OXFORD, Miss. - Tennessee's tradeoff showed on the scoreboard and in the minutes-played column of the stat sheet.
Leading by 26 points at halftime of an SEC women's basketball game against Ole Miss on Thursday night, the Lady Vols exchanged a possible full-scale rout for playing minutes for the reserves.
The result was a 68-44 victory before a crowd of 3,120 at Tad Smith Coliseum and at least 20 playing minutes for every Lady Vol. It wasn't exactly the trade of the century, but UT was content with the deal.
"It's more about us right now,'' UT coach Pat Summitt said. "… I thought our starters got us off to a great start. It (going to the reserves) was something I wanted to do going into this game if we could open it up.''
Point guard Shannon Bobbitt led No. 2 Tennessee (19-1, 6-0 SEC) with 14 points. Candace Parker scored 13 in 20 minutes. The Lady Vols had a 48-40 rebounding advantage, winning the battle of the defensive boards, 32-19.
Ole Miss dropped to 8-11, 2-4.
Tennessee reserve Alex Fuller made the most of her 21 minutes, scoring 11 points and grabbing six rebounds. Fellow reserve Vicki Baugh grabbed a team-high nine rebounds.
Several of Baugh's rebounds played a part in her team-high four turnovers. She often was victimized after exposing the basketball to Ole Miss' ball-hawking guards.
"I've been told several times not to bring the ball down; I've never put that into action,'' she said. "They're a scrappy team. It's a learning experience."
From Summitt's point of view, Baugh can't get enough of those experiences.
"I think while Vicky didn't get as many opportunities to score,'' Summitt said, "the more reps she can have, the more comfortable she's going to be and more confident.''
Tennessee played some of its best hoops right from the start. Showing no signs of a hangover from Monday night's 67-64 victory at Duke, the Lady Vols bolted to a 17-4 lead in the first seven minutes.
The fast start afforded UT's reserves an early chance to play. Senior Alberta Auguste was the first backup off the bench. Tennessee barely missed a beat with one substitute. Auguste contributed a block to the defensive effort.
When forwards Fuller and Baugh joined Auguste, however, there was a noticeable dropoff, particularly on offense against Ole Miss' scrappy zone alignment. The Lady Vols went nearly four minutes without a point and more than seven minutes between baskets.
During these droughts, the starters were hustled back into the game to restore scoring order. Their presence enabled UT to eventually revisit the same personnel strategy, this time with better results.
Freshman Sydney Smallbone, who didn't play Monday against Duke, peeled off her warm-up and made the most of her opportunity, hitting a trey, two free throws and recording three assists.
Fuller swished her first trey since hitting two against Vanderbilt on Jan. 20.
Finally, Baugh produced the most resourceful highlight of the half. Flat on her back in the lane, the 6-foot-4 freshman flipped a pass to Nicky Anosike for a layup.
There was never any dropoff in UT's defense in the first 20 minutes and it showed in their 39-13 lead. The Rebels' points and 20.7 field-goal percentage were season lows for a UT opponent.
"They're big; they're athletic,'' Ole Miss coach Renee Ladner said. "And if you get past the first line of defense, they have another line."
In the second half, the Lady Vols got in some work on their matchup zone defensive alignment. The strategy didn't do much to stop Ole Miss forward Shawn Goff, who had game highs for points (20) and rebounds (12).
After building their lead to as many as 29 points, the Lady Vols put the reserve plan back into action shortly thereafter for the game's duration. Anosike took a seat on the bench with a wrap on her left knee. It was a precaution after she suffered a bruise.
The Lady Vols played the last four-plus minutes without a true point guard on the floor. The lone starter was a freshman, Angie Bjorklund.
Tennessee returns home to play Kentucky at 3 p.m. Sunday. With advance ticket sales approaching 18,000, the doors at Thompson-Boling will open a half-hour earlier at 1:30.