Lady Vols beat Florida move onto Women's SEC semi-final game

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Tennessee 92, Florida 61

Notes…

-On Feb. 28 in the regular-season meeting between Tennessee and Florida, the Gators sank 11-of-29 three-point field goals. In today’s matchup, they finished 8-of-18 from beyond the arc.

-Tennessee scored 90+ points for the fourth time this season (92 vs. Texas, 102 at DePaul, 98 vs. Arkansas).

-Today’s attendance of 9,938 is a new record for a single-session at the SEC Women’s Basketball Tournament

The win today…

-Improves the Lady Vols to 28-2 on the season, 14-1 in games contested outside of Thompson-Boling Arena in Knoxville.

-Gives Tennessee a 37-2 lead in the all-time series with Florida

-Gives Tennessee a 56-16 record in the SEC Tournament since 1980.

-Gives Tennessee an all-time record of 395-59 against teams in the SEC.

-Gives Pat Summitt a career record of 975-182 in her 34th season at UT

Shannon Bobbitt…

-Crossed the 600-point plateau for her career (617)

-Scored in double figures for the 13th time this season and the 29th time of her career.

-Scored 20+ points in a game for the third time this year & the fourth time in her career.

-Her 22 points today were her most ever against an SEC foe.

-Made a career-high-tying seven free throws on a career-high eight attempts.

-Moved into a tie with current Lady Vol assistant coach/former UT player Nikki Caldwell for sixth place in the UT record books for career three-pointers (128).

Candace Parker…

-Crossed the 900-rebound plateau for her career (906), becoming just the eighth Lady Vol of all-time to do so.

-Now owns the top-three single-season free throws attempted marks in school history (232 in 2006-07, 219 in 2007-08, 218 in 2005-06). Tamika Catchings and Chamique Holdsclaw attempted 217 each in the 1997-98 season.

-Scored in double figures for the 36th time in a row and the 97th time of her career.

-Scored 20+ points for the 16th time this season and the 43rd time of her career.

-Her 26 points today tie an SEC Tournament career-high, (also vs. Georgia, 3-4-06)

-Moved past Kara Lawson (1,950) and into fourth place in the UT career scoring list (1,956).

-Her four blocks today give her 254 for her career, moving her into eighth place in the SEC record books for career stuffs.

Alexis Hornbuckle…

-Scored in double figures for the 14th time this season and the 63rd time of her career.

-Has now scored in double figures in her last three SEC Tournament games.

-Her three steals today give her 347 for her career, moving her into sixth place in the SEC record books for career thefts.

-Started for the 111th time of her career, moving her into a tie with Dena Head for eighth place in the UT record books for career starts.

Story Courtesy: UT Lady Vols Sports Information

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Tennessee Postgame Quotes--

THE MODERATOR: Coach, if you could, an opening comment and then we'll take questions for the players, then come back to questions for you.

COACH SUMMIT: Well, I thought our basketball team came in with great energy. Certainly being able to score off of our defense early and just by pushing tempo. I thought Shannon really got the ball and got us some good open court looks. Candace ran the floor hard and was consistent in running hard, and obviously that gave us a chance to score in transition.

I thought our guard play between Shannon and Lex was really solid, and that's exactly what we need, and I think it's what we have to have to be the kind of basketball team that we need to be, not only in this game but as we move forward.

So overall a good effort, good energy. Good off the bench. Vicky Ball brings a lot of energy and certainly did a nice job coming in, and Nicky Anosike is always doing a lot of the things that go unnoticed but her defense and her toughness and just how hard she works at both ends of the floor.

Q. Alexis, talk about your shooting game today. This looked like a real upgrade for you. What was going on today?

ALEXIS HORNBUCKLE: I just tried to come into the game and relax and let the game come to me and not force anything. My teammates were doing a great job of just running the floor and pushing the ball inside, so I just took any open opportunity I could.

Q. Question for Candace. Can you talk about you and Shannon hooking up in transition and how much better that makes you guys?

CANDACE PARKER: I think we've really emphasized in practice the last couple days just up tempo and pushing the tempo every chance we get on makes or misses, so I think Shannon did a great job of just looking up the floor, and I just told her I was in a run, and she made some really nice passes.

Q. Alexis, in the second half there was a play where you were leading a break up the left side and you kind of looked back to the middle, Candace was there and somebody else. You misfired and sure enough, somebody picks it up and hits a three. When things are going good for you guys, even a bad play can turn into something nice?

ALEXIS HORNBUCKLE: That definitely does happen. I definitely saw Vicky's ball first, and then I saw Candace, and a girl hit my arm so I misfired. Luckily Angie was there to pick it up and knock down the shot.

Q. Since you made your decision that this is your last year, is there more of a sense of urgency with tournament time coming?

CANDACE PARKER: Honestly I think there's always a sense of urgency. This is what everybody plays for in the postseason, and I know our team has stepped it up. You know, this is the time of year that you play for.

Q. They seemed to have so much trouble underneath early. One of their post people was 1 for 8. How much do you kind of discourage them from thinking that they can score those kind of easy baskets, and is that an early victory that kind of sets the tone?

CANDACE PARKER: Honestly, Nicky and Vicky and Alex really try to take pride in if the guards get beat or if our men are in the paint or anything like that, own the paint and making people earn their baskets. I know myself, I felt like I disciplined my team early on in the season because when people penetrated or something like that in there, I wasn't there to block a shot. I think just having a post presence and having the type of bodies that we worked hard on, that discourages easy shots.

Q. Candace, could you talk about just the way this team played overall offensively today? It looked like you got a lot of nice things going here at the start of this tournament?

CANDACE PARKER: I remember before the game, Nicky an Vicki pulled us all together and said we didn't start off the tournament last year well at all, and that it set the tone for our loss to LSU in the semifinals last year. We all knew that we had to come to play. Florida is a great team; they were playing well. I think we just decided to play with a lot of energy, and we played a 40 minute game. Didn't we?

COACH SUMMIT: We did (laughter). I'm glad to say that. It makes me happy.

CANDACE PARKER: It's on the record. Write that down, please (laughter).

THE MODERATOR: Thank you, players. Questions for Coach?

Q. Maybe you can expand on the fact that you finally got that 40 minute effort you've been looking for.

COACH SUMMIT: Well, I think it's sometimes and I've talked about this, but coming off of a national championship, it can be very challenging in terms of getting the players to understand how they need to play every possession and have a sense of urgency, and as coaches you always feel that.

But I think with this team, they had so many returning players that I think in some regard they wanted if they could, they would probably have said let's fast forward this season and get to the postseason. You want them to always enjoy the process, and I think they have. But I think at times they've just played in spurts and just tried to be able to close out games. And that's what really, I think, hurt us in our last loss against LSU, and take nothing away from LSU, they just dominated us in the second half.

I think we're very focused. I think they came in focused, and if today is any indication and we can build on that, then I feel like our basketball team is going to be ready to play.

Q. Florida seemed to hang around in the first half and then you kind of blew it open the second half. What was the difference there?

COACH SUMMIT: Well, I think a couple things. We changed our defensive scheme, and I think the change was good for us. But at the same time I thought we did a little bit better job on the glass and on the defensive boards, got in passing lanes and created some opportunities in the open floor that gave us easy scoring options. I just think our play was better. Alexis and Shannon played really well, but Alberta came in and was very efficient for us, as well. That's something we haven't had in the past consistently is great guard play.

I don't think we can win this tournament here, I don't think we can get to Tampa, if we don't have great guard play.

Q. LSU really had an easy time of it today. Was it significant that your team, as well, didn't really have to exert or extend itself when you think about going through the entire tournament?

COACH SUMMIT: Well, I think it's important for us as a coaching staff to be mindful of winning and taking the opportunity to not give extended minutes.

I know we were talking about it coming out of halftime, they said, "we need to press, we need to press." I said, "no, we don't need to press."

I understand, because they're a lot like I am, and with Nicky and Holly, they both played in the program, so they know we're all about keeping pressure on with our defense and extending our defense. But I told our team I'd really like to run our match up zone as well as we could as well as our three two zone and get better in the half court. I certainly never told them we weren't going to play hard by any means.

I think we had some good looks at what we needed to do to cover the three ball, and they adjusted well out of it for the most part, our team did.

Q. I had kind of a silly question. How's your shoulder doing?

COACH SUMMIT: My shoulder is fine. That raccoon is in bad shape.

Q. Which shoulder was it?

COACH SUMMIT: It was my right shoulder. Anyway, not a very good decision on my part. Sometimes I tend to react without thinking. But I am here, alive and well.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Coach, we'll see you tomorrow.

Florida Postgame Quotes--

THE MODERATOR: Coach, if you could, an opening comment.

COACH BUTLER: Obviously any time you lose a ballgame you're disappointed. We got beat by what I think is the best team in the country, and they're talented, they're deep, and obviously they're very, very well coached. There were certain aspects of our ballgame I was very, very proud of, and there were aspects of it that were disappointing.

I think the thing that's most impressive about Tennessee is how deep they can go and how much talent they can bring off the bench. That's really hard to counter.

Our transition defense was not our best tonight, and I felt that was where we really broke down. I was proud of our rebounding effort, that was a big turnaround from the last time we played them. But we were beat by an exceptional ballclub.

Q. What did you think when you saw Marshae go down and how did that affect the game?

DEPREE BOWDEN: When I saw Marshae go down I knew me and Sha would have to step it up and people off the bench would have to step it up, as well. It affected our low post game because some people on the bench weren't used to playing minutes, so that was kind of different.

SHA BROOKS: I didn't really see Marshae fall down so I didn't realize she wasn't in the game, but by then we realized that the post players had to step it up and the guards, as well.

Q. Whose decision was it to wear the orange uniforms today?

DEPREE BOWDEN: I think I had a lot to do with that. I like playing the orange.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you, players. Anything for Coach?

Q. Early on, I think Marshae was 1 for 8 out of the gate and you were getting some the ball at least under the basket. How discouraging was it you weren't able to finish there, and did you feel like maybe there could have been more calls and if things had gone that direction you might have gotten to the line a little bit more?

COACH BUTLER: That was one of our objectives was to try to get to the free throw line. We felt like we could do that if we were aggressive. Clearly I was wrong, but that happens sometimes.

I felt like we were attacking and I thought we were being aggressive, and that's all I asked my team to do. If fouls aren't called or shots are blocked, those are things that are not within our control so not worth talking about.

Q. How tough is it Marshae going down, having to watch her have to sit from the bench? How tough is it and how much does it change things?

COACH BUTLER: Well, it certainly changes things, but if we were a team that we're looking for reasons why we lost, we're never going to point to an injury or an excuse. Marshae being on the floor or not on the floor doesn't have anything to do with the way we play transition defense, and I thought that was our biggest weakness tonight. Did we miss her? Absolutely. She's our leading scorer and our leading rebounder; that's obvious. But we're not playing tennis or golf. This is a team sport, and when things don't go your way in one area then you've got to fill in in another area. We were able to generate 61 points. We just gave up way too many in the full court. They scored 92, and I felt that had a lot to do with transition defense, or maybe I should say a lack thereof.

Q. You mentioned the transition D. How hard is that momentum to get back against a team like Tennessee?

COACH BUTLER: It's very hard. They're a momentum team. They generate their momentum. They've got such great fans, and you get all that orange in the stands yelling and chanting, it really creates a snowball effect sometimes. We just we missed assignments and I didn't feel like our communication and our defensive transition was what it should have been. But again, they're fantastic individual players.

They're so threatening with the ball, you've got to match up with everyone. You can't miss one assignment or leave one person open or she'll be the one that hurts you. But they do a great job of making it feel like that everything is closing in on you, and there's only so many timeouts in a game that you can call and try to break up some of that momentum. In their instance that's players making plays, and I think that's one of the things that's admirable about the things that Tennessee tries to do to you is they just put their players in positions to succeed and then they let them go, and they do. They succeed and they fully expect to succeed every time.

Q. What did Marshae do?

COACH BUTLER: I really don't know yet. I don't know the details of the injury. The detail I got, she can't go back in the ballgame. That was the one that I was made aware of.

Q. Inside ten minutes Hornbuckle was trying to lead a break and she missed two people in the paint that she was going for. She said one of your people got a hand on it, another player picks it up and throws in a three. Even when you had a chance to stop them, is that the kind of thing that when things are unraveling

COACH BUTLER: A little bit. There's just no area that you can break down in. There's no hey, we won't guard her, we'll put two people on her or we'll stop the ball and not worry about their fliers, then their fliers will knock shots down. They're a very well rounded team. It's a very well balanced attack. You look at what they did numbers wise, they had three kids in high double figures and two other kids with eight. So you don't have to play a perfect ballgame to beat Tennessee; I don't think that's true with anyone. But you do have to minimize your errors and mistakes, and that was the one area that I felt like for us was just not up to par today.

Q. The final outcome was similar to the game in Knoxville, but it seemed like you guys hung around for most of the first half. Were you proud of your team for staying in it longer today?

COACH BUTLER: I was proud of our effort and our fight. I felt like we had a lot of people that didn't fault until our tanks were just empty. That's always what we want to do. Our goal with this program, I don't think that we were operating under the illusion that we were going to go in undefeated this season. We wanted to go in and battle and fight and compete and feel like at the end of every day we had gotten better. That doesn't always mean that the scoreboard was going to be in our favor and the end result was going to be in our favor.

Tonight was one of those games. If we had played better transition defense would we have beaten Tennessee? That's impossible to say. I know we were down 15 at the half and I think we had given up 17 transition points and then they outscored us by 15 in the second half and it was a similar result in transition.

So there were a lot of things that we did make go our way. Again, the rebounding war was something we were really concerned with. We got our butts kicked on the boards in Knoxville and we responded to that challenge and got 20 offensive rebounds against one of the top rebounding teams in the country.

Q. Do you think you've done enough now to be playing in the postseason?

COACH BUTLER: I know that we'll be playing in the postseason. It's just a matter of who we'll be playing against and which tournament we'll be participating in, and regardless of how that works out, I think you'll see the same excitement and fire and determination and all the things that I think have been characteristics of this ballclub since we first tipped it up against Xavier, and you'll see our best.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Coach.

Story Courtesy: The SEC


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