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The math just didn't figure Tuesday night.
Tennessee had just one fewer turnover at halftime than Middle Tennessee State. Yet the Lady Vols had a 10-point advantage in points off turnovers and a 24-point lead.
All giveaways aren't created equal. In this case, the same could be said for the two teams, especially with Tennessee intent on ending a two-game losing streak.
The Lady Vols' defense ignited their play like a match to kindling and they raced to an 82-43 women's basketball victory before an announced crowd of 11,861 at Thompson-Boling Arena.
"Tennessee came ready to play,'' MTSU coach Rick Insell said. "They're very athletic, very long. They're more athletic (than us) at every position."
Freshmen Ariel Massengale and Cierra Burdick led No. 8 Tennessee (3-2) with 14 points apiece. Burdick also grabbed 10 rebounds for her first career double-double.
Shekinna Stricklen added 12 points. More importantly, she was a conspicuous trendsetter on defense. She took her defensive assignment of guarding MTSU top scorer Kortni Jones so seriously that she ended up in the front row of seats when lunging for an early deflection.
"We played with high energy and it came from the players,'' UT coach Pat Summitt said. "They challenged each other to come into the game with lots of high energy and it's obvious they did that."
Middle Tennessee State (4-3), meanwhile, had just two double-figure scorers and shot 23.8 percent from the floor (15 for 63). Jones, the former Oak Ridge High standout, scored a game-high 16 points, but she shot 6-for-25 from the floor.
The Lady Vols flaunted their strength in numbers. Every player contributed to a 53-30 rebounding advantage and five reserves combined for a 37-4 edge in bench scoring.
UT's overwhelming production was more than enough to overshadow Meighan Simmons' 0-for-7 shooting from the floor.
As for the turnovers, they crested at 21, just one fewer than MTSU's. No matter, they didn't diminish UT associate head coach Holly Warlick's glowing postgame assessment.
"When your whole team contributes,'' she said, "that's a great sign for us."
Massengale and Burdick contributed like never before. Massengale's points added up to a career high. Her 6-for-9 shooting from the floor was a vast improvement over her 2-for-16 the past two games.
She helped her cause by getting to the rim. She converted three layups during an early four-basket flurry that was fueled entirely by turnovers. In the end, her only non-layup was a 3-pointer on a kick-out pass from Glory Johnson.
"I wasn't settling for the outside jump shot, but attacking the basket and getting easy buckets,'' Massengale said.
Along with her scoring, Massengale had five assists, two steals and zero turnovers.
"I thought Ariel was the most aggressive she's been all year,'' Warlick said.
The inspiration for Burdick's night originated in a post-practice discussion on Monday with Warlick and fellow UT assistant Dean Lockwood about Burdick's dwindling minutes. They encouraged her to think defense first.
The rest followed.
"It was definitely needed, just for confidence,'' Burdick said of her performance. "Lately, I haven't been playing to my fullest potential. I haven't been showing the coaches what I need to show them in practice.
"I'm just thankful that they gave me the opportunity, and I guess you could say I got a little lucky because preparation meant opportunity."
UT's 48-24 halftime lead erased any doubt about the outcome but didn't preclude further drama.
A second-half rebound struggle between Tennessee's Isabelle Harrison and MTSU's Janay Brinkley turned feisty and resulted in three technical fouls. Two were called on the Lady Vols. UT's Vicki Baugh got the extra one for rushing in to play peacemaker.
"It's two kids being aggressive and going for ball,'' Warlick said, "and that happens."