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Tennessee's Glory Johnson contributed 21 points and 10 rebounds toward a successful Senior Day on Sunday.
But what she didn't do also was a hot topic after a 75-59 SEC women's basketball victory over Florida. A season-high crowd of 18,563 at Thompson-Boling Arena witnessed a rare Johnson feat: zero fouls. Hard to do for the senior forward, who's known for her elbows as well as her athleticism. Even harder to ignore.
"That was the first thing I screamed when I went in the locker room — that I had zero fouls,'' she said. "I was so happy. Game like that, you've got to stay composed."
The victory wrapped up second place in the conference for No. 10 Tennessee (21-8, 12-4 SEC) and the No. 2 seed in this week's SEC tournament in Nashville. The Lady Vols will play the winner of Thursday's first-round game between No. 7 Vanderbilt and No. 10 Mississippi State at 3:30 p.m. Friday at Bridgestone Arena.
Johnson and Tennessee's other four seniors managed their emotions during a pregame ceremony honoring them. Then they were
serious enough about their work to allow for the lighter moments afterward.
"I was just excited,'' she said. "Senior Night and our fans have just been there with us through everything. I personally felt like I owed it to them. I owed it to my family. They're the reason why I'm here, so I let it all out on the floor."
As for the underclassmen, Meighan Simmons scored 12 points and point guard Ariel Massengale recorded five assists, setting a freshman record for assists in a season with 137 and counting.
Tennessee typically starts its seniors for the final home game. This season's group not only provided the perfect number but point guard Briana Bass and center Vicki Baugh actually rounded out a workable lineup. Despite Baugh having no points and four turnovers, associate head coach Holly Warlick said that the seniors might start the SEC tournament, too.
"I'm not going to say it's dead set,'' Warlick said. "But it was a great group to start the game."
The Lady Vols bolted to a 15-3 lead in just over six minutes, forcing Florida (18-11, 8-8) to call two timeouts. Thereafter, the Lady Vols committed enough turnovers (19) to keep things interesting. But the Gators didn't have enough scorers to take advantage. Reserve Lily Svete led with 12 points. The Gators overindulged in long-range jumpers, shooting 20.8 percent on 3-pointers (5 for 24).
"It seemed like Tennessee was issuing the challenge and we were trying to meet it,'' Florida coach Amanda Butler said, "as opposed to us being the ones who were being maybe more of the aggressors and that is not how we are best."
Florida didn't have much of an answer for Johnson, who shot 8 for 17 from the floor and spread her production fairly evenly across both halves. Butler won't miss Johnson and thinks the sentiment is shared around the conference.
"I think there will be some graduation gifts sent to her for sure," she said.
In the meantime, Warlick didn't miss a chance to tease Johnson about her lack of foul play.
"My father used to say, 'You didn't play hard enough unless you had one or two fouls' so I'm going to get onto Glory,'' Warlick said.
There was zero chance that she actually meant that.
Notebook: Junior guard Kamiko Williams didn't play Sunday. Warlick said the reason why was "a medical thing." Williams, who was on the bench, apparently took a blow to the head during practice.
Warlick indicated that Williams was expected to be available for the SEC tournament.