No. 12/13 Lady Vols Rout Rebels 97-68

Feb. 10, 2013

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Feb. 10, 2013

KNOXVILLE - Led by junior Meighan Simmons who finished with 24 points, the Tennessee women's basketball team jumped out to an early lead and never looked back finishing with a 97-68 victory over Ole Miss (8-15, 1-9 SEC) in front of a crowd of 11,727 at Thompson-Boling Arena Sunday.

It was the ninth wire-to-wire win of the season for the Lady Vols (19-5, 10-1) and their fourth in conference play.

"I think this team plays so much together," said Head Coach Holly Warlick. "They understand the importance of that. I think we distribute the basketball. We hold each other accountable. They understand the value of a team effort. That is the only way I can explain it. We practice hard there have been very little times that we have had a bad practice. So I think they understand the importance of preparation and then for the most part they play together during the game."

Five Tennessee players tallied double-digit scoring for the sixth time this season en route to a 59.4 shooting percentage, the highest of the season. The Lady Vols shot 66.7 percent from the field in the second half putting up 57 points in the frame on the scoreboard, the most in any half this season and the most since a 58-point first half against Alabama on Jan. 6, 2011, a game UT won 110-45.

With her team-leading 24 points, Simmons moved into 26th place on the all-time scoring list finishing the day with 1,319 points passing Tonya Edwards (1,309). It was the eighth time this season that Simmons registered over 20 points and the 18th time in her career.

By Ryan Howard Tennessee used good ball movement and offensive efficiency to overcome SEC-foe Ole Miss. The effort to make the extra pass paid off in the end as the Lady Vols shot just under 60 percent.

UT also dished out 23 assists compared to Ole Miss's nine while eight out of nine Lady Vols, who played finished the game with at least one, while five recorded multiple assists.

Ariel Massengale led the offense with eight assists, and Kamiko Williams contributed five. Massengale, who led the team in assists entering the game, now has tallied 110 on the year.

"The first thing I look for is to get my teammates involved," Massengale said. "That's just the kind of mindset a point guard has to have."

"Having a year under my belt and just knowing what to expect at this level definitely helps, but I think the coaching staff has done a good job of giving me some more freedom to run the offense."

Just over five minute to go in the first half, Bashaara Graves, who hit a game-winning shot Thursday against LSU, banked a layup and hit her free throw shot after getting fouled to make the score 31-23 and respond to an 11-2 Ole Miss run.

"I just want to keep contributing like I have been," Graves said. "Last game, the team went to me for the last shot, and I can't look at that and be surprised by it. I just have to be ready when my time comes."

The next possession, Meighan Simmons stole the ball and broke down the court and made the wide-open layup. Then, Simmons swished a 3-pointer off a pass from Massengale after an Ole Miss jumper to put UT up, 36-25.

Bashaara Graves notched her ninth double-double of the season with 19 points and 11 boards, tying Tamika Catchings for fourth-most double-doubles by a Lady Vol freshman. While fellow freshman Nia Moore notched 12 points, a career-high, in just 10 minutes of play.

Aiding Simmons was sophomore Ariel Massengale who dished out eight assists one off of her season-high (9) while Kamiko Williams added five helpers, one off of her career-high (6).

The Lady Vols began the game off on a 16-2 run and cruised the rest of the way holding Ole Miss to just one field goal in the first seven and a half minutes of play.

The Rebels briefly got back into the game closing the gap to 28-23 with six minutes left in the first half. However, the Lady Vols finished the half on a 12-4 run to earn a 13-point, 40-27 halftime lead, marking the 12th time that Tennessee tallied at least 40 points at the half this season.

In the second half, the Lady Vols grabbed a 20-point lead on a 3-pointer by Taber Spani, extending a 14-4 run with just under 13 minutes remaining in the game.

The Lady Vols extended their lead to 22-points as Simmons took a no-look pass from Cierra Burdick and drained her second three of the game with 8:21 left to play en route to the 29-point victory.

Tennessee will return to action next Sunday, February 17 when they take on Vanderbilt at Thompson-Boling Arena at 5 p.m. in a game that will be televised live on ESPN2.





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