Jan. 19, 2012
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - In a physical game that saw both teams playing without key players due to injury, #9 Tennessee battled to a 65-56 victory over LSU on Thursday night before 13,107 at Thompson-Boling Arena. The Lady Vols moved to 14-4 overall and 5-1 in the SEC. The Lady Tigers, coached by former UT star Nikki Caldwell, fell to 13-5 and 4-2 in the league.
Meighan Simmons led Tennessee with 19 points and Cierra Burdick netted a career-high tying 15, for her highest scoring game in more than a month. An ailing Glory Johnson played just 24 minutes and scored 10 points. Shekinna Stricklen missed the first game of her career with a right knee sprain.
Vicki Baugh pulled down a season-high 14 rebounds as the Lady Vols outrebounded LSU, 45-39.
Courtney Jones led LSU with 16 points and Adrienne Webb added 12. LSU's leading scorer LaSondra Barrett (12.5 ppg) was held to her second-lowest scoring game of the season with six before fouling out.
In a very physical and tight game, neither team led by double-figures the entire game and neither team had a lead by more than two possessions for the first 30:30. The game was tied on 11 occasions before the Lady Vols ended the game on a 16-7 run over the final 6:22 to secure the win.
Tennessee used a 10-0 run to take a 47-39 lead with 9:30 left in the second half. Back-to-back fastbreak lay-ups by Simmons and Johnson followed by a Cierra Burdick jumper put the Lady Vols ahead 45-39 with 10:34 left in the second half.
But LSU retaliated with its own 10-2 run to tie the game at 49 all with 6:40 left in regulation. Burdick ended that spurt with a jump shot to regain a Lady Vols lead, 51-49 with 6:20 remaining. The lead moved to 56-51 thanks to late successful free-throw shooting. Tennessee had a stretch of making 7-of-8 foul shots late in the game after starting 6-of-15 from the charity stripe.
Fastbreak lay-ups by Johnson and Ariel Massengale 19 seconds apart put Tennessee up 60-53 with 2:40 left in the game. Tennessee finished the game off with free throws in the final minutes to secure UT's 28th straight home SEC win.
LSU and Tennessee stood tied 26 all at intermission with solid defense being played by both teams. The Lady Vols were limited to 9-of-28 (32.1 percent) from the floor while the Lady Tigers shot 11-of-32 (34.4). Simmons led all scorers with eight points in the first half.
Just 2.9 seconds before halftime, LSU guard Destini Hughes suffered a leg injury was the taken off the court in a wheelchair and did not return. The Lady Tigers were also without point guard Jeanne Kenney, who suffered a concussion in the first minutes of the game.
Massengale gave the Lady Vols their first lead of the game since a Simmons 3-pointer opened the scoring, as the freshman's lay-up put UT up 14-13 with 10:16 left in the first half. LSU quickly responded with a Barrett trey to regain the lead. That lead was short lived as Tennessee used a 13-5 run to take a 24-18 lead with 5:15 left in the first half.
LSU came into the game with the nation's second-best field goal percentage defense (30.3) and third in scoring defense (47.5). The Lady Tigers limited Tennessee to 37.5 from the floor. The Lady Vols defense was even more stiff in holding LSU to 34.4 from the floor.
Stricklen missed the first game of her career with a sprained right knee. In sitting out, Stricklen's 121-game consecutive games started streak came to an end. The streak was the longest in the country. Taber Spani also missed her eighth straight game with a bruised left knee.
The Lady Vols step out of conference for the final time this season as Tennessee travels to No. 2 Notre Dame for a Monday match-up on ESPN2. The game can be heard on the Lady Vol Network.