February 22, 2004

Tennessee looks to wrap up SEC title against Mississippi
(3) Tennessee (22-2) vs. Mississippi (15-10)
Game Info: 3:00 pm EST Sun Feb 22, 2004

Tennessee has already clinched at least a share of its seventh straight Southeastern Conference regular-season championship. This title, however, hasn't come quite as easily as some of the others.

The third-ranked Lady Vols look to claim the conference crown outright as they visit SEC rival Mississippi on Sunday.

Tennessee (22-2, 11-0) beat Florida 88-79 on Thursday for its 31st straight regular-season SEC win and 53rd consecutive conference win at home. The win, along with LSU's loss to Vanderbilt, put Tennessee three games ahead of the Lady Tigers with three games remaining for both teams.

But Tennessee trailed the Gators by as many as nine points and needed a 14-0 second-half run to pull out the win.

``We are used to it,'' said Tasha Butts, who scored 18 points. ``It is sad to say, but the whole season we have been playing in a lot of close games. That's just the type of team we have this year. We have to learn to put people away.''

The Lady Vols have overcome deficits of 14 points at Georgia, six at Vanderbilt, and needed overtime to get past Auburn en route to their perfect conference mark.

Coach Pat Summitt said that the tight games have forced her do more yelling from the sidelines.

``I have to work hard every possession. There's no question I've been more vocal,'' she said. ``It's not that I didn't feel that in other games. But when you're up 25, you're not worried so much about we've got to score this next possession or we have to have a defensive stop.''

Shanna Zolman scored 23 points against the Gators, and Shyra Ely added 18 for Tennessee, which was without guard Brittany Jackson. Jackson, who sprained a ligament in her left knee, will miss two-to-three weeks.

The Lady Vols have already lost point guard Loree Moore for the rest of the season after she tore a left knee ligament last month.

``This league does not have a whole lot of blowouts,'' Summitt said. ``Having to go to Ole Miss and Arkansas and having to play LSU without having two players that give us a lot more freedom will be difficult.''

The Lady Rebels (15-10, 6-5) are coming off last Sunday's 79-62 loss to No. 18 Georgia, their second straight defeat and third in six games.

Amber Terrell had 16 points and 12 rebounds and Carletta Brown added 10 points for Mississippi. Armintie Price, who leads the Lady Rebels with 14.5 points per game, was held to nine.

Tennessee leads the all-time series 26-7, and has won 18 of the last 20 meetings.

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