The second-ranked Tennessee women's basketball team is tough enough to beat without giving the Volunteers a head start.
South Carolina found that out Friday night after the Volunteers used a big first-half run to take control on the way to a 92-76 victory over the Gamecocks at Columbia, S.C.
Tennessee, 13-2 overall and 3-0 in the Southeastern Conference, opened with a 9-2 run, then used an 18-0 run midway through the half to open a 34-10 lead on the way to a 49-31 halftime advantage.
"I was very disappointed in the first 10 minutes of the game," South Carolina Coach Susan Walvius said. "It was very difficult to dig out of that hole we put ourselves in.
"You can't do that against the second-ranked team in the country."
Michelle Snow, who led Tennessee with 24 points, had five points during the first-half run, then got 17 in the second half to keep South Carolina at bay.
"We've got a great size advantage, and Michelle is working to get the ball," Tennessee Coach Pat Summitt said. "We did a better job in the second half of getting in front of the defender."
South Carolina (10-5, 0-2) used a 12-2 run midway through the second half, closing within 61-52 after two free throws by Jocelyn Penn with 10:54 to play.
But Tennessee kept feeding the ball to Snow.
"She's got a little step-away turnaround jump shot, and that's very hard to defend," Walvius said. "I really thought our zone would be more effective against that."