Lady Vols cruise past South Carolina in SEC tourney

DULUTH, Ga. -- Candace Parker played only 21 minutes and took just four shots, yet No. 2 Tennessee showed why it is the team to beat in the SEC tournament.

Displaying impressive scoring balance, the Lady Vols began their pursuit of a sixth sweep of the Southeastern Conference's regular-season and tournament titles by beating South Carolina 81-63 in a quarterfinal game on Friday.

Sidney Spencer scored 22 points and Alexis Hornbuckle added 17 for Tennessee, which won its 34th consecutive matchup against the Gamecocks since 1980. Parker added 10 points and 11 rebounds while sitting out much of the second half. Alex Fuller and Nicky Anosike each had eight points.

"If we can get a little more balance, people can't key on one player, and obviously Candace has been a target all year for opposing defenses," said Tennessee coach Pat Summitt.

Parker, who averaged 20.6 points and 9.8 rebounds in the regular season, said she didn't mind not being the top scorer in the Lady Vols' tournament opener.

"I think we did a great job of moving the ball," Parker said. "Like I've said all year, pick your poison."

Summitt said the scoring balance was an encouraging sign in Tennessee's effort toward its 13th SEC tournament title -- and its seventh NCAA championship.

"That is a good thing because we know people are going to key on Candace," Summitt said.

South Carolina coach Susan Walvius said her team couldn't overlook Parker even with other Tennessee players doing most of the scoring.

"We know when Tennessee needed a basket they're going to go to Parker," Walvius said. "They were very balanced. That's what makes them hard to guard."

Tennessee advances to a semifinal Saturday against LSU (No. 10 ESPN/USA Today; No. 11 AP), which defeated Mississippi 52-46.

Tennessee (28-2) finished 14-0 in the league and won its 14th regular-season title. It has won both the regular-season and tournament championships five times, most recently in 2000.

The only other time the Lady Vols won both titles without a loss in the regular season was 1998, when they won the last of Summitt's six national championships.

Lakesha Tolliver led South Carolina (17-14) with 13 points. Melanie Johnson added 11, all in the first half.

South Carolina trailed by only six points late in the first half when it lost guard Stacy Booker to a twisted knee. Booker didn't play in the second half, but Walvius said she didn't think the injury was serious enough to prevent the senior from playing if the Gamecocks receive a bid to the NCAA tournament.

Parker was mostly quiet before she was involved in a brief skirmish with Tolliver about 6 minutes into the second half. The two were entangled following a foul by Parker and quickly separated by the officials.

On the next trip down the floor, Parker blocked a shot by Tolliver and then scored over her, drawing a foul. After making the basket, Parker glared at Tolliver and then sank the free throw.

Parker soon was back on the bench.

Tennessee needed only one pass and 4 seconds to take a 3-0 lead on Spencer's basket and free throw. Five Lady Vols' players scored in the first five minutes.

South Carolina cut down on their season-high 34 turnovers in the regular-season loss to the Vols. The Gamecocks committed only 11 turnovers in the first half, but a buzzer-beating shot by Spencer gave the Lady Vols a 40-28 halftime lead.

Parker had five points at the break.

Tennessee stretched its lead to 56-33 in the first 5 minutes of the second half.