Lady Vols Overwhelm Oklahoma in Season Debut

They're off and running. <p> The Tennessee Lady Vols got the 2002-03 season started in fine fashion Sunday, scoring an impressive 94-68 victory over No. 19 Oklahoma in the State Farm Tip-off Classic held at Thompson-Boling Arena.

Gwen Jackson led the Lady Vols with a career-high 29 points, including 22 in the second stanza. A total of 11 Tennessee players contributed points in the win with four producing double figures. Brittany Jackson knocked down a trio of three-pointers to finish with 13, Kara Lawson added 12 points and Loree Moore netted 10. Shyra Ely narrowly missed double figures with nine points.

In a game that was delayed due to a problem with the lighting, the Lady Vols came out smoking. Tennessee jumped to a 10-0 lead and held the Lady Sooners scoreless for the opening 4:59 of action. Oklahoma rallied briefly and held its only advantage of the game at 17-16 after sinking two free throws with 8:51 remaining, but UT got back on top quickly and finished the half with a 20-11 run for a 36-28 lead at the half.

Tennessee displayed excellent on-the-ball defense throughout the game and forced a steady stream of Sooner turnovers (27) with 17 steals, but the offense didn't get into sync until the second half. Running a new spread offense that requires perpetual motion, good ball movement, sound spacing and consistent reads, the Lady Vols took time to find their flow. However they opened the second half with a 17-to-5 run to build a 20-point lead at 53-33 with 15:52 remaining.

The Lady Sooners, who reached the NCAA Final Four last season for the first time in school history, never threatened again although they did cut UT's cushion to 62-50 at the 10:10 mark. Once again, Tennessee answered the bell, outscoring Oklahoma 20-10 over the next six minutes of play.

The victory, which was No. 789 of Pat Summitt's storied head coaching career, unveiled a quick, deep, talented Tennessee squad. Newcomers Shanna Zolman and Tye'sha Fluker each had their moments. Fluker, a 6-5 center, scored five points and exhibited a soft touch while connecting on a three-pointer. Zolman, a 5-9 four-time All-American guard, finished with six points highlighted by a 4-of-4 effort from the foul line.

Oklahoma was led by freshman post player Teresa Schuknecht who had 27 points and 12 rebounds, hitting 13-of-15 of her free throw attempts. Erin Higgins had 18 points and Caton Hill added 11 points and 14 rebounds.

In the first game of the Tip-off Classic No. 16 Louisiana Tech upset No. 7 Texas Tech 85-76.

Tennessee will play an exhibition game in Knoxville on Nov. 16 before taking on No. 1 Duke in the Jimmy V Classic Nov. 24 in Raleigh-Durham, N.C.

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