KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - Tennessee got the ball to
Candace Parker inside - just the way coach Pat Summitt prefers.
Parker had 22 points and
11 rebounds, and the third-ranked Lady Vols pulled away in the second half for a 73-57 win over No. 9 Georgia on Monday night.
Parker turned it on in the second half after scoring only four points in the first. She found a way to score around tough defenders in the paint, and her teammates benefited with open outside shots.
''No one can really defend Parker on the inside unless they do double-team her. She's the kind of player who can make people pay by kicking out of the double-teams,'' Summitt said. ''I think that's the way we have to play if we want to be one of the best teams in the country. We just have to have the inside-outside mentality.''
Alexis Hornbuckle added 14 points and Alex Fuller had 11 for the Lady Vols (21-2,
8-0 Southeastern Conference), who opened the second half with a 16-2 run.
Tennessee had a six-point lead at halftime and stretched it to 20 at the beginning of the second half. Sidney Spencer scored all nine of her points during the spurt, and Parker had five.
Nicky Anosike's inside basket with 14:47 to go made it 43-23. Georgia finally scored on Angel Robinson's basket 20 seconds later.
The Lady Bulldogs (19-5, 6-3) could not rally and had their five-game winning streak snapped. Their previous loss was to Tennessee at home, 52-41 on Jan. 14.
Georgia made that game much more physical and often brought two or three defenders to guard Parker in the paint. She was held to 10 points in Athens.
''I think we came out and attacked - just going to the basket and running on them and getting to the free throw line,'' Parker said. ''I learned from the first half.''
Tasha Humphrey led Georgia with 17 points and 10 rebounds, and freshman Ashley Houts added 11 points.
Georgia got as close as 44-29 in the second half on Cori Chambers' putback. But Parker scored eight straight Tennessee points around a pair of free throws by Humphrey, and the Lady Vols were back up 52-31 with 9:47 left.
''Early, we executed well in spite of turnovers. But the turnovers were too many for us to be in any better shape than we were score-wise,'' Georgia coach Andy Landers said. ''In the second half, Tennessee got momentum by taking the ball inside. We were poor in our efforts to keep it out of there.''
The Lady Bulldogs kept up with the fast pace but could not make enough shots. They shot 38 percent from the field (19 of 50) and had 19 turnovers.
''Obviously, very pleased with our defensive intensity. It's one of our best efforts. Alexis Hornbuckle set the tone for how we were going to play on the defensive end,'' Summitt said.
Hornbuckle had 12 points by halftime, plus five rebounds and four assists.
But she slowed down in the second half, finishing with nine rebounds and seven assists.
''We knew they were going to come in here with a vengeance because we beat them on their home court, and the SEC was pretty much up for grabs if we lost this game,'' Hornbuckle said. ''They had a lot to lose and a lot to gain, so they were going to come out hard.''
In the first half, the teams combined to attempt 52 shots, many on quick jumpers.
Georgia hasn't beaten Tennessee since the SEC tournament semifinals in 2004, a span of six games.
Tennessee grabbed its biggest lead of the first half when Cait McMahan hit a 3-pointer - off an assist by Hornbuckle - with 6 seconds left. The Lady Vols went into the break ahead 27-21.
Georgia tied it at 20 with 3:35 left after an 8-3 run capped by Janese Hardrick's driving layup. Then, after two scoreless minutes, Hornbuckle tapped in her own miss.