Lady Vols zone out Mississippi State, 75-48

STARKVILLE, Miss. — Outside Humphrey Coliseum the weather was sunny and clear Sunday afternoon. You could see forever.

Inside, Mississippi State couldn’t see anything against Tennessee’s zone defense. The Lady Vols came in and swept over the Lady Bulldogs like a thick layer of marine fog.

Tennessee never looked bigger or better in deploying its signature defensive wrinkle for this women’s basketball season. The strategy helped diffuse a threatening situation almost from the outset, propelling the Lady Vols to a 75-48 SEC victory before a crowd of 5,787, the third largest in State’s history.

A Saturday night video review of Mississippi State convinced UT coach Pat Summitt to use the zone alignment exclusively.

“They are very athletic,’’ Summitt said. “I thought we were able to negate some of that athleticism because of our size.”

Combine that with UT’s athleticism and efficiency and No. 4 Tennessee (14-1, 2-0 SEC) dominated. Glory Johnson and Angie Bjorklund each scored 16 points. Taber Spani added 12.

Johnson grabbed a career-high 15 rebounds.

UT committed just 10 turnovers, six in the first 33 minutes, against Mississippi State (11-5, 2-1), which had been gathering 23 per game on average.

“This was a good game for us,’’ Summitt said. “We knew coming in we had to be focused. This Mississippi State team, they’re very dangerous.”

Save for some sloppy moments down the stretch, the Lady Vols were all business. They never trailed. Their lead never dropped out of double figures after the 6:43 mark of the first half and grew as big as 32 points in the second half.

They were so intent that they still sounded wary in the post-game interview room. When asked about the game’s one-sided nature, Johnson said, “They are capable of making runs. We had to be ready for that.”

The tone was much different moments later when the Lady Bulldogs trudged in to answer for a season-low 28.1 percent field goal accuracy and all manner of insufficient effort.

State coach Sharon Fanning-Otis, a former UT graduate assistant, called several timeouts during the first half and channeled her inner Summitt in berating her team. Afterward, she was apologetic.

“Very, very, very disappointed,’’ she said. “For those of us from our area, we let you down.”

Alexis Rack scored a game-high 19 points, but the Lady Bulldogs senior guard took 22 shots and scored 12 of her points in the final 8:31.

The Lady Vols extended the front line of their zone to near halfcourt, which stopped State’s ballhandlers and steered them toward the sideline.

“I think it kind of scared them a little bit and they weren’t able to penetrate like they’re used to or kick out for threes,’’ Johnson said. “. . . I think it made it hard for them to do a lot of their stuff.”

Rack bemoaned State’s response.

“We were attacking it on the sideline,’’ she said. “We should’ve been taking it to the middle. It was hard to see over them the way we were attacking it.”

The 6-foot-3 Johnson played on the top of Tennessee’s defense. Yet she was able to get back toward the rim for 10 defensive rebounds.

On offense, she converted one of her rebounds in stunning fashion, spinning on the spot and scoring after contact.

Summitt said Johnson’s performance at both ends constituted her best game of the season.

“I think she needed this kind of game,’’ Summitt said, “not just for our team. I think she needed it for herself, to be able to go back and watch film.”

And clearly see how effective she was. The same could be said for her team.

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Comments » 22

qspr91iz writes:

This team is not invincible but I think they are improving every week. I think we will go deep into the tournament this year.

GO VOLS!!!!

nadio1987 writes:

i was AT this game, and this is the BEST i done seen them play so far.. this game was REALLY well for them and they did a GREAT job against a team who jus upset Vandy after being down by 15 at half

UTVOLSRROCKN writes:

Glory, Glory, Hallelujah!!!! She has the hops and is awesome around the rim and boards! Bench did not play as well, but overall, great game. Pat continues to "Coach them up!" Looking good!
LV...TCB....Keep on keeping on....GBO!!!!!!!!

ruggy writes:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

UTVOLSRROCKN writes:

in response to ruggy:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

CTOWNICON writes:

The lady vols played and excellent game today. The bench could have played better but all in all a good game. Glory was in rare form today! I like Taber on the block with that turnaround jumper, she is good with that. Williams penetration has an upside if she just gets it together, in time it will come to her. Good game and congratulations lady vols. There were upsets today, Auburn upset LSU and Kentucky upset Vandy! Thats SEC competition for ya!

CTOWNICON writes:

in response to ruggy:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Oh please, North Carolina was horrible! They are not worthy of the number 7 ranking. They are not good this year at all especially without Jessica Breland. Top 25 team they are, but not a top ten. Their offense was too painful to watch! But be proud, the success still does not compare to the lady vols! Still chasing the big dog!

ladivolfan writes:

Were there any rebounds in the game that Glory didn't pull down?

BigBadVol writes:

Both the men and women's team are better than NC. LOL

LCfastball writes:

Way to go girls !!!! Keep up the hard work !!!!!

whw48#307211 writes:

Women's college basketball is horrible. Uconn, Stanford, and UT are the only teams that have a shot at the NC, and I'd be shocked if anyone beats Uconn this year. The SEC is a joke, Lady Vols will cruise.

xvolx writes:

Bass, Brewer, Smallbone and Williams not helping this team. Manning needs to ask Bjorkland to help her with her shot. If only Williams and Brewer would get their heads out of the sand, this team could reach final four. Good game by starting five and Manning.

huntined#565710 writes:

Good game just take it one game at a time..I feel as if they are getting better on passing and shot selection.

eefor10c writes:

Give the Lady Vols credit. They have worked hard and made tremendous progress. North Carolina should not be in the top 25. Their schedule has to be at the bottom of the power ratings. They have wins over the College of Charleston, Coastal Carolina, Presbyterian, Charleston Southern, Radcliffe, Garner-Webb, Kennesaw State, ETSU and Winston-Salem State. It appears that Sylvia wants to rack up victories but not play any competition.

tonyvick#213307 writes:

Before the last couple of games I felt Spani had hit the freshmen wall because she was playing uninspired but I think she has pushed through and got her second wind. Williams is still very good and with more playing time will help us. Brewer a bit disappointing because if the other posts are playing well she feels she can take off a night a watch them play. Manning I can tell you have been practicing extra you are going to be a difference maker in games to come. Glory, Strick, Bjorkland, and Cain you guys are what lady vol basketball is all about. Bass if you keep working to do the things you do best you will help this team I feel you just really want to help this team. Lady Vols let's go undefeated in SEC play and make the final four.

ruggy writes:

it seems if you do not say anything but roses about Tenn you get this This comment was removed by the site staff.) what seem to be the problem? cant take the hard knocks ? only the good?

ruggy writes:

it also says this .....Share your thoughts

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johnlg00 writes:

in response to eefor10c:

Give the Lady Vols credit. They have worked hard and made tremendous progress. North Carolina should not be in the top 25. Their schedule has to be at the bottom of the power ratings. They have wins over the College of Charleston, Coastal Carolina, Presbyterian, Charleston Southern, Radcliffe, Garner-Webb, Kennesaw State, ETSU and Winston-Salem State. It appears that Sylvia wants to rack up victories but not play any competition.

In fairness to UNC, they lost a lot off their team after last year. Not every coach has the nerve to send a young team on the kind of death march Pat sent the "Baby Vols" on last year. I don't think UNC is any kind of championship threat this year, but they will improve enough to be dangerous in their league.

johnlg00 writes:

A few weeks ago, some poster on here--oh, wait, I think it was ME(;-D)!--said that Glory could be devastating at the point of a zone defense. With her long, long arms and someone to either side to inhibit ball-handlers going around her, she could stop anyone from passing to the high post or shooting from the top of the key. If there was anyone else who said that at the same time, do not hesitate to step up and take the credit with me(;-P)!

ps11824 writes:

Lady Vols did a nice job handling the bulldogs by keeping them from doing the things they've been winning with. BJ has become a real threat with the ball. I'm not sure what her FG% is, but she's deadeye and she's capable of creating a shot. I could go back and read numerous comments about how she cannot get her shot up quickly enough. Well, that is history. She has improved and become most reliable, wouldn't you agree?

Glory Johnson, wow! She is getting there. Her progression is reminding me of Catchings in the way she's always around the ball. She is so athletic, quick, she's exciting to watch. I don't know if she can dunk but when she turns it on she seems to find a zone that would not exclude throwing it down. We know she goes above the rim. Her feet are five feet off the floor. The kid may drive Pat crazy but she looks to me like she wants to play well and she throws herself into the action without hesitation.

I sure hope they can stay healthy. Brewer drives me nuts with her boneheaded decisions. I can understand how Pat would be in her face frequently. She's capable of scoring big time. She makes some good looking moves around the basket, but she seems to turn her brain off when she throws up a shot. Please get her some help, Dean.

I guess my greatest beef today is the freethrow woes. All in all I was very concerned about the Bulldogs. They usually give us a fit. They've taken us to the wire too many times in the past. This one was never in doubt.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to ps11824:

Lady Vols did a nice job handling the bulldogs by keeping them from doing the things they've been winning with. BJ has become a real threat with the ball. I'm not sure what her FG% is, but she's deadeye and she's capable of creating a shot. I could go back and read numerous comments about how she cannot get her shot up quickly enough. Well, that is history. She has improved and become most reliable, wouldn't you agree?

Glory Johnson, wow! She is getting there. Her progression is reminding me of Catchings in the way she's always around the ball. She is so athletic, quick, she's exciting to watch. I don't know if she can dunk but when she turns it on she seems to find a zone that would not exclude throwing it down. We know she goes above the rim. Her feet are five feet off the floor. The kid may drive Pat crazy but she looks to me like she wants to play well and she throws herself into the action without hesitation.

I sure hope they can stay healthy. Brewer drives me nuts with her boneheaded decisions. I can understand how Pat would be in her face frequently. She's capable of scoring big time. She makes some good looking moves around the basket, but she seems to turn her brain off when she throws up a shot. Please get her some help, Dean.

I guess my greatest beef today is the freethrow woes. All in all I was very concerned about the Bulldogs. They usually give us a fit. They've taken us to the wire too many times in the past. This one was never in doubt.

What I'm seeing out of Angie lately that I wasn't seeing before is that she is catching and shooting. She really CAN'T get her own shot against tight man-to-man defense. She is by far better off curling around screens, taking a good pass, and squaring up for a quick shot. In fact, she is one of the best I've ever seen at that. She was trying to do it too much by dribbling for position earlier but she just wasn't quick enough to go around anybody or get enough space for a good shot. The rest of the team has learned how to set her up now and that is why she is making everything.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to long_vol:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Agree about Lofton adding the drive to his superb long-range game, but even he couldn't just drive to the basket at will off the dribble. He would catch the ball, pump-fake, and then drive when the opponent got off balance. Angie can do the same thing, but it has to START with the pump-fake, not by pounding the dribble.

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