Judging by its final exhibition, Tennessee wants a running start to its women's basketball season.
A bigger, more experienced opponent tried to impose a speed limit on the Lady Vols on Sunday afternoon but succeeded for only about 10 playing minutes.
Love & Basketball barely resembled a speed bump as UT pulled away to an 85-50 victory before a crowd of 11,149 at Thompson-Boling Arena.
UT coach Pat Summitt has been specific with her marching orders and the Lady Vols are doing their double-time best to comply.
"They're really trying to stay in the up-tempo mode,'' Summitt said. "That's what we want to do."
UT took the lead for good at 12-11 with 11:08 left in the first half and bolted to 29-point advantage by the break (42-13) against a team of former collegiate players who reside in Southern California.
Despite some performance lapses, the lead grew to as many as 40 points on two second-half occasions in Tennessee's final tune-up before Saturday's regular-season opener against San Francisco.
Shekinna Stricklen finished with a team-high 16 points on 7-for-11 shooting. She was one of five Lady Vols scoring in double figures. Kelley Cain and Sydney Smallbone each scored 12. Alyssia Brewer scored 11 and Amber Gray added 10.
Brewer grabbed 11 rebounds and Cain 10 as UT built a sizable 54-36 advantage.
The 6-foot-3 Brewer came off the bench to record double-doubles for points and rebounds in both exhibitions.
"What Lyssi Brewer has brought has been solid,'' Summitt said.
Charlee Underwood led the opposition with 16 points.
Sunday's outcome was noteworthy when compared to Love & Basketball's 83-74 loss at Vanderbilt on Friday night. The Commodores, the preseason SEC favorite, led by just three points with 1:57 left.
"I think it's a very interesting selection," Love & Basketball coach Colleen Matsuhara said of the media and coaches both picking Vanderbilt to win the conference. "They are very talented. I think the Lady Vols probably go a little deeper in terms of athleticism and quickness.''
The Lady Vols used those attributes and their size to advance their fast-paced agenda against Matsuhara's team. With redshirt sophomore Cait McMahan resting her surgically repaired right knee, Stricklen and Briana Bass took turns at point guard, combining for 11 of Tennessee's 24 assists and just two of the 16 turnovers.
"I'm really getting comfortable with it,'' said Stricklen, who is new to the position. "I have great teammates. When I'm pushing the ball, they're running the floor. They're open. They're making it easy."
Although Stricklen had five assists, she was a receiver on the game's prettiest play - a behind-the-back pass from Gray for a transition layup during the first-half surge.
"I kind of looked at her and she was looking at me,'' Stricklen said. "I was like 'oh, she's about to do something.' So I was kind of looking for it."
Gray said her decision had a calculated dimension.
"People think it's a fancy pass but at that time it was the easiest pass to make,'' she said. "If you have someone running side by side the (defender) can't stop. It was something I practiced all the time in high school."
Bass' vapor trail was conspicuous in the second half as she pushing the basketball up the floor. The 5-2 freshman recorded five of her six assists in the final 20 minutes. Most of them came on transition plays.
"I believe she's faster than (Shannon) Bobbitt,'' said Summitt, referring to UT's economy-sized point guard of the past two seasons. "She doesn't shoot the ball as well, but she's trying to prove me wrong on that, too.
Bass hit three of Tennessee's eight 3-pointers. Smallbone hit a pair, showing a quicker release than last season.
On the flipside, Brewer committed five of her six turnovers during the second half, contributing to UT's intermittent lulls. Fellow freshman Glory Johnson, meanwhile, was topping off a 2-for-11 shooting effort. At times, Tennessee was hurt by deploying an all-freshman lineup.
Senior forward Alex Fuller was missed. She took a blow to her upper body early in the second half and had to be helped off the court. She finished the game as a spectator on the bench.