season of 1996-97 keeps coming up in the conversation when folks are talking about the Lady Vols' losses this season. The 29-10 team from a decade ago was history-making as it won the 1997 NCAA title with 10 losses. During that season, the champs had seven losses by Jan. 21 before going on an eight-game winning streak through the heart of the SEC schedule in February. Loss number eight that year came on Feb. 22, 83-78, at LSU. That team featured a couple of sophomores in Chamique Holdsclaw and Kellie Jolly and a pair of stubborn and motivated seniors in Abby Conklin and Pashen Thompson.
IF FIRST YOU DON'T SUCCEEDTennessee stormed into the first half of the game against Oklahoma looking like giant killers sprinting out to a 15-point, 33-18 lead with 7:58 to go in the first half when the eight minute media time out was called. Five minutes later, OU finished its 19-0 run out and UT was behind 37-33.
LOST THE GAME-- BIGGER LOSS WAS BAUGHSophomore Vicki Baugh looked like her old self against Oklahoma. Baugh had seen spotty action since injuring her knee in practice on Jan. 1. Against OU, she was running the floor, playing tough "D" in the post against the formidable Paris twins and helping to direct traffic. Then it happened again with 2:37 left in the game. The anterior cruciate ligament in her surgically repaired left knee blew out. Baugh suffered a similar injury in the 2008 NCAA title game versus Stanford last April. Surgery will be announced at a later date.
BAUGH'S NUMBERS WERE MISLEADINGBefore she returned to the court for 26 strong minutes against Oklahoma (11 points, five rebounds and two steals), Tennessee's cumulative stat sheet was a little misleading regarding Vicki Baugh. Heading into the Oklahoma game, it said that the sophomore post had played in 13 games, started 10 and was averaging 6.2 ppg and 7.5 rpg. Well sort of... Baugh missed the first two games of the year as her surgically repaired knee continued a course of rehab. She then started the next 10 games before suffering an injury on New Year's Day prior to the game at Rutgers. She missed four games and returned to the court against South Carolina. She logged 2:52 and scored a bucket before the knee started to bother her. She attempted to play at Arkansas but managed just 1:24 on the court before her knee took a shot under the basket. After a good practice before Auburn, Baugh appeared ready for some solid minutes. This time the knee lasted just 20 seconds. Prior to the Rutgers game, Baugh was averaging 7.8 ppg and 9.7 rpg and had just come off of a 12 point, 15 rebound performance at Gonzaga for her third double-double of the season.
OUR SLOGAN SHOULD BE -- BALL SECURITY IS BEAUTIFULFor most of the season, the Lady Vols were averaging around 16 turnovers per game. Not a great number but manageable with the up tempo style. In games versus #6/5-ranked Auburn, Ole Miss and #2-ranked Oklahoma, the UT coaches were ready to pull out their collective hair after their young charges gave up the ball 71 times. Tennessee had not given up the ball that many times in the previous five-and-a-half games.
AND THEN THERE WERE 10The Lady Vol ranks have been depleted to 10 active players for the remainder of the season. After redshirt sophomore Cait McMahan decided to quit playing basketball due to cranky knees and Vicki Baugh's seasonending ACL injury, Tennessee is down to a lone graduated senior, two sophomores and seven rookies to finish out the season.
ANGIE B TO THE RESCUEAgainst Ole Miss, sophomore Angie Bjorklund went scoreless in the first half for the second game in a row. In the second stanza, she was 2-7 from three point land before launching a perfect game winning, nothing but net, trey with 6.8 ticks left against Ole Miss to give UT the 60-59 win.
MANNING BECAME 56TH AND CAIN 57THRookies Alicia Manning, a 6'1" freshman from Etowah, Ga., and Kelley Cain, a 6'6" RS-freshman from Atlanta, Ga., became the 56th and 57th all-time Lady Vol to earn a starting assignment as a Tennessee rookie. Manning started at point guard versus Vanderbilt on Jan. 11, 2009 and Cain picked up her first start vs. Alabama on Feb. 12, 2009.
HOT POTATO HOOPS TIMES TWOIn dropping the fourth game of the year and the second in the SEC, the young Lady Vols really looked the part of "young" on Jan. 25 in front of 12,067 recordsetting fans at #6/5-ranked Auburn. Four Tennessee players had four turnovers each and a total of 23, leading to 29 points for the Tigers. In the next game versus Ole Miss, UT tallied 24 give-aways. Senior Alex Fuller had an uncharacteristic 7 miscues but balanced it with her first career double-double of 11 points and 11 rebounds. UM managed 17 points off of TO's. At Oklahoma, Tennessee coughed up the ball 24 times.
STRICKLY SPEAKINGA bright spot in the loss at Auburn was a career afternoon from Shekinna Stricklen who tossed in 26 points. Fellow rookie Glory Johnson recorded her fourth career double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds.
SELFLESS ACT BY FULLERTennessee Lady Vol basketball graduate forward Alex Fuller has decided to exchange her number 44 jersey for that of teammate Cait McMahan starting with the game versus South Carolina. Prior to the Vanderbilt game on Jan. 11, McMahan, a redshirt sophomore point guard, decided to step into the role of a student assistant after chronic knee soreness finally sidelined her. Fuller will now wear McMahan's number 2 jersey for the remainder of the season. "Cait is such a competitor and a leader for our team," said Fuller. "We are both Tennessee girls and grew up wanting to wear the orange jersey. I am doing this as a tribute to Cait. I know how much she wants to be on the floor helping to lead this team. There is a lot of heart in the number 2 jersey." A few years back, Fuller was forced to the sidelines during her rookie season to give her surgically repaired knees a chance to rehab. She remembers when Shanna Zolman had a surprise for teammate Sidney Spencer on Feb. 24, 2005 after Spencer tore her ACL. Zolman wore Spencer's #1 jersey for the rest of the season.
CAIN BACK VERSUS AUBURN & OLE MISSRedshirt rookie Kelley Cain, a 6-6 post was back in the line-up at Auburn after sitting out the South Carolina and Arkansas games to rest her knees. Cain came down hard in the game at Mississippi State and irritate her surgically repaired knee. Against Auburn, she gutted out 16 minutes and had six points, five rebounds and three blocked shots. She battled the bigs from Ole Miss and tallied eight points and four boards in 13 minutes. ROOKIES SHOWED A LITTLE GRIT After falling behind to Arkansas by six points, 44-38, with 16:02 to go on Thurs., Jan. 22, a couple of Lady Vol rookies showed some fire and a little grit in a three minute spurt to reclaim the lead. Glory Johnson started things off with a traditional three point play... Lyssi Brewer made a defensive stop with a blocked shot and then made a layup off a beautiful feed from Johnson... Johnson then fed Shekinna Stricklen for a lay-up to tie the game at 45-all... A steal by Johnson led to another lay-up opportunity for Alicia Manning to put the Lady Vols up by two, 47-45.
BLINK AND WE WERE GONE IN JANUARYThe Ole Miss game was just the third home date in the month of January for UT. The Lady Vols opened the SEC slate with a home win over Kentucky (69-64) on Jan. 8 and took a tough 68-56 win over Carolina on Jan. 18. The Lady Vols finished the month with a home win over Mississippi on Jan. 29, 60-59.
SEND OUT A SEARCH PARTYUT coach Pat Summitt needs to send out a search party to look for accurate shooters. The 2008-09 Lady Vols are shooting a program worst 40.9 percent from the field eclipsing the 2004-05 team which only connected on 41.6 percent of its shots for the season.
CRASH CART AT MISS STATETennessee was already without the temporary services of sophomore post Vicki Baugh (injured knee on Jan. 1) and the premature ending to point guard Cait McMahan's career (announced Jan. 10) when the team rolled into Mississippi State on Jan. 15. For the second year in a row at State, three UT players were injured. Last year, it was a broken nose for Angie Bjorklund, a hyper-extended knee for Candace Parker and a biceps strain for Alberta Auguste. This year, Kelley Cain came down hard on her surgically repaired right knee in the first half and did not return... Alex Fuller's eye was scratched and Shekinna Stricklen received a rib contusion.
STRICK FOUND A WAYRookie Shekinna Stricklen was having a challenging night from the field (1-10) against Mississippi State on Jan. 15 when she connected on a three-pointer with 1:45 to go to put the Lady Vols ahead for good, 59-56. Strick also cashed in on 10-10 free throws to finish with a team high 15 points on the night.
GRABBED 400TH SEC WINThe University of Tennessee Lady Vols' win over Mississippi State on Jan. 15 was the program's 400th alltime victory over an SEC foe. UT is now 405-62 vs. SEC schools. Lady Vol coach Pat Summitt has been on board for 402 wins and 61 losses. A 2-1 record versus South Carolina and a 1-0 mark against Georgia pre-dates Summitt's coaching tenure with the Lady Vols.
YOUNGSTERS NOT TOUGH ON "D"Tennessee's young team evolves each game but took a step backwards defensively against both Vanderbilt and Kentucky. The Commodores tossed in 46.2% of its field goal tries -- the second-best by an opponent vs. UT this season. One game earlier vs. Kentucky, the defense was spotty there as well with the Cats tossing in 45% from the field. Virginia is the only team to hit 50% vs. UT this season. To their credit, the Lady Vols have held nine of 15 opponents below 40% from the field.
LAST LOSS TO AN UNRANKED TEAM?It was in the 2005-06 season. Florida became the second unranked team in the 2005-06 season to knock off the Lady Vols, when they won 95-93 OT on Feb. 26, 2006. Exactly one month earlier, unranked Kentucky turned the trick with a 66-63 win over#1/3-ranked Tennessee on Jan. 26, 2006 at Rupp Arena. Previously, it had been four years since an unranked team upset the Lady Vols. So before Florida and Kentucky had their way with UT, when was the last time Tennessee lost to an unranked team? That would have been to LSU on Mar. 2, 2002 at the SEC Tournament in Nashville, Tenn. LSU had been in and out of the Top 25 polls in late January and February. Prior to that, UT's last loss to an unranked team was five years previous (to the day) losing to Auburn on Mar. 2, 1997 at the SEC Tournament.
THE COMEBACK KIDSIn all of UT coach Pat Summitt's career collegiate games, none of her Lady Vol teams had mounted the kind of comeback they fashioned against Rutgers on Jan. 3, 2009. Tennessee trailed 33-13 at the half. The 13 points were the fewest ever the Lady Vols have scored in the first half. The deficit also marked the first time in the 2008-09 season, UT has trailed at the half. Additionally, the 20-point halftime deficit was the largest in school history. The previous first-half low was 14 at Virginia on March 25, 1996. The previous largest halftime deficit was 19. Once on Feb. 4, 1996, at Ole Miss and on March 28, 1986, against Southern California in the Final Four in Lexington, Ky. Rutgers led by as many as 23-points before UT rallied for the win. Previously, the Lady Vols had to come back from a 22-point deficit to defeat Illinois in the 1997-98 season.
COAST-TO-COASTOver the Christmas holidays, the Lady Vols gave new meaning to coast-to-coast. UT traveled to Spokane, Washington on Dec. 27 for Angie Bjorklund's homecoming game and made Gonzaga their temporary homeaway- from-home. The hospitality of Angie Bjorklund's mom and dad, Kris and Jim, made the junket even more enjoyable in the 56 inches of snow that blanketed the city. After defeating the Zags, 77-58, on Dec. 30, the Tennessee traveling party headed to the East Coast on New Year's Eve. Following the Jan. 3 come-from-behind game against Rutgers, 55-51, the Lady Vols finally returned to Knoxville.
COMING OF AGE WINTennessee's overtime upset victory against #3/4-ranked Stanford, 79-69, was a great way to go into the Christmas break. The Lady Vols had a great OT defensive effort in the win over the Cardinal holding SU to just one point in the extra stanza. The team, minus West Coasters Angie Bjorklund and Vicki Baugh, reassembled in Knoxville on Dec. 26 for practice prior to traveling to Spokane. The first full team practice back after the break was on Dec. 27 following a full day of flying.
HEY! THE GANG WAS ALL HERE -- FINALLYIt's a little known fact that Lady Vol Coach Pat Summitt is a master juggler. After all, she's only had a full roster of 12 players available in just four games this season -- DePaul, George Washington, Texas and Gonzaga. Against DePaul on Nov. 30, Lady Vol Coach Pat Summitt enjoyed a full roster available to play for the first time in the 2008-09 season. Sophomore Angie Bjorklund, the only returning player with solid experience as a starter (30 starts) was available for the first time this season after missing fives games. Back from concussions were Alicia Manning and Kelley Cain who missed one and four games, respectively.
ALL THINGS ACADEMICSeven Lady Vols earned Dean's List honors for the Fall semester. Rookies Briana Bass, Kelley Cain, Glory Johnson, Alicia Manning and sophomores Vicki Baugh, Angie Bjorklund and Sydney Smallbone all earned over a 3.0 GPA.
GOT THE PATCHTennessee athletes who have achieved honor roll status in the classroom display a "Vol Scholar" patch on their uniform. The "VS" letters are wrapped around a replica of the torch carried by the UT Torchbearer. Currently, sophomores Angie Bjorklund, Cait McMahan and Sydney Smallbone display the academic patch on their uniforms. Following Fall semester grades, new additions to wear the patch will be Briana Bass, Kelley Cain, Glory Johnson, Alicia Manning and Vicki Baugh.