Tennessee to host Georgia today

The Lady Vols host Georgia in the SEC home opener today at Thompson-Boling Arena. Go inside with InsideTennessee to get ready for the game.

No. 12/13 Tennessee (10-3, 1-0) takes on No. 10/11 Georgia (13-1, 1-0) on Sunday at 1 p.m. Eastern (TV: SportSouth)

The longtime rivalry – the first matchup was Feb. 15, 1969, a 38-26 Lady Vol win – will record its 60th matchup today with Tennessee holding a 44-15 overall advantage.

The Lady Bulldogs, led by Andy Landers, the longest tenured coach in the SEC at 32 years in Athens, Ga., last beat Tennessee in 2010.

It is an early top 15 matchup for two teams expected to contend in the league, and both are coming off wins in their SEC openers on Thursday – Tennessee on the road against South Carolina, while Georgia hosted league newcomer Missouri.

Kyra Elzy, an assistant coach and former Lady Vol player, drew the scouting assignment to get Tennessee ready for Georgia.

"In transition they are extremely versatile," Elzy said. "They have several people that can bring the ball up and make plays. We haven't guarded that in a while. They have three or four players that can bring the ball up, which is hard to guard.

"Offensive rebounds, we are going to have to box out. We struggled with that in the first half against South Carolina, and they crash the boards like animals, so we are going to have to box out."

Tennessee didn't have a single offensive board against the Gamecocks in the first half and was down 21-9 on the glass at the break.

Elzy just smiled and shook her head when asked if she could remember any time as a player when Tennessee didn't grab at least one offensive board in a half. Could she imagine her then coach Pat Summitt's reaction at halftime? In this case, Summitt, the head coach emeritus, was back home and watching the game on television.

"No, I can't imagine," Elzy said Saturday. "Yesterday in practice I said, ‘Coach Summitt, I have a feeling when you were watching the game, you were like, ‘Rebound!' and she said, ‘Oh, I was saying that as loud as possible.' I can't imagine.

"But we did bounce back in the second half."

The Lady Vols did indeed. They out-rebounded South Carolina 30-19 in the second half and snared 10 offensive boards.

"We just talked to them at halftime about being physical and not being afraid to play physical," Elzy said. "Of course they were extremely rough with us, and I think that took our kids back early, but I think we adjusted in the second half."

Offensively, the Lady Vols need to be patient. Georgia is likely to deploy some zone looks at Tennessee.

"We really need to work against their zone to take good shots and not quick shots," Elzy said.

Georgia gets points from an assortment of players led by the senior Jasmines of Tennessee – Jasmine James, the leading scorer at 12.8 points per game, who is from Memphis; and Jasmine Hassell, who averages 11.8 points and hails from Lebanon.

"They're well balanced," Elzy said. "We have to make them play fast. We want to force them into turnovers, make them make decisions because offensively they are as skilled as anyone in the country if you give them time to set up and look for their primary looks.

"They are very talented in that way."

Landers has used his roster so far this season, with James being a beneficiary. After averaging 35.4 minutes in her first three seasons, the senior now logs 25.4 minutes per game.

"She is playing fabulous," Elzy said. "She is playing with a lot more energy because she doesn't have to save it. They are deeper. He did a great job with his recruiting class and adding depth to his roster."

Elzy is very familiar with Georgia, both as a player and as a coach since she joined Tennessee's staff after four years at Kentucky.

"What I remember about playing Georgia is always having to guard the twins," Elzy said, referring to Kelly and Coco Miller. "The shooters. For some reason that always sticks in my head.

"Coach Landers has done a great job with his program and the tradition that this program has, and as a player, coach Summitt always got us fired up for SEC play," Elzy said. "So we hope to follow suit."

PROBABLE STARTERS

Tennessee coach Holly Warlick is expected to start: Ariel Massengale, 5-6 sophomore guard, No. 5, hails from Bolingbrook, Ill. (8.5 points per game, 2.3 rebounds per game, 3.8 assists per game); Meighan Simmons, 5-9 junior guard, No. 10, hails from Cibolo, Texas (15.8 ppg, 3.4 rpg); Taber Spani, 6-1 senior forward, No. 13, hails from Lee's Summit, Mo. (7.8 ppg, 3.6 rpg); Bashaara Graves, 6-2 freshman forward, No. 12, hails from Clarksville, Tenn. (13.6 ppg, 8.7 rpg); and Isabelle Harrison, 6-3 sophomore forward, No. 20, hails from Nashville, Tenn. (10.8 ppg, 8.1 rpg, 2.6 blocks per game).

Spani has replaced sophomore Cierra Burdick, who broke her right hand Monday. Burdick will continue to be evaluated but, as of now, she doesn't need surgery and she could return in four weeks.

The hand will be examined diagnostically week by week to ensure the bone is healing properly, and the first two weeks are critical. If all goes well, Burdick could be back in the first week of February.

Georgia coach Andy Landers is expected to start: Jasmine James, 5-9 senior guard, No. 10 (12.8 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 3.3 apg), hails from Memphis, Tenn., Khaalidah Miller, 5-9 junior guard, No. 1 (9.5 ppg, 4.1 rpg), hails from Atlanta, Ga., put up 20 points against St. Bonaventure; Shacobia Barbee, 5-10 freshman forward, No. 20 (5.2 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 3.7 apg), hails from Murfreesboro, Tenn., earned start in season opener against Rutgers, grabbed eight boards against Georgia Tech, was AAA Miss Tennessee Basketball as junior and senior at Riverdale High School;Anne Marie Armstrong, 6-3 senior forward, No. 3 (7.6 ppg, 4.6 rpg), hails from Norcross, Ga., voted to preseason All-SEC team by media and coaches, needs 123 points to reach 1,000 for career; and Jasmine Hassell, 6-2 senior forward/center, No. 12 (11.8 ppg, 5.6 rpg), hails from Lebanon, Tenn., tailed 22 points against Georgia Tech on 10-13 shooting, her mother Gail played for Belmont from 1981-84 and was the career scoring leader at 1,814 points.

That is three starters from the state of Tennessee with one more from the Volunteer State off the bench in Marjorie Butler, a 5-8 freshman guard from Knoxville who was a standout at Webb School and is averaging nearly 15 minutes a game.

Tennessee counters with two starters from its home state – Harrison and Graves with a third off the bench in Kamiko Williams, who is from Clarksville.

The Lady Vols had a starter from the state of Georgia in Andraya Carter, who is from Flowery Branch, but the freshman had season-ending shoulder surgery last December.

THEY BACK PAT: Assistant coach Kyra Elzy is donating $50 to the Pat Summitt Foundation every time the Lady Vols get an SEC win this season.

Sally Jenkins, a sportswriter for the Washington Post and author of two Summitt books with a third on the way in the spring, agreed to match Elzy's donations and challenged others via Twitter to join in the fund-raising endeavor.

The campaign is similar to what Kara Lawson and her husband, Damien Barling, have done. Lawson donated money for every three ball she made last season in the WNBA, and Barling has taken to the road, including the New York City Marathon, to raise money for Summitt's foundation, which focuses on Alzheimer's research and education.

"I wanted to give back for Alzheimer's, not only coach Summitt but my grandmother had it," Elzy said. "I thought it was a great way to give back and help the fight for a cure."

Elzy also mentioned the venture on Twitter and said she and her husband, Dexter Lander, had banked $50 for Summitt's foundation after the win at South Carolina.

"I hope I have to dig deep," Elzy said Saturday. "That means we are doing well."

PUPPY LOVE: Kyra Elzy joked that her husband – they married last summer and then she had to hit the recruiting trail – doesn't miss her as much when she is traveling because he now has a chocolate lab puppy.

Bruh, who was a gift from Elzy to her husband, has been featured in photos on her Twitter and Instagram accounts.

"I think he likes to stay home because of the dog. Forget about me. He has a new best friend," Elzy said with a big smile. "He is so cute."

Assistant coach Jolette Law enjoys visits with Bruh.

"When coach Law comes over, he bites her because she rough-houses him, and she gets him so fired up, I have to put him in his cage," Elzy said.

ON TAP: All 14 SEC teams are in action Sunday. The other matchups are: Kentucky at Alabama; Texas A&M at Arkansas; Auburn at Missouri; LSU at Florida; Vanderbilt at Ole Miss; and South Carolina at Mississippi State.

GAME NOTES

Tennessee leads the series with Georgia, 44-15. The Lady Vols are 18-4 at home against the Lady Bulldogs. Georgia last won in Knoxville on Dec. 8, 1996, a 94-93 win in overtime. …Tennessee is the only SEC team with a winning record against Georgia. The Lady Bulldogs' 15 wins are also the second-most against Tennessee. That ties Maryville College, a series that began in 1903 and ended in 1974, with Tennessee in the hole 8-15. It trails the 17 won by Louisiana Tech against the Lady Vols. Tennessee leads the overall series with Louisiana Tech, 24-17, after starting 1-11 from 1978 to 1987 against the then-powerhouse of women's basketball. … Sunday's game features a giveaway for 2013. The first 2,000 fans will receive a Lady Vols calendar.

INSIDE TENNESSEE VIDEOS

Vicki Baugh has been playing pro ball in South Korea. She chatted with InsideTennessee on Saturday while in Knoxville.

Holly Warlick talks Saturday before the Georgia game


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