Lady Vols in SEC title game; beat South Carolina, 74-58

From left, Tennessee's Glory Johnson, Meighan Simmons, and Vicki Baugh guards South Carolina's Ashley Bruner, La'Keisha Sutton and Charenee Stephens during the semifinal round of the SEC Women's Basketball Tournament at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, TN on Saturday, March 3, 2012. Tennessee defeated South Carolina 74-58. The Lady Vols advance to the championship game against LSU. 

(SAUL YOUNG/NEWS SENTINEL)

Photo by Saul Young, copyright © 2012

From left, Tennessee's Glory Johnson, Meighan Simmons, and Vicki Baugh guards South Carolina's Ashley Bruner, La'Keisha Sutton and Charenee Stephens during the semifinal round of the SEC Women's Basketball Tournament at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, TN on Saturday, March 3, 2012. Tennessee defeated South Carolina 74-58. The Lady Vols advance to the championship game against LSU. (SAUL YOUNG/NEWS SENTINEL)

NASHVILLE — Tennessee's Alicia Manning called teammate Glory Johnson "a beast" and she meant it — as a compliment.

"When she's under control and still fast, she's just so explosive," Manning said. "I don't know many guys who can guard her."

Johnson mixed a sufficient amount of composure with her boundless athleticism Saturday night against South Carolina. The result was a monster game before a crowd of 11,029 at Bridgestone Arena.

UT's senior forward scored 23 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in leading the Lady Vols to a 74-58 victory in the semifinals of the SEC women's basketball tournament.

No. 2 seed Tennessee (23-8) faces No. 4 seed LSU today (TV: ESPN2, 6 p.m.) in the championship game. The Lady Tigers (22-9) advanced by beating top-seed Kentucky in the other semifinal, 72-61.

Fellow senior Shekinna Stricklen added 16 points in support of Johnson. In keeping with her tournament custom, she scored all of her points in the second half.

Another senior, Vicki Baugh, backed Johnson's board play by grabbing 10 rebounds herself.

Markeshia Grant and Ieasia Walker scored 13 points apiece to lead No. 6 seed South Carolina (23-9). Grant's performance was a far cry from the career-high 27 she scored in the Gamecocks' 64-60 upset of UT in Knoxville on Feb. 2.

Johnson was limited to 26 minutes in the first meeting after the Gamecocks coaxed her into early trouble. In the rematch, teammate Cierra Burdick sensed frustration on Johnson's part. But she turned that potential problem into South Carolina's plight, making 7 of 14 field-goal attempts and scoring nine more points at the free-throw line.

"She wasn't finishing (shots) and she wanted to finish," Burdick said. "When Glory gets mad, I feel bad for the other team."

One of Johnson's baskets was the byproduct of a strategic decision that paid huge dividends. South Carolina was lurking within 49-40 with 11:40 left when Tennessee shed its zone defense alignment for some old-fashioned man-to-man.

"We were a little uncomfortable that they were getting comfortable attacking our zone," assistant coach Dean Lockwood. "We didn't want them to get in the flow of anything."

The defensive switch flipped a switch with the Lady Vols. Blocked shots by Stricklen and Baugh led to two transition baskets. The second was Johnson's soaring layup. UT's lead ballooned to double figures and the game's tempo swung decidedly in its favor.

In the end, the Lady Vols scored 46 second-half points and shot 57.1 percent from the floor (16 for 28) in the final 20 minutes. What began as a tense, possession-by-possession struggle ended with an entertaining UT finish.

"Crowds love it when you're getting offense off your defense," Manning said. "It's good, solid basketball."

The Lady Vols will need more of the same in today's championship game. LSU was impressive in beating Kentucky, leading virtually the entire game and leading by as many as 18 points.

"They're playing with as much confidence as anyone out there," Lockwood said. "You can see it."

UT associate head coach Holly Warlick considers LSU head coach Nikki Caldwell, the former Tennessee assistant/player, to be her good friend. That might change for a day.

"She's not going to be a great friend of mine (today)," Warlick said. "Maybe after the game."

Dan Fleser may be reached at 865-342-6288. Follow him at http://twitter.com/FleserKNS and http://blogs.knoxnews.com/fleser.



2012 Women's Basketball Tournament - Tennessee Semifinal Press Conference



South Carolina vs Tennessee Women's Basketball Highlights


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Comments » 35

wigmeister writes:

Keep up the intensity! Beat LSU!

philgreen5#410561 writes:

What a weekend for UT sports, a basketball sweep of the Commodores, the Lady VOLS in the finals and a baseball win over that other UT !!

RLL59 writes:

For the first time that I can remember the Lady Vols went to a man to man defense without overguarding the player with the ball. The results were there were few if any easy layups, no disruption of the Lady Vol defense, and our players didn't look slow or out of position. Thank you, coaching staff.

Good game, Lady Vol players and coaches. Now, beat LSU.

wazzya69vol writes:

Good job Lady Vols. Take it to LSU. Great day to be a Tennessee Vol!!

jt45 writes:

Way to give UT the day. Its a great day to be a Tn
Vols fan. Now go tame those Tigerettes.

I predicted a 15 point win, Baugh played well today getting all those rebounds and what a block she put on that girl. Johnson was a scoring machine in the second half, one of her better games. Im impressed with Manning lately
she has become very savvy on offense since she started getting more playing time. Strickland was right on time and a game changer in the second half, its like she has a switch that the coaches flip down the stretch.
GBO !

Razor784 writes:

What a day for UT hoops, it's been a long time coming. One more to go, let's bring it home tomorrow night.

Volinflan writes:

MY player of the game was Vicki Baugh. She kept the lady Vols in from the start. Manning also stepped up really big. The Seniors are starting to look like "Seniors". The "main lineup" is gong to be Glory, Strick, Manning, Vicki and Massengale but the next starting team will be the seniors including Bass.

Two back to back great games. Revenge on Vandy, revenge on Arkansas, revenge on South Carolina - now lets beat LSU again and start taking out revenge on Stanford, Baylor, and Notre Dame. The way they played the last two games shows they are very capable of doing it. A lot of coaches are sweating right now when they are reviewing the Lady Vols tapes.

butch31 writes:

What a game...LOL! I am seeing a totally different team emerging at the right time. Glory Johnson was a BEAST for us today. I'm glad Shekinna woke up in time for the 2nd half. Vicki Baugh finally came to life, I saw the player that recruited here 5 yrs ago. Cierra needs more minutes, Briana has to step up. We rebounded, we played great defense, but we need to share the ball better *(Only 8 assists)* and we only forced 7 turnovers. These things need to change by tomorrow so we can get that SEC Championship and a #2 seed. Good job ladies, lets win it all tomorrow, ITS A NEW SEASON! Let get this done.

ModelMaker writes:

Great Game. I thought it was the best game they have played all year. The coaches handled the players better than I have seen them all year. I think Vicky Baugh and Ariel Massengale played great as did the whole team. It was really a breath of fresh air. Vicky and Ariel make everyone else look better. I thought South Carolina had a very good team. I was impressed with their shooting. If they continue to shot like that they are going to pull a few surprises in the playoffs.

1volk-nowi-tall writes:

Good game. The best thing about this team is that there is still a great deal of room for improvement. Still can get better at defending the 3-point shot, still can have fewer turnovers (especially out front that lead to easy lay-ups) and still a chance to improve against the dribble drive and prevent it without fouling... I know they want to win and I hope they can get to the final four... Go Lady Vols.

JimmyJoe writes:

Simmons screwed up three times in a thirty second period right before the half.... She didn't get in at all in the second half.... Somebody is still coaching on that Lady Vols bench!

johnlg00 writes:

in response to RLL59:

For the first time that I can remember the Lady Vols went to a man to man defense without overguarding the player with the ball. The results were there were few if any easy layups, no disruption of the Lady Vol defense, and our players didn't look slow or out of position. Thank you, coaching staff.

Good game, Lady Vol players and coaches. Now, beat LSU.

The biggest difference in the man-to-man the LVs played today and the one they played so unsuccessfully earlier was indeed the fact that they weren't over-guarding. The earlier version was predicated on ball-denial initially and crowding up on their player when she got the ball. With bigger players like Kelly and Amber backing them up, the opponents still had to try get off shots against big post defenders.

Without that backup, that defense merely underscored their lack of foot-speed in the numerous blow-bys they gave up. By just keeping between the ball-handlers and the basket, they not only were better able to deny the drive, they could close out on 3-point shooters under control. They made the reasoned decision that they could live with a few made 3-pointers if the LVs could keep the other team out of the paint, rebound strongly, and keep their better players out of foul trouble. They still have the zone to rely on against bigger teams.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to ModelMaker:

Great Game. I thought it was the best game they have played all year. The coaches handled the players better than I have seen them all year. I think Vicky Baugh and Ariel Massengale played great as did the whole team. It was really a breath of fresh air. Vicky and Ariel make everyone else look better. I thought South Carolina had a very good team. I was impressed with their shooting. If they continue to shot like that they are going to pull a few surprises in the playoffs.

Agree with all. I too was impressed with SC's fight even when they had no chance to win late. Very satisfying tournament so far for the LVs. One more good overall effort tomorrow and the title is theirs. Seems like they are getting better here at the end. If they can keep it up for a few more weeks, they will be right in the thick of the national championship talk again. Maybe these girls have decided after all that they will NOT be the first LV senior class never to make a Final Four.

gerryblack writes:

in response to wigmeister:

Keep up the intensity! Beat LSU!

Just a great game by the coaches and players. They played Summitt ball today. WHOW

VOLliven2it writes:

Lady Vols right back where they have been a number of times. Now go win it girls for Coach Pat and Rocky Top Nation. Great win tonight!

bigfan865 writes:

in response to philgreen5#410561:

What a weekend for UT sports, a basketball sweep of the Commodores, the Lady VOLS in the finals and a baseball win over that other UT !!

Don't forget the Lady Vol softball team who had two shut out victories today!

philgreen5#410561 writes:

in response to bigfan865:

Don't forget the Lady Vol softball team who had two shut out victories today!

That's right! Kudos to the diamond Lady VOLS.

SummittsCourt writes:

Great game Lady Vols! Beat LSU and it's tourney time!

kazoo writes:

Has the light bulb come on for this team? I'm afraid to say 'yes.' First, the defense has been noticeably better--the defensive work rate better, which had to happen if this team expects to make noise in the tournament. The team is getting off to better starts, with the senior lineup, and that is carrying through the rest of the game. Second, Baugh is contributing more than she has all year--and that is HUGE as this team has been weak inside all year. She is playing big minutes and making her presence felt on the boards. Manning seems more comfortable too. Finally, only 10 turnovers today--which is a major deal for a team with a tendency to squander possessions. All anyone can say is, keep it up.

thevoice writes:

Sure hope Glory stays mad for a while!

hcjournals#206623 writes:

SEC Champions on Sunday. Yeah I said it! Go Lady Vols! Go Big or Go Home!

RockVegas writes:

Let do it ladies....GBO.

RockyTop1_old writes:

We will need al of our Lady Vols for this one! I still feel Simmons is key for us to make a deep tournament run. We need her fire to get us moving, just look at the Kentucky game in Knoxville!! All our Lady Vols are need to close out this thing the VOL way!

Nothing helps more than an SEC Championship!! Even Pat has said it is harder to with SEC tourney than the NCAA championhsip!! Go Lady Vols!!

RockyTop1_old writes:

BTW, I'll be looking for tickets to the final today. I enjoyed getting to go yesterday - bought tickets there from Tennessee fans with extras. So if you know any available let me know (need 4 tickets) and I will meet you there to cheer on our Lady Vols!! GO BIG ORANGE - VFL!!

crossvoll writes:

That was another great game, the seniors were all fantastic! One thing that hit me at the very end, was, the minute Glory Johnson came out of the game, we gave up 6 points and 3 rebounds just like that, although we did make one basket. Some games we wouldn't have that cushion and I hate to see the girls get sloppy at the end. When Glory's not in, somebody better get those rebounds! Very fun game to watch, though. Keep going, Lady Vols, SEC champs tonight!

ljlongtimevolfan writes:

Keep the ball hogging Prima Donna Simmons on the bench and we win the SEC Tournament today with teamwork.

johnlg00 writes:

Great game by Baugh yesterday. If she can keep playing at this level, the LVs might indeed be back on a track that can take them to a Final Four. Nothing more can be said about how much Glory means to this team; she is the ONE player who can be counted on to bring it EVERY game. Now if Shekinna can be counted on for more than 10 or 15 minutes of All-America-caliber play a game, they will be REALLY tough down the stretch. Love Meighan coming off the bench; when she is on, she gives them a big lift; when she isn't, she can go back to the bench with little harm done.

jt45 writes:

in response to ljlongtimevolfan:

Keep the ball hogging Prima Donna Simmons on the bench and we win the SEC Tournament today with teamwork.

Are you Stalking Simmons ? Perhaps your just another troll poser, either way all five of your past post to date are pathetic attempts at bashing simmons. I was considering just ignoring your stupid comment till I noticed that's all you ever posted here during your 1 months worth of trash talk.

Simmons makes mistakes at times as do all of them, yet she gets trashed for her mistakes while others go unnoticed. The fact is she comes through on offense when its needed most of the time and has been the difference on more than one game this year.
Maybe you should try being a real LVs fan instead of just writing trash about one player.
Your Pathetic !

jt45 writes:

in response to johnlg00:

Great game by Baugh yesterday. If she can keep playing at this level, the LVs might indeed be back on a track that can take them to a Final Four. Nothing more can be said about how much Glory means to this team; she is the ONE player who can be counted on to bring it EVERY game. Now if Shekinna can be counted on for more than 10 or 15 minutes of All-America-caliber play a game, they will be REALLY tough down the stretch. Love Meighan coming off the bench; when she is on, she gives them a big lift; when she isn't, she can go back to the bench with little harm done.

Good post, If Baugh and Johnson both start clicking at the same time and Massengale can keep the offense running smooth, the LVs might make another run at the title.

Noogaorange writes:

in response to butch31:

What a game...LOL! I am seeing a totally different team emerging at the right time. Glory Johnson was a BEAST for us today. I'm glad Shekinna woke up in time for the 2nd half. Vicki Baugh finally came to life, I saw the player that recruited here 5 yrs ago. Cierra needs more minutes, Briana has to step up. We rebounded, we played great defense, but we need to share the ball better *(Only 8 assists)* and we only forced 7 turnovers. These things need to change by tomorrow so we can get that SEC Championship and a #2 seed. Good job ladies, lets win it all tomorrow, ITS A NEW SEASON! Let get this done.

Don't forget to tell Pat. She'll be waiting to hear from you on what they need to do. Good grief we beat a pretty good SC team and you're talking about number of "assists". Don't always try and find something you can note as not up to par in your Basketball mind...this is not a good trait. Go back and look at other posts you have something good to say then end with what they really need to do to win? Give them and us a break, it was a good game for us and we're in the Championship game. Just get it done girls.....whatever it takes, one chance to win it all!!!! GBO

Noogaorange writes:

in response to butch31:

What a game...LOL! I am seeing a totally different team emerging at the right time. Glory Johnson was a BEAST for us today. I'm glad Shekinna woke up in time for the 2nd half. Vicki Baugh finally came to life, I saw the player that recruited here 5 yrs ago. Cierra needs more minutes, Briana has to step up. We rebounded, we played great defense, but we need to share the ball better *(Only 8 assists)* and we only forced 7 turnovers. These things need to change by tomorrow so we can get that SEC Championship and a #2 seed. Good job ladies, lets win it all tomorrow, ITS A NEW SEASON! Let get this done.

Don't forget to tell Pat. She'll be waiting to hear from you on what they need to do. Good grief we beat a pretty good SC team and you're talking about number of "assists". Don't always try and find something you can note as not up to par in your Basketball mind...this is not a good trait. Go back and look at other posts you have something good to say then end with what they really need to do to win? Give them and us a break, it was a good game for us and we're in the Championship game. Just get it done girls.....whatever it takes, one chance to wlin it all!!!! GBO - Go Lady Vols- VFL -----and after!

butch31 writes:

in response to Noogaorange:

Don't forget to tell Pat. She'll be waiting to hear from you on what they need to do. Good grief we beat a pretty good SC team and you're talking about number of "assists". Don't always try and find something you can note as not up to par in your Basketball mind...this is not a good trait. Go back and look at other posts you have something good to say then end with what they really need to do to win? Give them and us a break, it was a good game for us and we're in the Championship game. Just get it done girls.....whatever it takes, one chance to win it all!!!! GBO

LOL...U have NO IDEA who your replying too. LOL

movol53 writes:

Please enlighten us ole great one "butch31".

RashaadSalabeb writes:

The line up looks better. The substitutions look better. The effort looks better. The scoreboard looks better. The coaching looks better. I feel better!

Go Vols! Stay hot and keep up this effort one game at a time. I'm expecting big things!

RLL59 writes:

Congratulations to the Lady Vols for winning the SEC tournament. But the concern is that the man to man defense went back to overguarding, resulting in guard penetration, disruped defenses, and easy layups. It's not going to be 'one and done' as one poster suggests because the teams playing against a 2 seed in the first round are not as good as we've seen in the SEC tournament. But unless someone tells Shekinna that it's alright to miss a shot early on, and that she is the offensive 'star' and needs to continue looking for her shot, the Lady Vols may not get beyond the second round. And they certainly won't if they insist on permitting opponents to blow by them for easy shots.

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