STARKVILLE, Miss. — Instead of the stat sheet, the postgame injury report took priority for Pat Summitt Thursday night.
The Tennessee women’s basketball coach didn’t budge from her seat when Jenny Moshak, the Lady Vols assistant athletic director for sports medicine, entered the interview room following UT’s 87-69 SEC victory over Mississippi State.
“I’m not moving,’’ Summitt said.
The news was encouraging regarding All-American Candace Parker, who had to be helped from the floor and then to the locker room after suffering a left knee injury. Parker was examined by Dr. Bob Collins, Mississippi State’s orthopedic specialist. All of the major ligaments checked out fine, Moshak said.
“The knee is solid,’’ Moshak said. “We’ll see how it responds just because it went through that trauma.”
Parker has had two surgeries on the same knee. She had a torn anterior cruciate ligament repaired during her senior season in high school.
UT’s postgame release on Parker said it appeared “as though she hyper-extended it.”
The rest of Moshak’s report was mixed. Freshman Angie Bjorklund, who missed most of the second half with a bloody nose, might have suffered a broken nose. She will have an X-ray today.
Moments before Parker went down, the Lady Vols lost senior guard Alberta Auguste, who aggravated the left biceps injury she had suffered in practice last Friday. She was replaced by the injured Bjorklund.
Summitt didn’t see Parker’s injury, which occurred with 3:09 left. The junior was going for a loose ball under the Lady Vols’ basket.
“I was getting ready to go to the bench and I didn’t even see it,’’ Summitt said. I was turning around to sub. I’m like, ‘I should’ve substituted earlier.’ ’’
The fact that Parker was playing that late reflected the nature of the game for No. 2 Tennessee (21-1, 8-0 SEC). The Lady Vols needed more than 30 minutes to subdue Mississippi State (14-9, 2-6), which led by seven points at halftime before a crowd of 2,628 at Humphrey Coliseum.
Lady Bulldog Alexis Rack scored a career-high 32 points.
When Summitt turned to the bench in the first half, she received little response from the reserves. Auguste came through in the second half, with 10 of her 12 points.
Auguste was one of five Lady Vols scoring in double figures. Alexis Hornbuckle and and Shannon Bobbitt led with 16 points apiece.
“You have to look at it that we’re a blessed team,’’ Hornbuckle said. “It could’ve been a lot worse.”
It started out a lot better. A 3-pointer by Bjorklund gave UT a 24-11 lead with 12:52 left in the first half. At the point, a stunning role reversal took place.
The Lady Bulldogs reeled off 21 consecutive points, driving through UT’s defense and swarming the offensive boards.
“I thought our defense was water,’’ Summitt said. “They went right through our defense.”
By halftime, State led 40-33, matching North Carolina for the most points scored against the Lady Vols in the first half this season. They hadn’t trailed at halftime since last season’s SEC tournament semifinals against LSU, a span of 28 games.
Summitt directed her most stinging postgame criticism toward the reserves.
“They were miserable with the exception of Alberta,’’ Summitt said. “I’m not happy with them. They can’t do that to this team.”
Bobbitt, who had three treys in the second half, arrived beforehand courtesy of the UT plane, reaching Starkville about three hours before tipoff. The 5-foot-2 senior was unable to travel with the team on Wednesday because of a test in a Psychology class Thursday.
Bobbitt was accompanied by Lady Vols athletic director Joan Cronan and Kerry Howland, an assistant athletic director for academics. Injured teammate Kelley Cain also was on board.
Cronan said that originally Bobbitt was going to miss the game. She missed a game at Louisiana Tech last season because of a test and a heavy week of academic work.
The decision to transport Bobbitt was made two days ago, Cronan said. To those who might consider the gesture and the expense extravagant, Cronan said, “I will travel to four to five games a year and take donors. I decided to come to Starkville. Coming on the UT plane is not near as expensive as chartering a plane.”
The plane, which was secured for an hourly rate, returned immediately after the 1 hour, 15 minutes to Starkville, Cronan said. The traveling party went home on the team charter.