“I was scared for the other team,’’ Manning said. “I’m serious. I wouldn’t want to drive on them. They were huge in there.”
In this case, Manning was fearful for Union University. Cain and Baugh made their first preseason appearances Sunday afternoon and cast long shadows over the Lady Bulldogs’ game effort. They combined for 12 points, 12 rebounds and seven blocks in an 86-53 women’s basketball exhibition victory at Thompson-Boling Arena.
The 6-foot-6 Cain was more productive with 10 rebounds and five blocks. She helped neutralize Union’s Zeinab Chan, a 6-4 All-American center who shot 2-for-10 from the floor, committed six turnovers and scored just four points.
The 6-4 Baugh, who has undergone three knee surgeries during her UT career, supplied the drama, making her first appearance since Feb. 2, 2009.
“They will both be difference-makers for our team,’’ UT coach Pat Summitt said.
A bigger Tennessee was better than during its 110-66 win over Carson-Newman College on Tuesday night. Take away Union’s 47.4 percent accuracy on 3-pointers (9-for-19) and the Lady Bulldogs shot just 33 percent (11-for-33) on their other shots.
The Lady Vols, meanwhile, shot 49.3 percent from the floor (33-for-67) despite making just seven of 25 3-point attempts (28 percent).
The Lady Vols dominated the rebounding, 49-23, and were resourceful, parlaying 19 Lady Bulldogs turnovers into 21 points.
UT’s Glory Johnson had her second strong preseason showing, recording team highs for points (20) and rebounds (11).
Manning had 13 points, eight rebounds and four assists. Taber Spani and Shekinna Stricklen each scored 10.
“We kind of flowed a lot better than we did last game,’’ Johnson said.
Tennessee, which opens the regular season Friday night at Louisville, was better for having played Union, which has won the last two NAIA national championships and four of the last six.
Summitt’s resume was improved by the result. She has won 1,037 career games and led her teams to eight national championships. But before Sunday, she was 0-3 against the Jackson, Tenn., school, having lost three times to the Bulldogs during her rookie season of 1974-75.
“They’re good and they’re so well-coached,’’ Summitt said. “I caught myself at times just watching them play.”
Union led by as many as 13 points in an exhibition against Vanderbilt last season and led with 11 minutes left before losing 69-48. Guard Kayla Hudson hit four 3-pointers in that game. The All-America guard was one trey better against Tennessee in scoring a team-high 17 points.
“A lot of the sets we ran gave me some separation and I knew I had to get my shot off a little quicker because they were bigger, stronger, faster,’’ Hudson said.
Hudson’s sniper-like range gave UT fits, too.
“We weren’t really expecting them to be able to shoot seven feet behind the 3-point line,’’ Manning said.
The Lady Vols probably weren’t expecting the right-handed Hudson to fling one in with her left hand either, which she did to beat the shot clock in the first half. Union coach Mark Campbell was surprised and gave Hudson his undivided attention as she explained herself afterward.
“I really did get a good look at the rim,’’ she said. “However, it was with the wrong hand. I was trying to get a little bit of separation and (Manning) wasn’t going anywhere, so I just did the old spin move and kind of threw it up there.”
A Hudson trey pulled Union within 21-18 6:54 before halftime. UT then finished the half with an 18-3 scoring run. During that stretch, Johnson, who has one career trey, buried one from behind the men’s line at the top of the key.
“I liked everything but the three-ball,’’ Summitt said of Johnson’s performance. “I wasn’t impressed with that. It was as deep as it was lucky.”
Message sent and received.
“All I need is one,’’ said Johnson, laughing. “More than likely it’ll be the last one, unless I’m wide open and Pat tells me to shoot.”
Dan Fleser covers Tennessee Lady Vols basketball. He may be reached at 865-342-6288. Follow him at http://twitter.com/fleserKNS and http://blogs.knoxnews.com/fleser/.