KNOXVILLE — Pat Summitt isn’t looking ahead.
She hasn’t done it for her last 998 victories. Why start now?
“I’ve never focused on numbers,” the Lady Vols basketball coach said Wednesday. “I’ve focused on trying to get teams ready every year.”
Her approach has been the same in preparing the 13th-ranked Lady Vols for tonight’s Southeastern Conference game against Ole Miss (13-7, 2-3) at 7 in Thompson-Boling Arena.
But with a win tonight, Summitt will be just one shy of her 1,000th all-time victory. The next game is Monday at Oklahoma.
“It’s a pretty amazing number, even for me,” Summitt said. “I’m like, ‘Wow. Have I really been doing this for 35 years? Where did the time go?’”
To get her to No. 999, the Lady Vols (15-4, 4-2) must recover from an ugly 82-68 loss at then-sixth-ranked Auburn last Sunday. The Tigers scored 29 points off turnovers.
“I was telling them I just hope we get (1,000 wins) this year,” Summitt quipped.
After UT’s first loss to Auburn in 12 years, Summitt challenged her young team and intensified practice. She said she just regrets not doing it sooner.
“I think that I was trying to be patient and recognizing the fact that we are so young and not break anybody’s spirit,” she said. “But that philosophy, I just threw that out the window. That didn’t work.”
Ole Miss brings two of the top scoring threats in the conference. Shawn Goff, a 6-foot-3 forward, averages 13.7 points per game. Junior guard Bianca Thomas averages 13.6.
UT redshirt freshman Kelley Cain should be available tonight. The 6-foot-6 center returned to action against Auburn after sitting out the last two games with a knee injury. She had six rebounds, five rebounds and three blocks in 16 minutes Sunday.
Sophomore Vicki Baugh will be a game-time decision. The 6-4 forward lasted only 20 seconds against Auburn before pulling herself from the game. Baugh suffered a sprained left knee on Jan. 1 in preparation for UT’s game against Rutgers.
Ole Miss associate head coach Peggie Gillom-Granderson averaged 21.2 points for her five games against the Lady Vols as a player for the Rebels from 1976 to ’80. Granderson set the Thompson-Boling Arena record for most points scored by an opponent with 45 on Feb. 4, 1978.