2nd Half Surge Lifts #12 UT Past #10 UGA

Jan. 6, 2013

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Tennessee scored the first nine points of the second half and led the remainder of the way as the No. 12/13 Lady Vols knocked off No. 10/11 Georgia, 79-66 before 12,319 at Thompson-Boling Arena.

A pair of freshman keyed the Tennessee (11-3, 2-0 SEC) win as Bashaara Graves scored a career-high 23, making 8-of-11 from the floor. Jasmine Jones also had a career-high with 12 points as she saw significant minutes with Isabelle Harrison in foul trouble.

Graves' point total was the most by a Lady Vols' freshman since Meighan Simmons had 23 vs. Stanford on Dec. 19, 2010. Graves has scored in double-figures in 12 of her 14 games as a freshman.

As a junior on Sunday, Simmons scored 11 of her 16 in the second half and finished 4-of-5 from 3-point range. Taber Spani had 11 and grabbed seven rebounds.

Georgia suffered just its second loss of the season as the Lady Bulldogs fell to 13-2 and 1-1 in the league. Jasmine James led UGA with 18. Khaalidah Miller added 14.

Tennessee moved to 6-2 against ranked teams this season. It was also the Lady Vols first win over a Top 10 team this season and first since thrashing No. 7 Kentucky last February.

Tennessee opened the second half with nine consecutive points to take control of the game with a lead 49-42 after a fastbreak layup by Spani four minutes into the half. The Lady Vols led the remainder of the way.

Jasmine Jones and Cierra Burdick are both listed as 6-2 forwards. But with Burdick temporarily out, Jones - a freshman - had some big shoes to fill in the rotation.

The Madison, Ala., native didn't disappoint coming off the bench to help Tennessee pull away in the second half from SEC-rival Georgia.

Jones, who averaged just less than 14 minutes going into the game, played 23 minutes and came up with key plays in big moments for the Lady Vols. She also showed her versatility by guarding both the top of the key in a 2-3 zone and the wing down low in a 3-2 zone.

Taber Spani, who has played with several talented players throughout her career as a Lady Vol, had lofty praise for the underclassmen's performance.

"She reminds people of mini-Glory (Johnson)," Spani said. "With her athleticism and leaping ability, she just played with confidence today. She bothered their guards out front and went to the boards, and her drives were fantastic."

Halfway through the first half, Jones made a contested layup surrounded by three Georgia defenders to get the Lady Vols within two. On the next defensive possession, she was fouled in the paint and made both her free throws to tie the game at 27-27.

"I feel a lot better after playing a game like that," Jones said. "It's going to help build my confidence, and I just want to keep working to help us win the next game."

Jones's final statement of the night came with four minutes left in the game. Georgia brought a trap to steal the ball from her at center court. Jones couldn't get the ball to a teammate, so she muscled her way through the two Georgia defenders and laid the ball in.

"I'm so happy," Bashaara Graves said. "I've been waiting (for her) to do this for so long. That's my roommate, and I know how good she is and what she can do. Now, I just expect a lot for the rest of the games."

- - Ryan Howard

Georgia missed its first eight shots of the second half as Tennessee buckled up on defense and crashed the glass. The Lady Vols hauled down 10 of the first 12 rebounds in the second half.

Overall, UT outrebounded UGA, 46-29 with a 28-9 second-half margin.

The Lady Bulldogs cut the deficit to two, 52-50, on a jumper by Jasmine Jones with 12:24 left in the half. But, Tennessee responded with the next five points punctuated by a Simmons 3-pinter with 11:26 left. The run expanded to 14-3 on back-to-back layups by Graves with nine minutes left. That gave the Lady Vols a lead of 13 points, 66-53 with 8:53 left.

The lead ballooned to 19 with three minutes left on Simmons' fourth 3-pointer of the game, making it 79-60.

Tennessee had three 9-0 runs in the second half.

The Lady Vols outscored Georgia, 39-24 in the second half and held the Lady Bulldogs to just 29 percent from the floor including 25 percent from 3-point range.

A highly-entertaining first half saw both teams shoot well and play up tempo as Georgia led 42-40 at intermission.

After trailing for most of the first half, Tennessee regained a lead for the first time since 2:11 into the game with 1:01 left in the first half on a pair of free throws by Spani, at 40-39. But, Georgia's Miller answered with a 3-pointer seconds later for the two-point Lady Bulldogs lead at halftime.

Graves led all scorers with 12 in the first half.

After being down by as many as six on three occasions, the Lady Vols tied the game at 27 on a pair of free throws from Jones with 8:21 left in the first half. Georgia answered with a 6-0 run to regain a 33-27 edge with six minutes left.

Both teams came out blazing hot as they combined to make eight of the first nine shots from the floor with Tennessee making its first four attempts to take a 9-7 lead.

The Lady Vols now lead the all-time series, 45-15 with a 19-4 mark in Knoxville. Tennessee has won the last five meetings and 13 of the last 14 overall.

The Lady Vols return to action on Thursday as Missouri makes its first appearance at Thompson-Boling Arena. The new members of the SEC and UT will tip at 8 p.m., in a game that airs on SportsSouth/ESPN3 and can be heard on the Lady Vol Network.





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