KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - When Kentucky upset Tennessee a year
ago, Lady Vols coach Pat Summitt revoked her team's locker room
privileges for nine months.
On Thursday night, the Lady Vols showed their demanding coach
just how far they've come since that lowly day.
Fourth-ranked Tennessee celebrated another Southeastern
Conference championship in that same locker room after an 81-65 win
over No. 16 Kentucky.
"We went crazy in the locker room," said Tennessee sophomore
Shekinna Stricklen, who was one of five Lady Vols in double
The victory gave Tennessee its 15th SEC regular season title and
first since 2007, when they won the school's seventh national
"I think they understand what it takes now," Summitt said. "I
think this game meant a lot to our team. They wanted to win
something, something very important."
Tennessee (26-2, 13-1) used several runs to pull away in the
first half and stayed firmly in control in the second half thanks
to consistent play inside and near-perfect free throw shooting (25
Kelley Cain, who was coming off a school record 12-block
performance against LSU on Monday, led the Lady Vols with 14 points
and seven blocks, even though she sat out the final 16:46 of the
first half after picking up her second foul.
She scored 11 of her points, pulled down all six of her
rebounds, and had all but one of her blocks in the second half.
Victoria Dunlap scored 22 points for Kentucky (23-5, 11-4). But
the fourth-leading scorer in the SEC shot just 6 of 19 from the
Trailing from the opening minutes, the Wildcats managed to get
within 23-16 on a layup by Amani Franklin, but the Lady Vols
followed that with a 14-0 run that included consecutive 3-pointers
from Angie Bjorklund.
"I watched a lot of film on them, and I think tonight they
showed you another gear that they had," Kentucky coach Matthew
Alyssia Brewer added 10 points, as Tennessee outscored Kentucky
36-26 in the paint.
"We're excited we finally won something," Bjorklund said.
"We're all pretty excited after this game. That was our focus. If
we take this team out, then we win SEC. That's our first goal, and
we accomplished it."
The Wildcats did not have the size to match up against a
Tennessee team with all five starters at 6-foot or taller.
"Sometimes it's tough to handle big people when you don't have
somebody on your bench that has the same kind of body that they
have, but that's not the mentality you have to take," Dunlap said.
"If they're bigger or smaller, you just have to play hard the
whole time and not worry about it."
Tennessee now has 29 blocks in its past two games.
"I think if teams watch film, they have to take that into
account," Bjorklund said. "This team, they're tall, they get a
lot of blocks inside, and that helps us keep people out of the
But the Lady Vols got balanced scoring from their backcourt as
well, with Bjorklund and Stricklen each adding 12 points.
"Obviously some nights guard play is going to be more open than
post game," Summitt said. "I think having balance is important,
but at the same time, you have to take what good looks you have."