FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Tennessee's Shekinna Stricklen enjoyed another happy homecoming Sunday.
The senior forward entertained a large turnout from her hometown of Morrilton, Ark., with a game-high 19 points against Arkansas.
Stricklen's cheering section had a pretty good vantage point, sitting right behind Tennessee's bench. A few feet in front of them, UT coaches were enjoying the prevention more than the points.
Stricklen and the Lady Vols collaborated on their best defensive effort of the season in a 69-38 SEC women's basketball victory. Before a crowd of 5,258 at Bud Walton Arena, No. 6 Tennessee (12-3, 3-0) limited the Razorbacks to 10 field goals and 18.2 percent field goal shooting (10 for 55), a season low by a UT opponent.
Leading scorer C'eira Ricketts, a first-team All-SEC preseason honoree, shot 1 for 11 from the floor and scored only two points.
Lyndsay Harris led Arkansas (11-4, 0-3) with 14 points but the senior guard needed 14 shots for her scoring.
"This is the most we've ever talked on defense,'' Stricklen said. "I thought that helped a lot today. We had each other's back and were rotating right. We were all on the same page."
Stricklen, who shot 8 for 12 from the floor and grabbed eight rebounds, shared center stage afterward with teammate Glory Johnson. Tennessee's other starting forward recorded her fifth consecutive double-double with 15 points and 14 rebounds. In the process, she grabbed her 1,000th career rebound, becoming the fourth Lady Vol to reach 1,000 for both points and rebounds.
Johnson's sense of history didn't match her penchant for rebounding. Teammate Taber Spani, who missed her fifth straight game to rest her left knee, reminded Johnson of her achievement, which she reached with her fourth rebound.
"I wasn't just aiming for four,'' said Johnson, who joined Chamique Holdsclaw, Tamika Catchings and Sheila Frost in the 1,000/1,000 club. "I wanted to get as many rebounds as I can."
The Lady Vols applied a similar mind-set to their defense. They could've settled for a good start, during which they held Arkansas scoreless for nearly 6½ minutes at the outset. They weren't satisfied, however. The Razorbacks waited nearly eight minutes for their second basket.
Arkansas coach Tom Collen wasn't surprised by UT's strategy, but he was impressed with the execution. Of the Razorbacks' 55 shots, he estimated that 10 were uncontested.
"They guarded us better and they guarded us with better players,'' Collen said. "They just smothered us."
Johnson did the work of two defenders on an early defensive possession. She started by heading off a drive by the 5-foot-9 Ricketts before recovering to block a short jumper in the lane by 6-3 Sarah Watkins.
"In order for us to keep moving, Glory has to maintain that (effort)'' UT associate head coach Holly Warlick said. "That's asking a lot from her but that's what she does."
Johnson's rebounding led Tennessee's 47-24 advantage. Stricklen's shooting was the high point of the team's 50 percent accuracy from the field (27 for 54).
Stricklen, who scored 26 points here last season, snapped out of a 15-for-47 shooting slump in front of the home folks.
"I know there's a lot of pressure to come home and play but, I don't know, she seems to thrive on playing in this gym,'' Warlick said. "If we could take this gym back home for Shekinna, we would."
The only thing the Lady Vols didn't take care of was the basketball. They committed 20 turnovers. Several were either unforced or ghastly in nature, which doesn't bode well for Thursday's road game against ball-hawking Kentucky.
Said Warlick: "That's one thing in our game we've got to clean up, we've just got to clean up.''