Judging by her start, Ariel Massengale intended to finish off Georgia single-handedly Thursday night.
With her shooting hand still warm from a 6-for-6 performance against Chattanooga on Tuesday, Tennessee's freshman point guard scored 11 points in the first nine minutes against the Lady Bulldogs, entertaining a crowd of 13,721 at Thompson-Boling Arena with two nifty assists to boot.
"I forget she's a freshman,'' UT senior Vicki Baugh said.
Fortunately for Massengale, her teammates didn't forget her altogether. They eventually joined forces and the result was an impressive 80-51 SEC women's basketball victory.
Glory Johnson scored 22 points and grabbed 13 rebounds for her fourth consecutive double-double
for No. 6 Tennessee (11-3, 2-0 SEC). Shekinna Stricklen scored 12 points and Meighan Simmons had 10.
Vicki Baugh added 10 rebounds to the Lady Vols' haul, which was 52-32 in their favor.
And Massengale didn't exactly cede the floor to her mates. She matched her career highs with 19 points and nine assists, while committing just one turnover.
"I can tell you I didn't see this coming,'' UT coach Pat Summitt said. "Georgia is a very good basketball team, but we just came out and executed for 40 minutes."
And No. 16 Georgia (12-3, 1-1) didn't. Judging by Lady Bulldogs coach Andy Landers' harsh assessment of his team's play, Massengale, or any other Lady Vol for that matter, could have gone it alone against his team.
"Lack of fight, lack of motivation, nothing pleased me," Landers said. "Nothing pleased me. We didn't do one thing that I thought we did well. Nothing."
Well, they were pretty good at rebuking themselves.
"We didn't fight,'' said Georgia's Meredith Mitchell, who scored a team-high 14 points, "and that's where the game turned for us for the worse."
Said Lady Bulldogs forward Jasmine Hassell: "We pretty much gave up and we shouldn't have. And that is not Georgia basketball."
As far apart as these two teams were in the end, UT's lead was only 44-36 with 15:55 left. At that point, the Lady Vols weren't too happy, either.
"The coaches were reminding us that the score was too close; the score was too close," Johnson said. "We're a team that, we need to take off, and from halftime, we're looking at (the fact that) we're playing with this team the energy should be a lot higher than what we're showing. That's when we just had to take over."
When UT finally made its break, defense played a pivotal part.
Against the Lady Vols' zone alignment, Georgia missed five consecutive shots over a three-minute stretch. Tennessee, on other hand, scored three straight baskets. When Johnson scored at the rim, courtesy of a Massengale assist, UT's lead was 54-38 with 12:27 left.
"We tried the zone in the first half and it wasn't very effective,'' UT associate head coach Holly Warlick said. "They were screening us on the baseline and getting open looks. We made some adjustments at halftime, and we were a different team. We had more energy. We were guarding the screen. I thought it was effective."
The Lady Vols' rebounding enabled them to widen their advantage. Their dominance resulted in 20 second-chance points and factored into their 20 points at the foul line.
"We gave up those two things tonight,'' Landers said. "We didn't even fight."