Meme Jackson scores 33, No. 9 Vols top No. 12 Texas 88-82
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Even as Meme Jackson went ice cold from the field in recent games, Tennessee coach Holly Warlick had no hesitation keeping her on the floor.
“Her defense has just been phenomenal,” Warlick said.
So it was a nice bonus for the ninth-ranked Lady Vols when Jackson found a groove on the offensive end Sunday, too.
Jackson scored a career-best 33 points, Evina Westbrook had 23 and Tennessee beat No. 12 Texas 88-82.
“I was more patient today, and my teammates were giving me great looks,” Jackson said.
Jackson made two free throws with 21.6 seconds left to give Tennessee (8-0) a five-point lead. She entered Sunday averaging 10 points per game.
“She’s in the gym constantly so for her to get 33, I’m not surprised,” Warlick said.
Audrey Warren had a season-best 21 points for Texas (7-2), and Danni Williams scored all 14 of her points in the second half.
Tennessee got a five-point swing when the Longhorns’ Jada Underwood missed an open layup and Jackson hit a 3-pointer for a six-point lead with 4:24 remaining.
The Lady Vols trailed by 11 in the first quarter but strung together an 11-0 run in the second quarter and led 40-35 at halftime.
Texas shot miserably in the second quarter, missing 14 of 17.
The Longhorns have lost two straight to top-10 teams, but coach Karen Aston was relatively pleased Sunday, considering the 18-point defeat against Mississippi State on Dec. 2 in Austin.
“We didn’t really have an answer for those two guards today,” Aston said. “We have to start with the defensive end. I don’t have to start with effort. I had to start with effort last Monday. I didn’t think we had any fight in us last Sunday.”
Tennessee: The Vols entered Sunday ranked 263rd in the country by making 63.6 percent of their free throws. They were much better against Texas, hitting 24 of 32 after making 25 of 30 in a win over Stetson.
“We’re a good free-throw shooting team,” Warlick said. “But we just have to get our mind right. We’ve gotten our mind right the last two games. They’ve been putting in extra shots.”
Texas: Joyner Holmes made her first appearance of the season after recovering from right ankle surgery in October. That’s potentially important for the Longhorns, since the 6-foot-3 Holmes is their best rebounder, a capable scorer inside, and because starting guard Lashann Higgs is out for the season with a torn left ACL. Higgs was the team’s leading scorer through the three-plus games she played before the injury. Holmes played just 11 minutes Sunday, contributing two points and three rebounds.
Aston said she needs Holmes ready for when Big 12 competition begins on Jan. 2.
“This game today wasn’t about anything for her but trying to get her moving in the right direction so our team is better prepared when we start conference,” Aston said.
Tennessee will maintain its position in the top 10 with the possibility of moving up. Texas, having competed well until the end, might not lose much ground.
Tennessee faces Stanford on Dec. 18 in Knoxville. The Vols beat the Cardinal 83-71 last season in Palo Alto, California.
Texas faces Stetson on Dec. 16 in Austin.