No. 3 Lady Vols trounce Tennessee State 94-43
Tennessee hasn’t started a season this well since its last
Bashaara Graves scored 17 points to lead five Tennessee players
in double figures and the third-ranked Lady Vols remained unbeaten
with a 94-43 victory over Tennessee State on Tuesday night.
The Lady Vols (10-0) have won each of their games by at least
nine points. Tennessee also started 10-0 in 2007-08 before losing
73-69 in overtime to Stanford, which happens to be the Lady Vols’
”We knew we were 9-0, and we knew we wanted to take another
step to get to the national championship level,” Tennessee guard
Meighan Simmons said.
Tennessee will put its perfect record to the test Saturday when
it heads west to face the sixth-ranked Cardinal. The Lady Vols’
only previous game against a Top 25 foe was an 81-65 victory Nov.
11 at No. 14 North Carolina, which was ranked 12th at the time.
They’ve outscored their 10 opponents by an average of 24.8
”For the most part, we’ve played hard,” Tennessee coach Holly
Warlick said. ”The opponent shouldn’t matter. You’re working on
yourself and how you get better, and get better as a team.”
Tennessee benefited Tuesday from a balanced attack.
Graves made all six of her shots from the floor and was 5 of 6
from the free-throw line. Simmons added 13 points. Cierra Burdick,
Isabelle Harrison and Mercedes Russell had 12 points apiece. Rachel
Allen also scored 12 points to lead Tennessee State (3-8).
All nine of Tennessee’s healthy players scored at least six
points. A facial injury prevented Jasmine Jones from playing
against Tennessee State, though Warlick expects the sophomore
forward back for the Stanford game.
”We definitely wanted to come out and play Lady Vol
basketball,” Burdick said. ”That’s something we’ve been
struggling with in past games, playing down to our competition. We
can’t do that. We’ve got to come out and play to our potential
every single night. That’s the sign of a great team.”
Tennessee sprinted to a 14-1 lead in the first four minutes and
never looked back. The Lady Tigers missed 23 of their first 26
shots and trailed 42-9 with 6 1/2 minutes left in the first
Tennessee State shot just 1 of 22 from 3-point range and was 14
of 74 overall.
The Lady Vols seemingly could do whatever they wanted Tuesday.
At one point, Simmons tossed an inbounds pass off the backside of a
Tennessee State player and retrieved the ball for an easy
”I think we were just having fun,” Burdick said. ”Lately
we’ve been so uptight, worrying about not doing the wrong things.
It takes away from our play and takes away from what we can do as
players. We just tried to go out, have fun, enjoy the game. We keep
being reminded this is a gift. It’s a gift to lace up these
sneakers. It’s a gift to put on this jersey. We don’t take that for
Tennessee State had won its last two games by double digits,
over North Florida and NAIA program Martin Methodist, but the Lady
Tigers were facing an entirely different level of competition
A look at the rosters underscored the challenge facing Tennessee
Tennessee State didn’t have a single starter taller than 6 feet.
Six of Tennessee’s 10 players are 6-2 or taller. The Lady Vols were
coming off a 103-64 victory over Troy in which they had pulled down
74 rebounds, the second-highest total in school history. Tennessee
entered the night with a plus-15 rebound margin, while Tennessee
State was at minus-6.7.
The Lady Vols outrebounded Tennessee State 58-35 and outscored
the Lady Tigers 54-24 in the paint. Tennessee’s block total (11)
nearly matched Tennessee State’s basket total (11). Russell, the
Lady Vols’ 6-foot-6 freshman center, had six blocks.
”Of course, their size, I thought that was the big difference
in the game,” Tennessee State coach Larry Joe Inman said. ”I
thought like it affected what we did. I thought their transition
game hurt us. I thought they exploited a lot of our
In the teams’ two previous games, the Lady Vols also breezed to
easy victories: 114-63 in 1985-86 and 104-51 in 1987-88.