First-Half Surge Leads Lady Vols Past Arkansas

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Shanna Zolman emerged from a season-long shooting slump with 16 points as No. 8 Tennessee won its Southeastern Conference opener over Arkansas, 72-54, before 10,974 enthusiastic fans on Thursday night.

So distraught was Zolman over her previous 32 percent field goal shooting that in order to loosen up, she said she imagined a naked person streaking across the lane.

"Now everybody probably thinks I'm a pervert," joked Zolman, who made 5-of-7 shots from the floor, including 3 of 4 3-pointers.

The Lady Vols (11-3, 1-0 SEC) outrebounded a much shorter Arkansas team 46-30, with Shyra Ely getting a double-double (10 points, 11 rebounds).

Arkansas (10-5, 0-4 SEC) fell behind 40-17 by halftime before outplaying the Lady Vols in the second half.

"Our first half was very inspired," said UT coach Pat Summitt. "The second half was ugly, uninspired and unacceptable by our standards. I give Arkansas credit for playing much better."

Lady'Backs coach Susie Gardner commended her team for not throwing in the towel at halftime.

"We just gave the ball to (freshman guard) Brittney Vaughn and let her figure out what she was going to do with it," Gardner said.

Vaughn, who led Arkansas with 13 points off the bench, said, "We tried to attack Tennessee in the second half and not let them attack us like they did in the first half."

Rochelle Vaughn, Brittney's older sister, put Arkansas ahead 3-0 with a long-range jumper, but Tennessee soon took a 4-3 lead on a follow shot by 6-foot-5 centger Tye'sha Fluker (6-of-7, 12 points).

With the Lady Vols executing their offense and playing with intensity on defense, they ran out to a 26-7 lead.

"We couldn't front Tennessee because Fluker is six inches taller than our posts," Gardner said. "We doubled down inside and tried to get Fluker to pass the ball back out. But there's only so much a 5-11 kid can do."

Arkansas' starting forwards, Danielle Allen and Sarah Pfeifer, scored eight and four points, respectively. Ruby Vaden, 6-3, had 6 points and 6 rebounds in 15 minutes off the bench for the Lady'Backs.

"We're not thrilled with the outcome, but we played as hard as we could," Gardner said.

Summitt was asked if she could see a way for Arkansas to come out of its SEC difficulties.

"Yes, their dribble penetration hurt us in the second half," Summitt said. "If they bring that intensity from the second half, they've got a chance to win games in this league. It's a tough league. Anywhere you go on the road is tough. Tonight, Georgia lost at Kentucky."

The Lady Vols played without freshman guard Sa'de Wiley-Gatewood, who had violated a team policy, and with guard Dominique Redding coming off a run-in with Summitt at practice this week. Redding scored 10 points.

"Tonight would have been a great opportunity for Sa'de to get quality minutes against a zone," Summitt said. "I'm disappointed that she took herself out of that opportunity. Redding is a player who can help us -- I don't hold grudges."

Ely, while praising Arkansas' athleticism, admitted, "It's easy to get complacent with the lead we had."

Zolman said the second-half turnaround was a result of Tennessee's "not having a killer instinct."

The Lady Vols shot 43.6 percent to Arkansas' 33.3 percent.

Tennessee now draws Vanderbilt, and Summitt admitted to having sneaked a peek at two Vandy game tapes this week.

"It almost ruined my night," she said.

Arkansas returns home to play Mississippi State at 2 p.m. Sunday.

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