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#5 Tennessee thumps Arkansas in SEC opener

BY ANDRES FOCIL
#5 Tennessee thumps Arkansas in SEC opener

     KNOXVILLE – Senior Shameka Christon led the Lady Razorbacks with 17 points but it wasn’t enough to hold the fifth-ranked Lady Vols at bay as Tennessee handed Arkansas an 83-44 defeat to open Southeastern Conference women’s basketball play for both teams.
     Arkansas, 11-4 overall, had its worst offensive game of the season at the hands of the Tennessee, 11-1, defense.
     For the game, the Lady’Backs had a season low 25% from the field, and was outrebounded by Tennessee, 51-33.
     “This was a tough game and disappointing in how we competed,” UA women’s basketball head coach Susie Gardner said. “It was women against girls. We’d get a rebound and they’d rip it out of our hands. I hope that our younger players learned a lesson tonight.”
     The two teams rematch at the end of February in Fayetteville as Tennessee rotated onto Arkansas’ schedule this year as its home-and-home Eastern Division partner.
     Brittany Jackson and Courtney McDaniel led Tennessee with 14 points each.
     Christon was Arkansas’ only player in double digits while UT had five.
     “She scored some points late, but we didn’t get it from her when we needed it early,” Gardner said. “We needed a big game from her.”
     The Lady’Backs showed some life opening the second half behind Ruby Vaden, but the sophomore center managed only nine points in the game.
     “She battled for us inside, but she couldn’t get it in the hole,” Gardner said.
     Arkansas opened the game playing with Tennessee early, and trailed by only six, 15-9, when Christon hit her first bucket of the evening.
     However, the Lady Vols began to break down the Arkansas offense and held the Lady’Backs scoreless for the next eight minutes. Christon’s next score broke the draught at the 5:21 mark, but the damage was done as Tennessee led 24-11.
     A brief flurry of scoring by the Lady’Backs around the three minute mark was all the offense the team could muster in the opening half as Tennessee went to halftime on a 10-0 run.
     The Lady’Backs shot only 22.2% in the first half with 11 turnovers while Tennessee hit 48% with only six.
     Arkansas returns home to face Ole Miss in the SEC home opener for the Lady’Backs on Sunday. It is Bring a Kid to the Game Day – free admission for each child with a paying adult. Tipoff is 2 p.m. at Bud Walton Arena.



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