Elite Eight for Lady Vols, 84-73

Tennessee guard Meighan Simmons reacts during the second half of an NCAA women's tournament regional semifinal college basketball game against Kansas, Saturday, March 24, 2012, in Des Moines, Iowa.  Simmons scored 22 points in Tennessee's 84-73 win. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Photo by AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall

Tennessee guard Meighan Simmons reacts during the second half of an NCAA women's tournament regional semifinal college basketball game against Kansas, Saturday, March 24, 2012, in Des Moines, Iowa. Simmons scored 22 points in Tennessee's 84-73 win. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Ariel Massengale on Lady Vols' NCAA win over Kansas

Meighan Simmons on her play and Lady Vols' NCAA win over Kansas

DES MOINES, Iowa — The uniforms didn’t change. The faces still looked the same.

Tennessee’s makeover was competitive in nature, not cosmetic. No matter, it looked good to Vicki Baugh.

“Today, it showed me a new basketball team that was willing to fight regardless of what was happening,” the Lady Vols’ senior center said.

Baugh and her mates fought back from dire postseason straits. They erased a 14-point first-half deficit and scored an 84-73 NCAA women’s basketball tournament victory over Kansas at Wells Fargo Arena.

Led by Meighan Simmons’ 22 points, No. 2 seed Tennessee (27-8) pulled off its biggest comeback of the season and won for the first time in seven games when trailing at halftime. The resilience earned the Lady Vols a spot in Monday night’s final (TV: ESPN, 7 p.m.) of the Des Moines Regional.

They will face top-seed Baylor (37-0), which beat Georgia Tech 83-68 in Saturday’s other semifinal. Lady Bears center Brittney Griner scored 35 points and threw down a two-handed dunk.

Monday’s winner advances to the Final Four.

Simmons had plenty of scoring help as Glory Johnson scored 18 points and Shekinna Stricklen had 16. Along with five assists, Ariel Massengale scored 12 points, reaching double figures for the first time since Feb. 2.

Baugh led Tennessee’s 41-32 rebounding advantage with a game-high 11.

Collectively, UT piled up 54 points in the second half and led by as many as 16.

UT assistant coach Dean Lockwood could relate to Baugh’s transformative perspective. He took his swing at describing what took place.

“You know how you sit back sometimes and watch a kid who’s kind of afraid of a fastball and all of a sudden he knocks it off the wall for a double,” he said. “You just smile.”

The Lady Vols’ expressions were more grim at the outset as they got knocked around by No. 11 seed Kansas (21-13). Point guard Angel Goodrich had 12 of her game-high 23 points in the first half. She also summoned scoring help with three assists as the Jayhawks repeatedly punched holes in UT’s defense, turning its strength into a glaring weakness.

“We wanted to be the ones to attack, and we did and it felt really good,” Goodrich said.

Aishah Sutherland, who scored 19 points, converted a driving layup with 8:59 left in the first half, pushing Kansas’ lead to 26-12.

“We really looked confused in the first half,” Johnson said. “I’m not really sure why. Not everyone was in the same defense. People weren’t matching up with people.”

The Lady Vols made enough baskets to cut the deficit to 35-30 at halftime but they still needed to regroup.

Johnson said that the players had a lot to say to each other during the break. Baugh said that the coaches had their say as well. And head coach Pat Summitt was heard regarding two important topics: defense and rebounding.

“We have that ear for Pat, who doesn’t?” Baugh said. “We want to respect that. She was after us. She said this program is built on defense and boards. It was unacceptable, the first half.”

The Lady Vols changed their starting backcourt for the second half, replacing Briana Bass and Alicia Manning with Simmons and Massengale. They also relied on a man defensive alignment to clear up any confusion.

In the process, they cut Kansas’ lead to down to size quickly. Johnson’s jumper with 15 minutes left provided UT with its first lead since the game’s first minute. Simmons’ layup capped a 14-4 run and her subsequent jumper pushed UT’s lead to 73-57 with 4:32 left. The makeover was complete.

“We didn’t get all strung out because we got down by 14,” Lockwood said. “I think we got a little bit tougher mentally.”

Dan Fleser may be reached at 865-342-6288. Follow him at http://twitter.com/FleserKNS and http://blogs.knoxnews.com/fleser.

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Comments » 72

AHOUSE writes:

The lady vols seem to alwsys get a slow start. I wish meighan was good enough to start

voloffaith writes:

So a fiery halftime message delivered by someone got the training wheels off and ride big girl bike(no Harley reference for Holly). As Kara lawson stated regardless of opponent Monday do that agin and it won't be a 5 pt defict,but 20-25. She said 25 though.

BeRealistic writes:

You've got to start your better players instead of spotting the other 10 plus pts. We've got to start looking for a new HC. Bless you Pat.

huntined#565710 writes:

Great second half..Got to get one more and go to the big dance!!

kazoo writes:

Nice win: excellent second half after a pathetic first half. Simmons played her best game of the year--and Massengale finally started shooting the ball. She's a good shooter! I'm not sure why we start the game with Bass--why not Williams?

UT has a tendency to play bad basketball for long stretches--and that will not cut it now. Here's why beating Baylor will be hard: they beat Kansas twice--by 30 and 28, I believe--and Kansas scored 45 and 46 points in those games. Kansas scored more than 70 against UT. The Vols will have to play exceptionally well to win. Still, UT is a better basketball team than it was a month ago--even with the period of awfulness we have in every game. Here's hoping...

xvolx writes:

Simmons should never be out of a game. Strickland is lazy and Warlick can't coach. Kara Lawson is right. Start Bass and Manning against Baylor and you'll be down 25 points.

butch31 writes:

We were down 26-12 LOL...when we woke up we out score KU 72-47 So that is the real score. We were up at 5 a.m. and so was KU.
I see that it was the same people who have been the nemesis all season with the slow starts.
Expect a line up change on Monday against the winner of GTech/Baylor game.
Coach Summit DID NOT HOLD BACK at halftime LMAO

orangecountyvols writes:

Vols,

Yes indeed. That first half was Tennessee of late. The second half was Tennessee of old.

What was troubling was Baylor parting the red sea, so to speak, and getting through the lane to the basket.........plus our inability to throw a blanket over the outside perimeter shooters.

That second half? Awesome job of knocking down free throws, minimizing turnovers, fast break layups and pull up jumpers, plus tough rebounding.

A great team effort. Bench performance won the game. Now, hopefully more of a 40 minute game the next time.

Kansas? Great effort and congrats on your season.

Who knows, many have written the Lady Vols off long ago........but you just never know from this point on !

jt45 writes:

Way to go Simmons and company. Vicki Baugh better toughen up some by the next game. Starting ALL senors is starting to cost the LVs against these higher quality opponents, they need the best five on the floor from the opening tip from here on out. How can they NOT have energy in these tournament games ? It will take a whole game effort in the next one, these half game efforts wont work again.

butch31 writes:

in response to kazoo:

Nice win: excellent second half after a pathetic first half. Simmons played her best game of the year--and Massengale finally started shooting the ball. She's a good shooter! I'm not sure why we start the game with Bass--why not Williams?

UT has a tendency to play bad basketball for long stretches--and that will not cut it now. Here's why beating Baylor will be hard: they beat Kansas twice--by 30 and 28, I believe--and Kansas scored 45 and 46 points in those games. Kansas scored more than 70 against UT. The Vols will have to play exceptionally well to win. Still, UT is a better basketball team than it was a month ago--even with the period of awfulness we have in every game. Here's hoping...

Baylor wasn't up at 5 a.m. in those games vs KU though, UT was LOL. I am not seeing a correlation between the UT/KU games vs. the BU?KU games...please elaborate?

movol53 writes:

Notice what our bench did; that's next years team. We loss five players and only have three coming in. Williams, Simmons and Messengale will be the heart of the team next year. Just need to get Simmons to quit taking bad shots which she still does too often. GO LADY VOLS!!! ALL THE WAY!!! Just have to be the best team NOW!!!

rlshepa#259432 writes:

Amazing - Lady Vols in the elite 8 and still negative comments and negative comments regarding coaching from no it alls. Some real no brains out there.

ModelMaker writes:

Congratulations Lady Vols. I thought it was real smart of the coaches to start Massangale and Simmons in the second half. If they hadn't they would have been in big trouble. I really liked it when they had Johnson, Baugh, Simmons, Massangale, and Williams togeather. At least three of Simmons scores were assisted by Williams. I think Williams all around play is definitely helping the Lady Vols. I notice when they took Williams back out they got themselves into trouble again. I am also immpressed with Williams smarts. She is playing smart basketball right now along with Massangale. Simmions seems to be playing smarter than she was at the start of the year.

mytrifecta writes:

Great win. Coming back from such a big deficit can give a team lots of momentum. Hope we ride this to another NC.

SummittsCourt writes:

in response to rlshepa#259432:

Amazing - Lady Vols in the elite 8 and still negative comments and negative comments regarding coaching from no it alls. Some real no brains out there.

Glad to see I am not the only one who sees it. These know-it-alls couldn't coach or play so they think themselves experts behind the secrecy of a computer screen name. The Lady Vols just beat a good Kansas squad by 11 and they still can't be happy.

SummittsCourt writes:

7 double digit wins in a row over playoff teams! Go Lady Vols and bring on the bears!

butch31 writes:

THREE MORE GAMES LADIES...Lets get that BANNER!!! It appears that Baylor will be our treat LOL! I bet we do NOT shoot 29% again, and BLOW a 10 point lead LOL...

AHOUSE writes:

in response to rlshepa#259432:

Amazing - Lady Vols in the elite 8 and still negative comments and negative comments regarding coaching from no it alls. Some real no brains out there.

well all the negative coaches on here seem to agree the problems on the floor are the coaches on the bench making bad decisions (not Pat). In order to get better you have to know what you are doing wrong and correct it. Does that make sense? You keep doing the same wrong thing over and over again , you get the same results.

UTMaster04 writes:

I think the head coach and her coaching staff know what they are doing. However, I'm sure they will call the people on this board when they need some strategic advice. Go Big Orange!

tnbigg writes:

Way to roll Lady Vols! Keep it rockin'! Rock & roll to ANOTHER NCAA Championship!

ps11824 writes:

Maybe GT will shoot the big old bears out of the running. Probably not. Doesn't matter, however, if we play with conviction, take care of the ball and finish shots, we move on to Denver.

BeRealistic writes:

in response to SummittsCourt:

Glad to see I am not the only one who sees it. These know-it-alls couldn't coach or play so they think themselves experts behind the secrecy of a computer screen name. The Lady Vols just beat a good Kansas squad by 11 and they still can't be happy.

Baylor will beat our VOLS as much as they want. I consider myself an expert compared to you.

volaholic45 writes:

Good coaching. I wonder who's idea it was to guard somebody? Whoever it was, it was a good call.

Basketvol writes:

Congratulations Lady Vols and Pat Summitt! Thanks for representing our university well year after year.

TennesseeFab5 writes:

in response to AHOUSE:

well all the negative coaches on here seem to agree the problems on the floor are the coaches on the bench making bad decisions (not Pat). In order to get better you have to know what you are doing wrong and correct it. Does that make sense? You keep doing the same wrong thing over and over again , you get the same results.

Let me get this straight.... You are actually comparing the "coaches" on this site who have never stepped foot on a court as a coach except for their little kids rec team to the coach and her staff who have won over 1000 games and 8 national titles. Ha ha ha! I think I will trust Pat and her staff that they actually KNOW what they are talking about!! Ha ha ha ha!

Tennball writes:

in response to BeRealistic:

Baylor will beat our VOLS as much as they want. I consider myself an expert compared to you.

Please change your tag name to “BEPESSIMISTIC” as you are confusing people. Tennessee is in the Elite Eight and still has the opportunity to play in the Final Four. If Duke could upset us years ago from our dream season than anything is possible on Monday. Thanks to all the coaches and players for giving their efforts during this season and go out there and win this for yourselves.

kaida71 writes:

If you think about it the Lady vols are the only team that went toe to toe with Baylor!!!!I say let BG have her points shut down everyone else.

orangecountyvols writes:

Vols,

Here's a word for the "being realistic." What he really meant to say is Baylor will beat OUR Vols ( not his ) as much as HE wants.

Sounds a lot like the un-professionalhandicapper
doesn't he? As usual, even after a great effort to win this game, predictably the trolls come surfacing to try to take the luster away from what was an awesome second half performance.

I do wonder what the % of true Vol fans are on this site. Perhaps the KNS should have a poll to ask how many people here are honestly Vol fans and how many are trolls.

AHOUSE writes:

in response to TennesseeFab5:

Let me get this straight.... You are actually comparing the "coaches" on this site who have never stepped foot on a court as a coach except for their little kids rec team to the coach and her staff who have won over 1000 games and 8 national titles. Ha ha ha! I think I will trust Pat and her staff that they actually KNOW what they are talking about!! Ha ha ha ha!

Nobody is talking about the past! You don't have to be smarter than a 5th grader to understand that the present starters put the team behind. If you see and understand the game you may have a different view.

BeRealistic writes:

in response to Tennball:

Please change your tag name to “BEPESSIMISTIC” as you are confusing people. Tennessee is in the Elite Eight and still has the opportunity to play in the Final Four. If Duke could upset us years ago from our dream season than anything is possible on Monday. Thanks to all the coaches and players for giving their efforts during this season and go out there and win this for yourselves.

Sorry to confuse you. I believe our LV's has as good a chance to beat Baylor Monday as our football team has of winning the National Championship this year. We need to replace PS now or recruiting well hurt.

BeRealistic writes:

in response to AHOUSE:

Nobody is talking about the past! You don't have to be smarter than a 5th grader to understand that the present starters put the team behind. If you see and understand the game you may have a different view.

Thanks man, they don't understand.

kazoo writes:

To beat Baylor, we will have to find a way to bother Griner, make it difficult for her to score. She is having her way with Georgia Tech, and the rest of the team feeds off her. Baugh will have to defend her effectively without getting into foul trouble, which will be hard. Coaches might also consider using Harrison or Burdick on her some--so that we don't lose Baugh or Johnson to foul trouble. Better to let the rest of the Baylor team try to beat us than griner.

vol98champ writes:

I wonder if the LV coaches yell NO as much as I do before a turnover or missed shot by our girls, but I think I only yelled once in the second half. Simmons was great, but she sure deserved the one NO. We need all on deck if we are to hang with Baylor and I think we have only had that once this year.

martic#220796 writes:

Was just watching the BU/GT game Griner threw down a dunk. We better be on our game. It's funny to me that some are wanting Meghan to start when earlier everyone was saying how sorry she was. I was totally impressed with her defense most of all!! She's come a long way.If she continues to play within the team concept she'll do good. Poor ole Strick can't guard her way out of a paper bag. Anyway lets go LV!! We need to do this for Pat.I'd like to see us come out smoking hot and stay that way.

butch31 writes:

in response to kazoo:

To beat Baylor, we will have to find a way to bother Griner, make it difficult for her to score. She is having her way with Georgia Tech, and the rest of the team feeds off her. Baugh will have to defend her effectively without getting into foul trouble, which will be hard. Coaches might also consider using Harrison or Burdick on her some--so that we don't lose Baugh or Johnson to foul trouble. Better to let the rest of the Baylor team try to beat us than griner.

I say Let Britney score, but limit her! Shut down *Brooklyn Pope, Destiny Williams and Odyssey Sims* those three are the silent killers for BU.

PureOrange writes:

in response to AHOUSE:

The lady vols seem to alwsys get a slow start. I wish meighan was good enough to start

Simmons is good enough to start, but she has proven to be more effective coming off the bench.

movol53 writes:

in response to PureOrange:

Simmons is good enough to start, but she has proven to be more effective coming off the bench.

As I stated in a previous post; she will start next year!!! She'll be the go to guy er gal.

One_in_West_Knox writes:

The Lady Vols DO care!!

...er...did the MEN'S team, though??

r2d2 writes:

in response to gerrybla:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

"If the Vols play their best game of the year and Baylor plays average then Baylor wins by 10." No way, Jose.

Fall_Creek_Vols writes:

in response to kaida71:

If you think about it the Lady vols are the only team that went toe to toe with Baylor!!!!I say let BG have her points shut down everyone else.

Sorry, gotta disagree. I think we ought to pester her, limit her as much as possible and I agree it should be a team effort. This team - like all Tennessee teams - wins with defense and rebounding. Vicki Baugh will have to play the game of her career. Glory, too. Both will have to stay out of foul trouble, but Baylor is NOT unbeatable.

It's moment of truth time...again. Time to step it up...again. Shekinna? We've been here before. If we don't do what needs to be done, we're gonna regret it for a long time.

I will be glued to the tube Monday night. Go Lady Vols!

Jblue writes:

in response to rlshepa#259432:

Amazing - Lady Vols in the elite 8 and still negative comments and negative comments regarding coaching from no it alls. Some real no brains out there.

So so so very true. No team in the tournament cares and dwells on how they win these remaining games as long a they win. What good would it do if we continue to reflect on this game? Now we need to think about Baylor and the elite 8. Instead of criticizing the slow start of the lady vols, how about the negative posters get off your high horse and applaud their resilency and resolve to fight back from a double digit deficit. Thats the first time all year we've been able to do that(and what a time to do it!) Rise above the hate and keep fighting, Go Lady Vols!

maxvolfan#217855 writes:

Hold Pope, Williams , Sims in check and we win. We will have to shot at least %45 shooting to win.

RLL59 writes:

First of all, good win. Great defense in the second half, and for the most part, pressure offense as well.

But I really hope the coaches start their best team against Baylor, which means, much as I like and admire them, Briana and Alicia must be on the bench. If the best players start and get off to a bad start, so be it. They went with their best and it didn't work as hoped. If all seniors start, regardless of their skills relative to other players, and get off to a bad start, the coaches are responsible. Only those that don't understand the game will complain that we should have started all seniors... you know the 'lucky shirt' that has so far resulted in wins against inferior talent. The Lady Vols are a decided underdog against Baylor. Please don't give the Bears an early edge by starting players who should be substitutes.

TheStupidPolice writes:

Crompton v. UCLA > Vicki Baugh v. Kansas

If Baugh plays as poorly on Monday as she did today, Brittney Griner will set every record in the book. Baugh was scary bad today. Let's all pray that UT doesn't go with the senior starting lineup again on Monday. Simmons played lights out! I loved her energy. Massengale was spectacular too.

Tennball writes:

in response to BeRealistic:

Sorry to confuse you. I believe our LV's has as good a chance to beat Baylor Monday as our football team has of winning the National Championship this year. We need to replace PS now or recruiting well hurt.

In this case you show your statistical ignorance. The Lady Vols have a game Monday night against one of the best if not the best teams in the country to prove you wrong. A top ten team needs to beat number one. To compare this with a team that has yet to hit the field that would need 12 wins is not even close to a logical comparison. Maybe comparing it to beating Florida in the fall would be reasonably close. Just admit you are not a fan of the team and move on.

Razor784 writes:

This team was left for dead after a home loss to a mediocre Arkansas team, now to come back and win the SEC tourney and be into the Elite 8 of the NCAA's shows a lot of resilience on the part of this team so they deserve credit for at least getting back to respectability. Win or lose on Monday they've done a nice job of pulling it together under some tough circumstances down the stretch.

AHOUSE writes:

in response to PureOrange:

Simmons is good enough to start, but she has proven to be more effective coming off the bench.

Then give her 30 seconds on the bench and bring her on. It's hard to slow down a race horse. You can't be afraid to shoot!

min32926#266113 writes:

I feel the Lady Vols are peaking at the right time and they need to get Grainer in foul trouble early. Go Lady Vols...VFL.

r2d2 writes:

in response to gerrybla:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

No, you are not a dumb A-S. You are entitled to your opinion. It just happens that I disagree with you.

rocky_topper writes:

I think it would be awesome to watch a complete game where Ariel Massengale actually does a layup without falling onto the court. It looks bad!

There's no way they can beat Baylor, but they did get to the Elite 8, and I said all year they would never get past the Sweet 16. Kudos for at least making the Elite 8.

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