Originally created 01/18/01

Tennessee prepares for No. 4 Georgia



KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Emotions would have been high anyway for the No. 2 Tennessee Lady Vols' rematch with fourth-ranked Georgia.

Now Tennessee hopes to channel its sadness from losing All-America senior Tamika Catchings three days ago to a knee injury toward avenging last year's 78-51 defeat in Athens, the Lady Vols' worst ever to a Southeastern Conference foe.

"The emotion we have for Tamika, this should carry us through the season," senior Semeka Randall said. "There's no time to sit and be in shock because if we do, we'll get our butts kicked."

And playing the Lady Bulldogs on Thursday night may be the best medicine for Tennessee.

"You might look at it and say you'd rather be playing someone else, but I think the fact that we are playing Georgia, our basketball team is very focused," Tennessee coach Pat Summitt said.

Georgia (15-2, 3-0) has lost only to Connecticut and Notre Dame and uses a fast-paced coast-to-coast style to challenge the Lady Vols. Georgia was the only SEC team to beat Tennessee (16-1, 4-0) in Knoxville during the 1990s - in 1991 and 1996.

"The entire city, we've all been mourning. The people here now will rally around this team. They're as anxious to see them play as they are to see a Tennessee-Georgia matchup," Summitt said.

The Lady Vols will certainly miss Catchings, the team's leading scorer and rebounder who tore her right ACL during a game Monday. She led Tennessee in last year's Georgia game with 13 points and had four steals.

"It's a huge loss for Tennessee," Georgia coach Andy Landers said. "(Catchings) has been a great representative of SEC women's basketball."

Catchings' injury will mean a change in Tennessee's starting lineup but not in the way the Lady Vols play, Summitt said.

"I've asked this team to do it by committee, individually accept responsibility and collectively go and try to make up for some numbers," Summitt said. "On this basketball team, I still think we have enough talent that we can come down the floor and go to certain people in certain situations."

Randall will start in Catchings' forward position on the perimeter, while senior Kristen Clement will be the new starter at guard.

Georgia has mixed up its lineup after two injuries this season. Forward Deanna Nolan is out with a fractured finger, and guard Camille Murphy tore her ACL last week. Since the injuries, the Lady Bulldogs beat No. 9 LSU on Sunday.

"Both teams have been hit. It will probably level the playing field," Landers said. "(But) we're the one minus two players."

Georgia does have seniors Kelly and Coco Miller, who lead their team in scoring.

"You're looking at two players that bring it at you constantly. You never can relax," Summitt said. "The Miller twins could dribble the ball to Knoxville and still not be at all fatigued. I think they could run forever."