Thursday, February 27, 2014

No. 10 Lady Vols 72, LSU 67

Meighan Simmons highlighted a 31-point performance with a clutch 3-pointer in the final minute, and No. 10 Tennessee held off LSU, 72-67, on Thursday night after the Lady Tigers had erased a 21-point halftime hole.

Simmons hit five 3s in all and also made a couple free throws to help seal the victory for the Lady Vols (23-5, 12-2 Southeastern Conference), who won for the ninth time in 10 games.

Cierra Burdick added a career-high 22 points and 10 rebounds, and Isabelle Harrison 11 points and 11 rebounds for Tennessee, which had to rescue the victory after allowing LSU to tie the score with 3:28 to go.

Jeanne Kenney scored 17 of her 21 points in the second half, including two 3s and the tying free throws during LSU's late 10-0 run. Theresa Plaisance added 20 points and 11 rebounds for the Lady Tigers, who've lost five straight.

Trailing by 42-21 at halftime, LSU managed to make the game far more competitive over the final 20 minutes.

Plaisance, who'd started 2 of 10 form the field, hit a pair of 3s early in the second half, the first capping a 7-0 run to start the period.

Kenney got more involved in the offense as well, and her second 3 of the half pulled LSU to 59-52 with 5:53 left. Kenny pumped both arms at her side as the crowd rose to its feet. Two possessions later, Kenney burried another 3 from the right corner, and DaShawn Harden's steal of Andraya Carter's pass and fast-break layup gave the Lady Tigers eight straight points to make it a one-possession game at 59-57 with 4:35 still left.

Kenney completed the comeback, tying the score on two free throws with 3:28 to go.

Simmons free throws broke the tie a minute later, and her 3 with 57 seconds left made it 68-63.

Tennessee had a 10-point lead just more than 4 minutes into the game when Burdick's 3-point play on a layup as she was fouled made it 12-2. The lead was up to 20 when Simmons's third 3-pointer of the half made it 28-8.

LSU struggled in seemingly all areas during the opening 20 minutes, when the Lady Tigers shot 22.2 percent (6 of 27), turned the ball over 11 times and were outrebounded 26-14.

By halftime Tennessee appeared to be in complete command. Simmons had 19 points, eclipsing her average of 15.7 points per game, and Burdick has 15, nearly double her average of 8.3 points. Tennessee, meanwhile, had shot 50 percent (17 of 34) as a team, never trailed and took its 21-point lead into halftime.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

No. 10 Tennessee 56, Missouri 50

Meighan Simmons scored 20 points and Mercedes Russell grabbed 11
rebounds to help No. 10 Tennessee edge Missouri 56-50 on Sunday.

Simmons' steal and breakaway layup with 11:50 remaining capped a 22-5
run to give the Lady Vols (22-5, 11-3 SEC) a 43-27 lead, but Missouri
clawed back to within 50-47 on Bri Kulas' layup with 1:22 left.

Tennessee's Isabelle Harrison then converted two free throws with 34.7
seconds to go and two more with 11.4 seconds left to end Missouri's
chances. Kulas added a 3-pointer just before the buzzer.

Kulas finished with 22 points and Morgan Eye added 15 for the Tigers
(16-11, 5-9), who only trailed by one point at halftime despite
shooting 2 of 14 from 3-point range before the break.

The schools met for the first time since Missouri upset then-No. 9
Tennessee 80-63 on Feb. 3, 2013. Officials announced attendance at
5,017, the highest this season for Missouri.

Missouri, which ranks third in the country and first in the SEC with
9.5 3-pointers per game, missed its first nine 3s before Kayla
McDowell's long-range attempt connected 9 ½ minutes into the game.

Only four players scored for the Tigers, who finished 7 of 32 from
3-point range.

Eye gave the Tigers their first lead of the game with 3:30 remaining
before the break, hitting her first 3-pointer in six attempts to give
Missouri a 22-21 advantage. She finished short of her 18.4-point
average, good for second in the SEC.

Missouri's lead lasted only 22 seconds, though, as Mercedes Russell
converted a layup and Andraya Carter added another to give Tennessee a
23-22 halftime edge. The Lady Vols then started the second half on a
18-5 run before Eye ended the run with a 3-pointer with 11:19 left.

Tennessee committed 10 turnovers in the first half and six more in the
second after placing special emphasis on holding onto the ball in
practice following a 22-turnover performance against then- No. 18
Kentucky two games ago. That game resulted in a 75-71 loss,
Tennessee's only setback in their last nine games.

Simmons scored the Lady Vols' first eight points of the game in 2:39,
but tallied two more points in the half off a layup 12 minutes later.
She finished 6 of 16 from the field while Bashaara Graves joined her
in double figures with 11 points.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

No. 10 Lady Vols 93, Auburn 63

Auburn couldn't slow down Tennessee's Meighan Simmons until it was too
late to matter.

Simmons scored 26 points and sparked an early 19-0 run Thursday night
to continue her career-long mastery of Auburn in the 10th-ranked Lady
Vols' 93-63 victory. Simmons, a 5-foot-9 guard, averaged 26.5 points
in Tennessee's two victories over Auburn last season.

"(I'm) very happy she's a senior," Auburn coach Terri
Williams-Flournoy said. "I'll look forward to watching her in the

Simmons scored 25 points in the game's first 21:42. She made 10 of her
first 15 shots Thursday before missing her last seven attempts with
the game well out of reach.

After the game, Simmons struggled to pinpoint the reason for her
history of success against Auburn.

"No explanation," Simmons said. "I just try to come out and play hard.
It's not ever about me. It's really about the team. I just want to do
whatever I can to kind of help the team win, just do my role and pay
attention to what I need to do out there on the floor and just be a

Tyrese Tanner scored 15 points for Auburn (14-12, 5-8 SEC). Tra'Cee
Tanner had 14 points and 10 rebounds. Brandy Montgomery scored 12 and
Hasina Muhammad added 10.

Cierra Burdick added 19 points and seven rebounds for the Lady Vols
(21-5, 10-3). Andraya Carter had 12 points. Isabelle Harrison added 10
points and 11 rebounds.

Tennessee has won 23 of its last 25 games in this series. Auburn has
lost 16 straight road games to Tennessee since winning 71-68 in
Knoxville on Jan. 9, 1988.

Auburn has lost two consecutive games since capping a three-game
winning streak last week with a 68-62 road upset of Vanderbilt, which
was ranked 16th at the time. Tennessee bounced back from a 75-71 home
loss to No. 15 Kentucky -- ranked 18th at the time of their Sunday
meeting -- and avoided its first two-game skid of the season.

"We knew they would be angry and upset coming off the loss, and they
would be ready to go against their next opponent, which just so
happened to be us," Williams-Flournoy said.

The Lady Vols were coming off a 22-turnover performance against
Kentucky. The Lady Vols spent the week emphasizing the importance of
taking care of the ball against Auburn, which entered the night with
an SEC-leading 11.2 steals per game in league competition.

"We are a pressing team," Williams-Flournoy said. "We cause turnovers
against some of the best teams in the SEC. That is who we are."

As it turned out, Auburn's turnovers proved more costly.

Tennessee broke open a 13-11 game by going on a 19-0 run during which
Auburn committed five turnovers in a 6 1/2-minute stretch. Tennessee
outscored Auburn 29-10 in points off turnovers.

"We weren't really thinking about what we could do with them," Carter
said. "We just wanted to play Lady Vol basketball, and that ended up
forcing turnovers because when we're all playing hard and all playing
together, that's the result."

Simmons scored Tennessee's last 10 points during the 19-0 spurt. She
also scored seven straight points during the closing minutes of the
first half. She capped that flurry by converting a midcourt steal into
a fast-break layup. By halftime, Simmons had 19 points to help
Tennessee take a 54-33 advantage.

Simmons added a pair of 3-pointers in the first two minutes of the
second half. She scored just one more point the remainder of the game,
but the Lady Vols still led by as many as 38 and ended up with their
largest margin of victory in an SEC game this season.

After Simmons sank a 3-pointer to give Tennessee a 57-35 lead early in
the second half, Williams-Flournoy called a timeout with 18:54
remaining to try finding some way to slow her down the rest of the

"We couldn't let her go off for 40 tonight," Williams-Flournoy said.

That was about the only measure in which Auburn succeeded Thursday.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

No. 18 Kentucky 75, No. 8 Lady Vols 71

Jennifer O'Neill scored 24 points and sparked a comeback as No. 18
Kentucky rallied for a 75-71 victory over No. 8 Tennessee on Sunday,
earning the Wildcats' first win in Knoxville since 1985.

O'Neill had all of Kentucky's points during a 6-0 run that gave the
Wildcats a 72-69 lead in the closing minutes.

Kentucky (19-6, 7-5 SEC) had lost to Tennessee (20-5, 9-3) in its last
16 trips to Knoxville since a 76-72 overtime victory on Jan. 23, 1985,
at Stokely Athletics Center. Kentucky had never beaten Tennessee in
Thompson-Boling Arena, the Lady Vols' home since 1987-88.

Kentucky led 73-71 with 13.4 seconds remaining when Janee Thompson
missed the front end of a one-and-one, giving Tennessee one last
chance. After the Lady Vols called timeout with 5.4 seconds left,
Isabelle Harrisoncommitted Tennessee's 22nd turnover. Kastine Evans
made the steal and sank two game-clinching free throws.

Monday, February 10, 2014

No. 8 Tennessee 81, No. 16 Vanderbilt 53

Vanderbilt's history of road futility against Tennessee will continue for one more season.

One month after beating Tennessee in Nashville, No. 16 Vanderbilt posted its lowest point total of the season Monday and fell 81-53 in a rematch with the eighth-ranked Lady Vols.

Vanderbilt (17-6, 6-4 SEC) has never beaten the Lady Vols (20-4, 9-2) at Knoxville in 29 attempts. The Lady Vols never trailed Monday and put the game out of reach when Vanderbilt missed its first 12 shots of the second half.

"They just dominated us inside," Vanderbilt coach Melanie Balcomb said. "They used their height this time. We really, from the tip, had trouble guarding their size inside. They buried us. They were on the boards, and basically in the paint we got killed. They were very aggressive from the tip at doing that, which they weren't last time."

Tennessee outrebounded Vanderbilt 34-20 and outscored the Commodores 36-18 in the paint. The presence of Tennessee center and Nashville native Isabelle Harrison made the difference.

Harrison, the daughter of former Vanderbilt defensive lineman and assistant football coach Dennis Harrison, had played just 10 minutes before fouling out of Tennessee's 74-63 loss at Vanderbilt on Jan. 12. Harrison, a 6-foot-3 center and Nashville native, stayed out of foul trouble Monday and scored 18 points while shooting 8 of 10 as Tennessee handed Vanderbilt its most one-sided loss in this series since an 89-53 Tennessee victory on Feb. 18, 1999.

"Ever since we lost in Nashville, I've been kind of upset about that in my mind," Harrison said. "I feel like let my team down, my coaches down. And since it was in Nashville, I felt I let my family down. I really wanted to play my best and take care of business."

Meighan Simmons scored 22 points for Tennessee, which clinched its 38th consecutive 20-win season. Andraya Carter added 11 points, seven assists and five steals without committing a single turnover.

Christina Foggie scored 22 points and Marqu'es Webb added 12 points for Vanderbilt. Foggie shot 5 of 6 from 3-point range and scored 15 points in the first half to keep Vanderbilt in the game, but she cooled off after halftime. Jasmine Lister, who scored 21 points in Vanderbilt's victory over Tennessee last month, had just eight points Monday.

Vanderbilt was held without a basket for the first 9 minutes, 25 seconds of the second half.

"It was a little frustrating," Lister said. "I think because we didn't get stops on the defensive end, that made us tight on offense."

Harrison made her first seven shots and scored 14 points in the first half to help Tennessee grab a 42-31 lead at the intermission. Tennessee made its first six shots overall.

The Lady Vols broke a 12-12 tie and took the lead for good with an 8-0 run featuring a pair of Carter steals that led to baskets.

Foggie kept Vanderbilt in the game by shooting 5 of 6 from 3-point range in the first half, but she wasn't getting much help.

Once Foggie cooled off in the second half, the game got out of hand.

"We definitely felt like we were still in the game (at halftime) and that we had a very good chance of coming back," Lister said. "We just didn't execute our game plan in the second half."

Tennessee opened the second half on an 18-2 run by turning up its defensive intensity. Vanderbilt missed its first 12 shots of the second half and trailed 60-33 by the time Lister finally sank a 3-pointer to end the drought with 10:35 remaining.

"When you get beat down in Nashville, you're not happy campers," Tennessee coach Holly Warlick said. "We haven't been happy for a while. Yeah, we had a little chip on our shoulder, and I loved it. I love that we're competing. I thought tonight we played every play like it's our last play."

Thursday, February 06, 2014

No. 8 Lady Vols 77, Ole Miss 65

Meighan Simmons scored 20 points, including three straight 3-pointers in the second half, to lead No. 8 Tennessee to a 77-65 victory over Mississippi on Thursday night.

Tennessee (19-4, 8-2 Southeastern Conference) was 26 of 61 from the floor (42.6 percent) and finished 18 of 21 from the free throw line.

Ole Miss (10-14, 1-9) challenged a few times in the first half, and even led for brief stretches, but the Lady Vols ended the half on an 18-9 run and led 37-28 at the break.

The game remained tight until 10 minutes into the second half, when Simmons broke it open with her consecutive 3s. The Rebels never mounted another serious challenge.

Isabelle Harrison had 18 points and 11 rebounds for Tennessee.

Tia Faleru led Ole Miss with 23 points and 11 rebounds. Gracie Frizzell scored 15 points, including four 3-pointers and Valencia McFarland and Danielle McCray had 10 points apiece.

Sunday, February 02, 2014

Lady Vols 64, Alabama 54

No. 10 Tennessee rallied from down by as many as 15 points to beat Alabama for the 40th consecutive time, 64-54, on Sunday at Foster Auditorium.

Junior Cierra Burdick keyed the comeback and finished with a career-high 20 points. She also grabbed 11 rebounds for her third double-double of the season. Isabelle Harrsion had 11 points and 11 rebounds for her 10th double-double of the season. Meighan Simmons scored all 11 of her points in the second half.

Tennessee won its fourth game in a row to move to 18-4 overall and 7-2 in the SEC. Alabama fell to 10-12 and 3-6 in the league.

The Lady Vols outscored the Crimson Tide, 46-28, in the second half. Tennessee made 6-of-12 3-pointers in the second half to key the comeback as UT posted a 10-point win for a 25-point turnaround.

The Crimson Tide was led by Daisha Simmons, who had 18.

Alabama's last win over Tennessee came on March 3, 1984 in the SEC Tournament.

After trailing by 15 with five minutes left in the first half, Tennessee reeled off 11 consecutive points bridging the halves to cut the deficit to four at 26-22.

Meighan Simmons' first made basket of the game -- a 3-pointer -- brought Tennessee within two at 32-30 with 12:37 left in the game.

Burdick tied the game at 32 on a jumper with 11 minutes on the clock. The Lady Vols tied the game 35, 37 and 39

Tennessee finally regained the lead on three consecutive 3-pointers by Burdick, Meighan Simmons and Andraya Carter. The treys gave the Lady Vols a 48-39 lead with 6:12 left in the game. It was the first UT lead since 4-2.

Tennessee used a 19-2 run to break open the game with five minutes left. Tennessee took a 55-41 lead on a Carter layup.

Alabama led 26-18 at halftime after holding a 26-11 advantage with 5:13 left in the half. Tennessee scored the final seven points of the period as Burdick accounted for five of the seven points.

The Lady Vols made just four of their first 17 shots in the game and finished shooting 28 percent in the first half. Meighan Simmons was relegated to the bench after picking up two fouls in the game's first three minutes. She sat for the final 17 minutes.

Daisha Simmons scored 11 points in the first half including the final four for the Crimson Tide, putting Alabama up by 15.

The Lady Vols return to action on Thursday at Ole Miss. The game tips at 9 p.m., on CSS and can be heard on the Lady Vol Network.