KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee’s Kelley Cain positioned herself on one post while Alyssia Brewer took the other one. Arkansas could handle one at times, rarely both.
Cain scored 14 points, grabbed 17 rebounds and blocked eight shots, Brewer scored 20 and pulled in nine rebounds and No. 5 Tennessee beat Arkansas 74-57 on Thursday night.
“One of them shoots it on one block, the other one rebounds it on the other block,” Razorbacks coach Tom Collen said. “They’re a nightmare to defend.”
With eight games left in the regular season, Tennessee got its 20th win – a feat that took the Lady Vols (20-2, 8-1 Southeastern Conference) until the final game of the season a year ago. It’s the 34th consecutive season they’ve gotten at least 20 wins under coach Pat Summitt.
And even though the win kept Tennessee on top of the SEC and gave the Lady Vols their 21st win over Arkansas in 22 tries, Summitt still wasn’t completely pleased.
Sloppy screens and shots by the guards kept the Lady Vols from getting off to a fast start against one of the SEC’s worst teams.
The Razorbacks (9-13, 1-8) read the screens and had an easy time predicting the Lady Vols’ passes, making it easy for them to snatch the ball. C’eira Ricketts had five of Arkansas’s 11 steals which helped lead to 10 fastbreak points.
“The guards were trying to do too much,” Summitt said. “I said, ‘Get the ball inside. We’re going to play from the inside, out.’ That really changed how we played.”
Brewer and Cain both hit layups as Tennessee scored seven straight points to pull away from Arkansas in the first half. Glory Johnson missed her first free throw attempt but sank the second to give the Lady Vols an 18-10 lead with 9:12 left in the first half.
Tennessee finished with 40 points in the paint.
“We always emphasize getting the ball inside because we have two of the best posts in the country,” Tennessee’s Angie Bjorklund said. “They work really well together. I thought they both really battled inside, and I was proud of them. I hope they continue to play like that.”
The Lady Vols led 31-23 at halftime but could have been much more in control had they not missed six of 10 free throw attempts before the break.
Tennessee entered the game averaging an uncharacteristically low 63.6 percent on free throws in SEC play and hit just 54.5 percent against the Razorbacks.
The Lady Vols pulled away in the second half thanks to some help from Bjorklund, who scored all of her 17 points after halftime, including seven straight points. Shekinna Stricklen finished with 12 points.
They couldn’t completely shake the Razorbacks, who continued to threaten with their outside shooting.
Charity Ford led the way with 18 points and Ricketts added 13. Lyndsay Harris scored four of Arkansas’ nine 3s and finished with 12 points.
“We can’t beat teams that way,” Ford said. “We have to be able to get it inside.”
Summitt put Kamiko Williams at the point guard position in her first-ever start for the Lady Vols in hopes of curing some of her team’s offensive woes. Williams was coming off a career-high 17 points in a sloppy win over South Carolina.
It didn’t work quite as Summitt had hoped. Williams was responsible for two early turnovers, and Summitt pulled her at the first media timeout, opting instead for what she called “point guard by committee.”
“I thought (Williams would) be a lot better, but this is her first start at that position so we’ve got time,” Summitt said.