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Dunlap picks up another SEC player of year award

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ATLANTA (AP)

Victoria Dunlap dominated the stat sheet. Tennessee was unbeatable in the Southeastern Conference.

Both received their due on The Associated Press All-SEC team.

Dunlap, the Wildcats' senior star, was selected Tuesday as player of the year for the second straight season, while the Lady Vols claimed two awards after winning the regular-season championship with a perfect record and romping through the conference tournament.

Pat Summitt was honored as AP coach of the year for the fifth time. Tennessee freshman Meighan Simmons was selected as newcomer of the year.

Dunlap, a 6-foot-1 senior forward, also was a unanimous choice to the first team. She was joined by a pair of Tennessee players, Shekinna Stricklen and Glory Johnson, along with Georgia's Porsha Phillips and Alabama's Tierney Jenkins.

Simmons made the second team, as did LSU's LeSondra Barrett, Mississippi's Kayla Melson, Arkansas' C'eira Ricketts and Vanderbilt's Jence Rhoads.

Dunlap led the SEC in scoring (17.0 points a game), field-goal percentage (.463) and steals (3.1). She also ranked fourth in rebounding (8.8) and tied for fifth in blocked shots (1.5).

''In my mind, there could be no other choice,'' Kentucky coach Matthew Mitchell said. ''She was very important to our team and she dominated our conference statistically. She is not only the best player in the SEC but she is truly one of the elite players in the country.''

Led by Dunlap, Kentucky (24-8) finished second in the league and opens the NCAA tournament against Hampton on Saturday.

''Really, all the credit goes to my teammates and coaching staff for helping me become the best player I can be,'' she said. ''None of this would be possible without them. I'm so proud to work hard everyday for this team and the University of Kentucky. We now have our sights on winning the national championship.''

So does Tennessee (31-2), a top seed in the NCAAs after romping through the conference with a 16-0 mark. Summitt has won more than 1,000 games in her career and is going for her ninth national championship.

The Lady Vols open the tournament at home Saturday against Stetson.

''It's all about having great players,'' Summitt said. ''I always say I've never scored a basket for the University of Tennessee. It's all about the people that have invested in this. It's great to be surrounded by people that are in your court and want to see you do the right things and help you along the way. This team has matured tremendously. I'm really happy for them.''

Simmons, a 5-foot-9 guard, made an immediate impact in the Lady Vols' backcourt, putting up the fifth-best scoring average (13.7) in the SEC.

''I could have never done it without my teammates and being on a winning team, just going out there and playing our game and playing at another level,'' she said. ''I've always thought, 'I want to be on ESPN one day,' but I never thought it would be to this point.''

Stricklen, who was named player of the year by the league's coaches, finished second in the AP balloting but claimed a spot on the first team by averaging 12.6 points (12th in the SEC) and 7.5 rebounds (sixth). Her teammate, Johnson, made the team with the SEC's third-best rebounding average (9.6) and 11.9 points a game.

Phillips averaged a double-double in leading Georgia to an NCAA bid. She was the conference's top rebounder (10.8) and put up 11.1 points game. Jenkins did the same for Alabama, ranking second in the SEC in both scoring (15.4) and rebounding (10.7).

The 15th annual AP All-SEC women's squad was selected by a regional media panel.

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