Archive for Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Summitt reaches top in wins

Vols pound Purdue; coach passes Smith

March 23, 2005

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— Pat Summitt stands alone at the top of NCAA basketball.

The Tennessee coach broke Dean Smith's career victory record Tuesday night, getting No. 880 in the Vols' 75-54 victory over Purdue in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

Summitt tied Smith at 879 with an easy victory over Western Carolina in the first round Sunday night and passed the former North Carolina men's coach with another convincing victory. Summitt improved to 880-171, while Smith was 879-254 when he retired in 1997 after 36 years with the Tar Heels.

"Obviously, to be in the company with coach Smith, to think about all the people that were a part of these wins, I never thought I'd live this long," Summitt said.

After the game, NCAA officials presented Summitt with the game ball and a plaque. And the university announced the court at Thompson-Boling Arena would be named "The Summitt."

The 52-year-old Summitt waved to the crowd and hugged family members, who came down to the court to celebrate with her. The team posed for a picture with the players holding up newspaper pages with a huge 880 in orange on the front.

"That's what it's all about," Summitt said. "We talk about the wins and the trophies, but it's all about the people. The players have influenced me more than I have influenced them."

Top-seeded Tennessee (28-4), seeking its seventh national title under Summitt, advanced to face fourth-seeded Texas Tech in the semifinals of the Philadelphia Regional on Sunday.

"First and foremost, we're going to the Sweet 16," Summitt said.

Ninth-seeded Purdue (17-13) tried its best to stall Summitt's chase, hanging tough with the Vols in the first half.

But Tennessee's defense was too much for Purdue in the second half. The Boilermakers didn't have a field goal in the first 6:35 of the second half, while the Vols pushed their lead to 20 with a 19-6 run.

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