March 8, 2013
DULUTH, Ga. -- Top-seeded Tennessee won its 10th consecutive SEC Tournament game on Friday afternoon as the Lady Vols knocked off No. 9 seed Florida, 82-73 at the Arena at Gwinnett Center.
Tennessee will face No. 4 seed Texas A&M on Saturday at 4 p.m., on ESPNU and the Lady Vol Network. The Aggies topped South Carolina, 61-52, to advance to the semifinal round. The Lady Vols beat the Aggies 82-72 in their only meeting this season.
Six Tennessee players scored in double-figures led by SEC Co-Player of the Year Meighan Simmons, who had 20. Cierra Burdick tallied 14 and grabbed a game-best eight rebounds. Taber Spani scored 13 and Kamiko Williams had 12. Bashaara Graves and Ariel Massengale each notched 10 points.
Tennessee moves to 24-6 overall while Florida stands at 18-14. Sydney Moss led the Gators with 22 points.
Bonds had 18 points and Carlie Needles scored 12 on four 3-pointers for Florida.
The Lady Vols held off a late charge by the Gators as UT led by as many as 13 points. Florida cut the deficit to as small as six in the final minutes, but Tennessee made 7-of-9 free throws in the final 43 seconds to advance to their 20th consecutive SEC Semifinal.
Overall, Tennessee has reached the SEC Semifinals 30 times in 34 years and won the tournament title 16 times.
The Lady Vols shot 48 percent for the game and 82 percent from the line.
Moss had a steal and basket with 49 seconds remaining to cut Tennessee's lead to 75-69 -- the Lady Vols' smallest lead of the half.
Massengale and Simmons each made two free throws in the final 43 seconds. Taber Spani missed a one-and-one free throw with 30 seconds remaining, but Jaterra Bonds missed a layup for Florida.
Spani made three free throws in the final 16 seconds.
The Lady Vols took command from tipoff, taking a 10-2 lead to open the game and never looked back. While Florida was able to maintain pace after that, Tennessee stayed in front and took a 47-36 lead into halftime.
Florida' game-opening basket, which put the Gators ahead 2-0, was their only lead of the game.
Simmons had 11 points and Williams had 10 to lead the Lady Vols through the opening 20 minutes.
The Lady Vols received the trophy for being SEC regular season champions before the game. It was the team's 17th season title in program history and first for Warlick. In additional honors, assistant coach Kyra Elzy was also recognized as an SEC Legend.