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996 and Counting; The Big Round Number Approacheth

Everybody loves big round numbers.  They have lots of zeroes which, by themselves, are so lonely and devoid, but when preceded by a measly one (the loneliest number!), suddenly become portenders of Doom (in the Medieval sense).  Soon enough, Pat Summitt will earn yet another big round number;  she's now 99.6% of the way there, which is far closer than anybody else has come.

This most recent win wasn't easy.  Mississippi State was fielding one of the best, most athletic squad they've had in a long time - a team filled with players who can run the same dribble drive that Vanderbilt used to best the Lady Vols a few days ago.  Additionally, Baugh was still out of the lineup.  Her presence would have been a tremendous help in defending the "drive" part of the MSU offense and allowing the perimeter defenders to guard the three-ball more aggresively.

MSU had more reason to believe they could win.  They were playing at home; the Lady Vols are in a (relative) rebuild with a lot of freshmen; 'dominance' is apparently not a word that applies to the '08-'09 women's basketball season for any team.  Most importantly, MSU was 0-28 against the Lady Vols heading into tonight's game.

Make that 0-29 now.

The Bulldogs held a slim lead within the last couple of minutes of the game (54-56), but went dry on shooting while the Lady Vols ended on a tear.  By the final horn, the gals in Orange (and Blue) had outshot MSU 9-0 to end 63-56.  Shekinna Stricklen was MONEY!!! in the final minute, draining the traditional late-game free throws to put things out of reach and ending as the high scorer for UT with 15 points.  Angie Bjorklund (the Mad Bomber, as the Mrs. and I refer to her) ended with 14, including 3/5 from behind the 3-point line.

Glory Johnson had a tougher shooting night, ending with 1/7 FT shooting and only 3 points.  The Lady Vols won, however, through teamwork.  Nine Lady Vols scored compared to 6 players for MSU.  10 played sufficiently for box score remarks (compared to 8 for MSU).  The Ladies also led with total rebounds (35 to 31), offensive rebounds (19 to 13) and steals (9 to 2) while committing fewer fouls (12 to 19) and fewer turnovers (15 to 18).  Those are all numbers indicative of a Pat Summitt team.  Teamwork-led.  Teamwork-driven.

All for one.  And soon enough, one for 1,000.