Texas earns fourth straight win over Tennessee
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) -- Texas owns Tennessee right now.
Tiffany Jackson scored 19 points and had a career-high eight blocks as No. 4 Texas knocked off No. 1 Tennessee 74-59 Thursday night, the Longhorns' fourth straight win over the Lady Vols.
"Too much Texas for Tennessee," said Lady Vols coach Pat Summitt, who spent a frustrating night watching her team shoot just 33 percent while allowing Jackson to hit just about anything she wanted on the other end.
"There was way too much Jackson," Summitt said. "She's a great anchor for their program."
The win extended Texas' home winning streak to 38 -- the longest in the nation -- and ended a seven-game losing skid to top-ranked teams. Texas (2-1) hadn't beaten a No. 1 team since knocking off Tennessee in 1987.
The rivalry pits the winningest coaches in the women's game: Summitt and Texas coach Jody Conradt rank 1-2 in career victories.
"I think it's always fun against Tennessee," Texas guard Jaime Carey said. "I think we've established a nice little rivalry with them."
Conradt had to chuckle at that.
"I don't see too much nice about it during the 40 minutes on the court," she said.
History aside, this game belonged to Jackson, who appears ready to emerge as the dominant force for the Longhorns.
"Whenever you see Tennessee, you want to bring your best game," Jackson said.
Jackson hit consecutive buckets and had three blocks in the first two minutes of the second half. Then she added a short jumper, followed by a midcourt steal and layup, to give Texas a 41-30 lead with about 14 minutes to play.
The Longhorns held a double-digit lead for most of the second half.
Tennessee (3-1), which opened the season at No. 1 for the 11th time and the first time since 1998, never got in sync offensively. Shyra Ely, a preseason All-American, scored just four points on 2-of-10 shooting.
The Lady Vols had a whopping 24-9 advantage in offensive rebounds but squandered it with poor shooting and 18 turnovers. Brittany Jackson led Tennessee with 14 points.
"You have to make shots," Summitt said. "That's the bottom line."
Meanwhile, Texas overcame 23 turnovers of its own with 60 percent shooting, including a torrid 73 percent in the second half, even with standout senior forward Heather Schreiber fouling out with 10 points.
Annissa Hastings, a senior who missed all of last season with a torn Achilles' tendon, scored 13 points for Texas on 5-of-6 shooting. Nina Norman added nine points, including a key 3-pointer late that ended a Tennessee rally almost as soon as it started.
The Lady Vols had trimmed a 14-point deficit to 61-52 when Loree Moore hit a 3-pointer and Alexis Hornbuckle converted a steal into a layup with just under five minutes left.
After Texas called timeout, Kala Bowers hit a jumper and Tennessee backed off Norman on the right wing before she swished the 3-pointer that pushed the lead back to 66-53.
"That's not the first time she's hit a shot that was like a dagger," Conradt said.
Norman hit the game-winning 3-pointer against Tennessee in their last meeting in Austin in 2002.
For Texas, the win should help shake off any lingering effects of a 78-64 road loss to No. 3 Georgia in which the Longhorns' veteran lineup squandered a 15-point lead.
"I expected this kind of performance after the Georgia game," Conradt said. "We probably had an inflated perception of ourselves going into Athens."
Summitt knew better than to expect a win in Austin.
"Our team respects Texas. They have beaten us four in a row and beat us by 10 last year in Knoxville," Summitt said. "We were not surprised."
On going up against Jody Conradt...
Tennessee sophomore F Sidney Spencer
Texas Head Coach Jody Conradt
Tonight, I liked the personality we had on the court. There are no easy possessions against a great team like Tennessee. They are worthy of giving your best every time down the court. You've got to play your very best game against them. They are hard-nosed and rebound the ball so well, as evidenced by our rebounding battle all night long. We fought for every possession. I thought Tiffany (Jackson) was pretty amazing tonight, and our guard play was incredibly better than it was in the last two games. Tiffany has always been highly competitive; right now, we are watching Tiffany pick up her intensity and consistency, which makes her competitiveness pay off. We know we can be a good team defensively, but what we needed to see was solid guard play, especially in pushing the ball. Our team started to push the ball much better tonight than we have. Nina (Norman) also had another big 3-point dagger tonight against Tennessee again, didn't she? (Note: her 3-pointer with 4:02 to play put Texas up by 13, 66-53; two years ago in Austin, Norman hit the game-winning 3-pointer with seconds left on the clock in UT's 63-62 win in Austin).
To beat a team like Tennessee four times in a row is very difficult. I have tremendous respect for Pat (Summitt) and the Tennessee program. Tonight, we had lots of people contribute - just like we have in the last three games against Tennessee, and that's a good thing due to the matchup we face every time we go against Tennessee."
On the nearly 12,000 in attendance ...
Texas Senior G Jamie Carey
"First, we have tremendous respect for the Tennessee program, period. Whether they are ranked No. 1 or No. 4 or whatever, really doesn't matter. We are going to approach the game the same way every time we play them. It's developed into a nice little rivalry! You know it's always gonna be a battle when we play them. Like Coach (Conradt) said, it's contributions from everyone that makes the difference. We knew that Tennessee would make a big push in the beginning of the game, and then to start the second half. The first four minutes of every half are crucial, and we want to be the ones setting the tone. We wanted to push the ball to start each half, and we did that tonight."
Texas Sophomore F Tiffany Jackson
Texas Junior G Nina Norman