For the first time this season the third-ranked Tennessee Lady Vols were put to a tough test, as they hosted the seventh-ranked Miami Hurricanes Tuesday night in the State Farm Tip-off Classic. The Lady Vols’ depth was too much for the Hurricanes in the end, as five players finished in double figures in UT’s 92-76 victory, extending their home win streak to 38.
    
One of the storylines on the night was the match-up between the Lady Vols senior forward Shekinna Stricklen and the Hurricanes’ senior guard Shenise Johnson, who were both selected as preseason first-team All-Americans. Stricklen finished with 15 points (12 in second half) on 6-of-13 shooting and had seven rebounds, while Johnson scored 17 points on 8-of-19 and gathered nine rebounds.
   
 “We’ve got to have Shekinna put up big numbers to win, and that’s the bottom line,” said UT associate head coach Holly Warlick. “She didn’t get the job done in the first half but she responded and came out and had some big buckets in the second half. Your big time players have to step up for you to win.”
    
With the national spotlight locked in on “The Summitt,” both teams came out strong on the offensive side of the ball, especially from three-point land.
    
Miami took an early 8-2 lead and were hot from downtown, as senior guard Riquna Willams sunk her third three-pointer at the 16:03 mark to put the Canes’ up 16-10. However, the Lady Vols answered back without hesitation.
    
Highlighted by an Ariel Massengale three-pointer, the Lady Vols went on an 8-0 run to take back the lead 18-16 with 13:33 before the half. In the first seven minutes the two teams had combined for eight successful three-pointers.
    
The battle between the two carried on into the half with the score tied at 42 at intermission.
    
Leading scorers at halftime were UT’s Taber Spani with 13 points and UM’s Williams with 17. Massengale at the half had six points and eight assists.
   
 “At the beginning of the game, everyone was talking about, ‘stay confident,’”Massengale said. “It doesn’t matter who you’re playing against. We came out ready to play.”
    
Massengale’s presence on the floor continued to be a major asset early in the second period, as the 5-foot-6 point guard led UT on an 18-4 run to take a 60-46 lead with 16:10 left in the game.
    
The Canes’ fought their way back again with a 20-13 run, cutting the lead down to five. However, Spani and the Lady Vols quickly extinguished their opponent’s momentum, as she hit her fourth three-pointer as the shot clock expired, giving UT a 76-68 lead with 6:31 left to play.
    
The Lady Vols sealed the deal, outscoring the Canes’ 16-8 on their way to the impressive early-season victory over a team that many believe have the best guards in the country in Johnson and Williams.
    
“It certainly felt like a March game in November,” said UT coach Pat Summitt. “I’m proud of how our team responded tonight against a really good Miami team.”
    
For the second straight game the Lady Vols had five players finished in double figures scoring: Spani (20), Simmons (18), Glory Johnson (16), Stricklen (15) and Massengale (11). Massengale finished one assist away from a double-double.
    
Williams led Miami in scoring with a game-high 24 points.
    
UT shot 47.8 percent from the field, while the Canes’ shot 40.8 percent. The Lady Vols were outrebounded 44-39, just the third time that has happened in the past two seasons.
    
Miami turned the ball over 21 times on the night while UT only had 13 turnovers.
    
The next opponent on the schedule for the No. 3 Lady Vols (2-0) will be an away square-off with the ACC’s Virginia Lady Cavaliers (2-0) on Monday, Nov. 20 at 2 P.M. EST.