The Tennessee Lady Vols grabbed their 300th all-time win in the SEC while staying undefeated in the conference, defeating the Florida Gators 61-39 in the Thompson-Boling Arena on Thursday night.
The game remained close for a little more than a minute, as Lady Vols freshman Meighan Simmons was the only UT player to score, scoring the team's first four points.
"You are looking at a team that is very, very good," UT coach Pat Summitt said. "I don't know that we came out and respected this team early. That disappoints me, because I think we have to commit to that all the time."
Florida couldn't keep up with the Lady Vols much longer, though, as UT scored 14 unanswered points against the Gators to go ahead 18-7.
Florida junior Jordan Jones ended the streak, hitting both of her free throws after a foul by UT's Kamiko Williams. Florida rallied around Jones' free throws and put together its own drive, scoring seven unanswered points to close within 4.
The Lady Vols went into the locker room at the half, leading 27-18.
Stricklen led the offense, scoring 12 in the first half, hitting on 6-of-8 shots. Junior Glory Johnson entered the locker room without taking a shot and played only seven minutes.
"(Johnson) had no energy; I could sprint faster than she did that first half," Summitt said. "I told her that I wouldn't accept that. Great habbits are hard to break, and bad habits are hard to break. I told her, 'You are going to have to bring it every game if you want to stay in the lineup.'"
Johnson did just that, hitting a layup and a free throw 14 seconds into the second half.
The Lady Vols continued to score, scoring 12 unanswered points to bring the score to 39-18. Johnson scored 16 points in the second half and came away with five rebounds.
""Tennessee is the team to beat in our league," Florida coach Amanda Butler said. "I don't think we started the second half prepared to win the ball game, and I think that showed itself. One of the things that makes Tennessee so hard to beat is that you take a really talented player out of the line up and there is not really a huge drop-off if there is a drop off at all."
The Lady Vols controlled the game from that point, never allowing the Gators to get within 12 points, holding onto a 20-point lead for the last four minutes of the game.
Tennessee will take on Vanderbilt in Nashville on Friday, and will look to keep its undefeated streak in SEC play alive.