Lady Vols scramble to beat Alabama, 68-49

Lady Vols' forward Kelley Cain is under pressure from Alabama's Tierney Jenkins, center, and Carmen McCoy.

Photo by Saul Young, Knoxville News Sentinel

Lady Vols' forward Kelley Cain is under pressure from Alabama's Tierney Jenkins, center, and Carmen McCoy.

NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Tennessee’s mystery tour rolled into the SEC tournament Thursday night.

The women’s basketball team that has taken unpredictability to new heights this season recorded a few more confounding entries in a first-round game against Alabama.

Guard Angie Bjorklund, UT’s most dangerous sharpshooter and an All-SEC second-team honoree, didn’t make a shot and failed to score for the first time this season.

Meanwhile, forward Glory Johnson, whose field goal percentage has plummeted to 40.2 percent, missed only one shot and had her biggest scoring game in a month.

Go figure.

At least there was no mystery to the outcome. The fifth-seeded Lady Vols (21-9) took care of business, albeit in workmanlike fashion, overcoming a one-point halftime deficit for a 68-49 victory at Alltel Arena.

The victory advanced UT to a second-round game against fourth-seed Florida (23-6) at 7:30 tonight.

“I thought our defense inspired our offense,’’ Lady Vols coach Pat Summitt said.

Holding No. 12 seed Alabama (13-17) to 18 points and 21.9 percent field goal shooting (7 for 32) after the break enabled UT to overcome a 31-30 deficit and finally break free.

Guard Shekinna Stricklen led Tennessee with 16 points. Center Kelley Cain added 12 points and Johnson scored 11, making four of five field goal attempts.

Overall, UT shot 50 percent from the floor (26 for 52).

Alyssia Brewer’s eight rebounds led Tennessee’s 44-29 dominance of the boards.

Cain, who was battling nausea, recorded seven blocks, which tied a Tennessee freshman single-game record.

In mounting a 38-18 charge across the second half, Tennessee was able to share the playing minutes in a suitable fashion for an opening game. No Lady Vol played more than 28 minutes and all 10 played at least 10 minutes.

“I was mindful we have to play another game,’’ Summitt said. “But first things first, we had to win this one.”

Stricklen, who was playing before family and friends from Morrilton, Ark., did the heavy lifting in terms of minutes played, scoring and assists — matching her season high with seven.

“Like I’ve been telling people, I’ve come back home (but) it’s not about me, if I’m going to show up and have a good game, it’s about this team and us playing together and winning,’’ Stricklen said. “The second half was something totally different, the intensity was higher and our defense picked up and everyone was fired up and we just got it going in the second half.”

Well, everyone but Bjorklund. Along with going 0-for-7 from the floor, foul trouble limited her to eight first-half minutes and 17 overall.

“It was just one of those games,’’ she said. “I had some good looks. I think I was just rushing it a little bit.”

As for the foul trouble, “I need to learn to play smarter when I’m in foul trouble but at the same time stay aggressive,” she said.

A trio of UT freshmen helped cover for Bjorklund’s struggles. Johnson had her best scoring game since getting 20 against Georgia on Feb. 5. She scored twice on rebound baskets, part of Tennessee’s 18-10 edge in second-chance points.

“It’s been bothering me because I wasn’t helping my team any,’’ Johnson said of her shooting struggles.

Brewer, who hadn’t scored in the last two games, added eight points.

Guard Briana Bass played 22 minutes, scoring five points, recording three assists and not committing a turnover.

With today’s game in mind, Tennessee’s players began their whirlpool treatments minutes after Thursday’s game ended. Cain, who’s playing with a surgically repaired right knee, didn’t seem overly worried about her recovery.

“We have hard practices after games,’’ she said, “so I think I can handle it.”

If anything, the Lady Vols seemed more concerned about Florida, which beat Tennessee 66-57 on Feb. 8 in Gainesville, Fla.

In a postgame TV interview, Stricklen offered a confident preview: “Same team but different story.”

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Comments » 36

yeavols#228407 writes:

Wait until the Men get a hold of Alabama...they won't know what hit them.

CTOWNICON writes:

Great win lady vols. We need you Friday Angie. Please, please lady vols defend that 3 point line. We fall behind by the other team making so many quick 3's and have to battle back. Don't make the game harder to win than it really is. Put someone quick on Brooks that will stay in front of her. Defense was not great but it was enough for Bama but we need to play better defense against Florida. Second string lady vols did a good job tonight. Come to play Friday.

volball7222 writes:

I see a boatload of common themes in the 97 season and this year. Pat has had to work overtime to get the team to play togeather. They are young and have had to learn college basketball. The 97 team lost 10 games, they beat an undefeated Conn team on their way to the NC. Geno has been choking in big games since he has been coaching. This year, the NC will be a tall order, but I do look for them to make a great showing. I would love to see them go through the SEC tournament to get some big mo going. They will be fun to watch the rest of this year and years to come. Keep it going!!!!!

LadyVolFanForever writes:

Survive and advance.....good second half Lady Vols. The bench really came to play tonight and that helped save everyones legs. Can't say enough about Kinnia. Glory showed what she is capable of when she is patient. Keep shooting Angie, they will fall. Rest Kelley and Amber, we need your great post presence.
Florida will be tough but you could have beaten them at their house and this is the SEC tourney, survive and advance.
Go Lady Vols !

pdhuff#552644 writes:

35 in a row.

Gezeesus!

Summitt, you are the bomb!

huntined#565710 writes:

Got to play some D against their guards...Had them beat in their house and let it get away..GO VOLS!!

OrangeTint writes:

No holds barred girls tomorrow night. Fight the right to stay alive another day. Great second half to show the world a glimmer of the class of 2012. Everybody shined tonight, but Angie B. The reason is she's a target right now, and she has to work like everything to get a open shot. I look for her to bring it tomorrow night. Remember, everybody brings their A game when they play The Lady Vols!!! Good Luck, and bring it hard.....Vol Nation will be watching......

Timed_vol (Inactive) writes:

One down;
UF is revenge game no. 2 (Vandy was NO. 1). pat knows how to work this angle.

She'll probably be like this: 'ladies, UF will come out to try to knock us out in the first half; we need to survive that and start wearing them down inside with kelley. We'll switch up D's to get them off-balance'.

I think she will try to keep UT's emotions down a bit, so we don't blow it all early.

We have the advantage of having a game under our belt in the gym, which helps as well.

I say we beat UF; Saturday night, our tiredness will show up, so I don't know on that one yet...

Chartervol writes:

Alabama lost to Tennessee for the 35th straight time? Music to my ears. Rammer jammer that, you cheating bammers!

Still don't care for the Carolina blue, though.

xvolx writes:

weak effort against the worse team in sec.

bmaples writes:

Getting there, getting there. Let's beat the Gatorettes, then whomever on Saturday. Finals would be amazing.

I'd love to get two more here and two in the NCAA. That would be a good conclusion to a tough season. Any more would be gravy (and I LIKE gravy).

Bruce in Louisville

WeLoveTennesseeVols writes:

in response to yeavols#228407:

Wait until the Men get a hold of Alabama...they won't know what hit them.

we hope so, glad you are excited about it, you see victory on the horizon, good for you!@

mad_poly_uct writes:

in response to Timed_vol:

One down;
UF is revenge game no. 2 (Vandy was NO. 1). pat knows how to work this angle.

She'll probably be like this: 'ladies, UF will come out to try to knock us out in the first half; we need to survive that and start wearing them down inside with kelley. We'll switch up D's to get them off-balance'.

I think she will try to keep UT's emotions down a bit, so we don't blow it all early.

We have the advantage of having a game under our belt in the gym, which helps as well.

I say we beat UF; Saturday night, our tiredness will show up, so I don't know on that one yet...

Hiya mparker. Hope you're well. Responding to your post for a few reasons. First, I agree with your first comment about PS working the revenge factor. She's without a doubt one of the best working that angle to motivate, and I agree, I think Fla is going down. Secondly, what was your feeling by halftime? Down 1 and feeling good about what actually transpired in 2nd half, or very anxious about the possibility of a very early exit? Also, where do you guys stand with point guard recruits next year? That to me seems to be the huge factor in this team's lack of consistency this year, but then again, I've only seen 3 or 4 games at most.McMahon( do I have that right?), was the point guard who had to "retire" because of her knee, correct? With one senior leaving, how many scholarships are open? Just that one? Good luck against Fla, and then Auburn, I would presume....

tenn32rebel writes:

in response to mad_poly_uct:

Hiya mparker. Hope you're well. Responding to your post for a few reasons. First, I agree with your first comment about PS working the revenge factor. She's without a doubt one of the best working that angle to motivate, and I agree, I think Fla is going down. Secondly, what was your feeling by halftime? Down 1 and feeling good about what actually transpired in 2nd half, or very anxious about the possibility of a very early exit? Also, where do you guys stand with point guard recruits next year? That to me seems to be the huge factor in this team's lack of consistency this year, but then again, I've only seen 3 or 4 games at most.McMahon( do I have that right?), was the point guard who had to "retire" because of her knee, correct? With one senior leaving, how many scholarships are open? Just that one? Good luck against Fla, and then Auburn, I would presume....

Mad, I'll do my best to answer your questions especially since they were stated so well.

AL made a shot with less than 1 second in the first half to give them a one point lead. AL had played their best ball of the last month and only had a 1 point lead. We had PLENTY of room for improvement and we have been a strong second half team this year. Most of our losses came after digging ourselves into a huge hole in the first half and falling short in the second half. The VA and FL games were the exceptions to that trend. We had FL by 7-8 points with around 6 minutes left in the game and blew it. That games really stuck in Pat's throat!

We have the possibility of having a great redemption/revenge SEC tournament. Next game is FL, then Auburn, then, probably LSU or maybe Vandy. All of those teams beat us this year. We split the series with Vandy this year. These games will be a real marker for these Baby Lady Vols.

Next year we have two quality combo guards who have split the 1 & 2 slots with their high school teams. One is Taber Spani (#13 overall) from MO and the other is Kamiko Williams (#70 something) from TN. Both Taber & Kamiko are lefties, something unusual for the Lady Vols.

Taber will probably play 1-3 slots for UT because of her size and build. Taber is 6'2" (I think!) and Kamiko is 5'11" with more experience at the PG slot. Last season, Taber averaged 30 ppg, so she fills the 2 slot better but has also played a lot of PG for her team. (Taber's dad played 9 seasons in the NFL for the Kansas City Chiefs at linebacker and retired as their leading tackler! She is NOT AFRAID to mix it up!)

The following year, Lauren Avant has verbally committed from a Memphis school. She is #4 overall and #1 PG in her class.

(see 2nd post - rebel)

tenn32rebel writes:

in response to mad_poly_uct:

Hiya mparker. Hope you're well. Responding to your post for a few reasons. First, I agree with your first comment about PS working the revenge factor. She's without a doubt one of the best working that angle to motivate, and I agree, I think Fla is going down. Secondly, what was your feeling by halftime? Down 1 and feeling good about what actually transpired in 2nd half, or very anxious about the possibility of a very early exit? Also, where do you guys stand with point guard recruits next year? That to me seems to be the huge factor in this team's lack of consistency this year, but then again, I've only seen 3 or 4 games at most.McMahon( do I have that right?), was the point guard who had to "retire" because of her knee, correct? With one senior leaving, how many scholarships are open? Just that one? Good luck against Fla, and then Auburn, I would presume....

Part 2 of post - rebel

Yes, Cait's knees just would not let her continue. She redshirted last year and was set to be the starting PG and leader of this young team. She is a fiery individual. Just think of a short Shea Ralph--that's Cait!!! She will probably get a medical scholarship which terminates any future bb playing time.

Vicki Baugh also tore her ACL for a second time a month ago. The first ACL happened in the NC game against Stanford last year. She was scheduled to be the power forward/post on this young team. Maybe we will have her for next year!

Kelley Cain had a severe concussion early in the year and then had three separate knee injuries to her right knee. She was scheduled to be the starting center (#5 slot) and is finally getting well enough to be a real factor for the LVs for the last three weeks.

Out of three starters from the early games, Pat finally has one of them in her current lineup. Cait is gone for good, Vicki is rehabbing her knee for a second time and Kelley is finally raising "Cain" in the SEC. Sorry, couldn't help myself with that pun!

We'll probably have two scholarships (Cait & Alex Fuller-lone senior). Pat hasn't stated what she will do. We probably won't know until after she does it!!

Thanks! We'll take all the good luck we can get!

"rebel"

GO BABY LADY VOLS---OUR FUTURE CHAMPIONS!!!

Timed_vol (Inactive) writes:

in response to mad_poly_uct:

Hiya mparker. Hope you're well. Responding to your post for a few reasons. First, I agree with your first comment about PS working the revenge factor. She's without a doubt one of the best working that angle to motivate, and I agree, I think Fla is going down. Secondly, what was your feeling by halftime? Down 1 and feeling good about what actually transpired in 2nd half, or very anxious about the possibility of a very early exit? Also, where do you guys stand with point guard recruits next year? That to me seems to be the huge factor in this team's lack of consistency this year, but then again, I've only seen 3 or 4 games at most.McMahon( do I have that right?), was the point guard who had to "retire" because of her knee, correct? With one senior leaving, how many scholarships are open? Just that one? Good luck against Fla, and then Auburn, I would presume....

poly, tenn rebel answered most...I'm like you, I don't get to see many games (and none in psreson).

I did see the halftime score, but was not too concerned. Tihs is not a 'blow-em out' team, it just isn't good enough for that.

as for next year...I would love to see us sign a JUCO point guard, maybe 2. I am thinking we are getting some girls in who may be solid combo guards, but who still aren't true pg's.

I do look for Bass to improve dramatically over the summer, as I do all the freshmen. This class hasn't been as injury-prone as last years, adn they certainly have gotten a LOT more game experience.

As you know, a summer of strength, condtitioning, and pickup games can do wonders for young players.

xvolx writes:

in response to Jovi:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

move your nose so you can recognize were you're at.

reachkim00 writes:

Great win ladies, progress is being made. Wipe out the Gators and advance on. GO LADY VOLS!!

BIGEJ writes:

in response to xvolx:

weak effort against the worse team in sec.

That is a very good first half assessment and a very poor assessment of the second half; it was a game of two halves much like the entire year; they need to play 40 minutes of basketball not 39 or less...GO VOLS

ps11824 writes:

Look for Alex and Bj to step up big tonight. Since I did not get to watch the game last evening versus Bama, I'm speaking from the stat line and the sparce news coverage, but I see a very meager stat line for 2 of out team's leaders. We will need them to produce and lead if we are to advance. Did Bama do that well at defending Bj?

huntined#565710 writes:

Will have to play better to beat Fla. Can't play a sorry first half and beat them.. But we will take the first win and see if we can move on..

ps11824 writes:

We must be very agressive while being very smart against the gators tonight as last contest sent them to the charity stripe 29 times to our 8. That is a startling stat to me. We obviously played a very timid offensive game to have been on the costly end of the whistles. The turnovers tell the tale however, as they scored 23 points off our 19 TOs.

Hopefully we can defend Brooks much more efficiently tonight and NOT allow her to go off for 29 points and 7 rebounds. Despite poor defense and lots of whistles, the Lady Vols had a chance to control this game when they were up by 7 with 7:29 to play. Instead they allowed the gators to go on a 12-2 run. Gators scored on a 3-point plays off an inbounds pass and stellar free throw shooting as we kept fouling Brooks with 2 minutes to play (can we not guard her?) She stepped up to the stripe and burned us hitting 5 of 6 FTs in 38 seconds. Good grief!

Pat will fix that broken wheel tonight or blow her big orange top. You better believe she will have something designed to make Brooks' life less than a cake-walk.

Florida is a pretty good long-ball shooting team. Our zone defense will need an additional gimmick or two to throw Coach Butler off her feed. If only Hornbuckle and Augustie-like defenders were ready to guard Brooks?

ps11824 writes:

I hope our ladies will take it upon themselves to learn screen-setting techniques while they are camping out in Outer Mongullie this summer. Glory will discover she can dunk the ball, or simply drop it in instead of punching it toward the bucket from chest-high level. I hope Cain will get some great conditioning along with Brewer and Gray. I hope Stricklen will realize she can be the best player in the league as Bj becomes a consistent scoring machine. These are my wishes for summer camp.

LadyVolFanForever writes:

in response to ps11824:

I hope our ladies will take it upon themselves to learn screen-setting techniques while they are camping out in Outer Mongullie this summer. Glory will discover she can dunk the ball, or simply drop it in instead of punching it toward the bucket from chest-high level. I hope Cain will get some great conditioning along with Brewer and Gray. I hope Stricklen will realize she can be the best player in the league as Bj becomes a consistent scoring machine. These are my wishes for summer camp.

Those are great hopes for our Lady Vols summer, 98. Let's just be real greedy and add 1 more, I hope Vicki Baugh can come back next year better than ever ! Heck I will even pass up Christmas gifts if all these can come true !

ps11824 writes:

LVFF, I'll give my next born child and various other goodies in return for a very healthy and whole 09/10 basketball season. Not greedy at all, just respect, love and support for my Lady Vols. I know the feelings are mutual for true LV fans. : )

reachkim00 writes:

in response to Mike_From_Connecticut:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

It's going to be hilerious when Uwho? gets knocked out of the Final Four.. if they make it that far.
GO LADY VOLS!!!!!!!!!

CTOWNICON writes:

in response to Mike_From_Connecticut:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Lets see when are you going to quit being jealous of Pat and her girls because you are not one and try to act like a man, the key word is try.

mad_poly_uct writes:

in response to tenn32rebel:

Mad, I'll do my best to answer your questions especially since they were stated so well.

AL made a shot with less than 1 second in the first half to give them a one point lead. AL had played their best ball of the last month and only had a 1 point lead. We had PLENTY of room for improvement and we have been a strong second half team this year. Most of our losses came after digging ourselves into a huge hole in the first half and falling short in the second half. The VA and FL games were the exceptions to that trend. We had FL by 7-8 points with around 6 minutes left in the game and blew it. That games really stuck in Pat's throat!

We have the possibility of having a great redemption/revenge SEC tournament. Next game is FL, then Auburn, then, probably LSU or maybe Vandy. All of those teams beat us this year. We split the series with Vandy this year. These games will be a real marker for these Baby Lady Vols.

Next year we have two quality combo guards who have split the 1 & 2 slots with their high school teams. One is Taber Spani (#13 overall) from MO and the other is Kamiko Williams (#70 something) from TN. Both Taber & Kamiko are lefties, something unusual for the Lady Vols.

Taber will probably play 1-3 slots for UT because of her size and build. Taber is 6'2" (I think!) and Kamiko is 5'11" with more experience at the PG slot. Last season, Taber averaged 30 ppg, so she fills the 2 slot better but has also played a lot of PG for her team. (Taber's dad played 9 seasons in the NFL for the Kansas City Chiefs at linebacker and retired as their leading tackler! She is NOT AFRAID to mix it up!)

The following year, Lauren Avant has verbally committed from a Memphis school. She is #4 overall and #1 PG in her class.

(see 2nd post - rebel)

Thanks for the reply back rebel. You too mparker. Had a feeling Ala was playing over their heads, just wanted some confirmation. Sounds like a decent class coming in. Have to admit, I knew all about Spani going there, but convieniently forgot once she committed! I remember her dad with K.C. Believe her final 3 schools were Tenn, Kansas St., and Uconn. I wasn't too surprised when she informed Uconn she would not be attending. I actually thought she might join her sister at K. St. Think she'll be a real asset to your program. Have fun tonight, and thanks again...

LadyVolFanForever writes:

Great first half Lady Vols. Go Angie, go !
Just 20 nore minutes of the same thing. Go Lady Vols, beat Fla !

Timed_vol (Inactive) writes:

okay, first half is done; now, the next line:

"ladies, we KNOW they will make a run; expect stepped-up pressure, lots of trapping out top. they will try to get us into 'scramble' mode. we MUST value the basketball. we are going to cross them up: I want to be even MORE aggressive to the basket. Let's get them in foul trouble, so we can finsish them off there. Le'ts go ladies!!!!"

Timed_vol (Inactive) writes:

kind of afraid of this...the first 8 minutes of the 2nd half have been BAD.

Timed_vol (Inactive) writes:

turnovers....just freaking awful. 21 so far.

LadyVolFanForever writes:

Relax, at least we won !

Timed_vol (Inactive) writes:

ok, we won, but we still see the problems: lack of discipline in handling the ball, and silly fouls when you have a lead.

oh well, onto auburn.

I have to think about this one; I don't really know what Pat can do, other than maybe try a 'pound it inside' approach.

Here is where the "leg's" come in. we had the advantage over UF of playing a game in the gym. we won't have that over auburn. we will be tired, so we have to do something to counter that.

LadyVolFanForever writes:

I agree mparker but a couple of weeks ago I didn't think we would get this far ! They showed some heart tonight but still let that inexperience creep in.

Hang in there Lady Vols. Never give up or give in !

CTOWNICON writes:

in response to Timed_vol:

ok, we won, but we still see the problems: lack of discipline in handling the ball, and silly fouls when you have a lead.

oh well, onto auburn.

I have to think about this one; I don't really know what Pat can do, other than maybe try a 'pound it inside' approach.

Here is where the "leg's" come in. we had the advantage over UF of playing a game in the gym. we won't have that over auburn. we will be tired, so we have to do something to counter that.

During that time Bass was on the bench but when Pat put her back in all the turnovers stopped. We have to face it, she is our only true ball handler and I don't think she had a single turnover.

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