ROSEMONT, Ill. — Tennessee associate head coach Holly Warlick is a former point guard and she deserved an assist for Meighan Simmons' performance against UT Martin.
The junior scored 20 points off the bench in a 72-49 victory in the first round of the NCAA women's basketball tournament. She helped No. 2 seed Tennessee advance to today's game against No. 7 DePaul (TV: ESPN2, 9:30 p.m.)
"Before I was put in, Holly grabbed me and said, 'I want you to play inspired defense, your offense will come to you,' '' Simmons said.
Simmons said that such advice helps her overall play, particularly coming from Warlick.
"I know she expects a lot from me, as well as the other coaches, but I think she's the main one who pushes the issue of me playing really good defense," Simmons said.
One good scoring game often has led to another for Simmons. She also had 20 points against Vanderbilt in early February. She followed that up with a season-high 25 points against Kentucky. Simmons had seven consecutive games scoring in double figures in late December and early January. On two other occasions, she had three consecutive games in double figures.
No Seconds: UT's Shekinna Stricklen didn't continue her torrid second-half scoring against the UT Martin. But she was more pleased with her defense.
"My offense wasn't working, but I feel like I really did good on my defense," said Stricklen, who didn't score in the second half and finished with just seven points. "We had other players come in and step up (offensively).
"That's something I'm not worried about."
In three SEC tournament games, Stricklen had 48 of her 50 points in the second half.
More Defense: In the last four games, opponents have made only 34.9 percent of their field-goal attempts against the Lady Vols.
UT Martin made just 28.8 percent of its field-goal tries Saturday.
Freshman Cierra Burdick had one of her worst offensive games against UT Martin, shooting 0 for 3 from the floor. Yet she thought her defensive effort in guarding the Skyhawks' smaller, quicker guards was her best of the season.
"I just didn't want to be a total liability to my team,'' Burdick said.
Conflicted Feelings: DePaul coach Doug Bruno was asked about Tennessee coach Pat Summitt at Sunday's press conference and sounded as if he hasn't come to grips with her being diagnosed with early onset dementia, Alzheimer's type.
"Ever since Coach Summitt's diagnosis, I don't know if I'm in denial," he said. "I kind of refuse to accept it. This is just a great coach to me. She has been in the game forever.
"And I just believe she will be in the game forever."
Home Feeling: Although Allstate Arena isn't DePaul's home arena, the Blue Demons had a decent turnout for Saturday's game, drawing a crowd of 4,161. Despite tonight's late tipoff, they are hoping that not playing on St. Patrick's Day will help even more.
"Our crowd always does a great job of supporting us," Deanna Ortiz said. "Now, with St. Patrick's Day behind us, I think we will get even more support."
Sharper Shooting: UT freshman point guard Ariel Massengale hasn't shot much lately, but her accuracy is improving nonetheless.
In her last six games, Massengale has made 10 of 18 field-goal attempts. In the previous four games, she was 2-for-15 from the field.
Notebook: Bruno coached UT's Vicki Baugh in USA Basketball. ... Michael Fahey, the Lady Vols video coordinator, is from Chicago and dates former DePaul player Sam Quigley.