Lady Vols win home opener, 101-48

Tennessee's Isabelle Harrison, left, and Cierra Burdick team up against Rice's Nakachi Maduka at Thompson-Boling Arena on Thursday, November 15, 2012.

(Saul Young/News Sentinel)

Photo by Saul Young, 2012 Knoxville News Sentinel

Tennessee's Isabelle Harrison, left, and Cierra Burdick team up against Rice's Nakachi Maduka at Thompson-Boling Arena on Thursday, November 15, 2012. (Saul Young/News Sentinel)

Meighan Simmons didn’t remember a magic moment.

Tennessee’s junior guard thought that the Lady Vols’ about-face against Rice on Thursday night was more about a mindset.

“I don’t think there was any specific play,” she said. “... we made sure we were doing the right things on the floor.”

In so doing, the Lady Vols took an abrupt right turn. They erased a six-point deficit and sped off to a 101-48 women’s basketball victory before a crowd of 10,193 at Thompson-Boling Arena.

Simmons scored a game-high 22 points and led a Tennessee surge that produced 56 points from the foul-lane area and a staggering 32-0 whitewash in points off turnovers.

Rice coach Greg Williams couldn’t remember being involved in a game that featured the latter statistic.

“Once that gets going,” he said of the rout. “It’s like a shark feeding.”

Bashaara Graves scored 18 points for No. 24 Tennessee (1-1) and Isabelle Harrison set career highs with 16 points and 12 rebounds.

UT shot 56.8 percent from the floor (42 for 74) and amassed 24 assists while committing just seven turnovers. Reserve Kamiko Williams tied her career high with six assists.

The Lady Vols owed much of their impressive offensive showing to their defense.

“Defense, for us, has got to be a priority,” Tennessee first-year head coach Holly Warlick said. “And when it was, you can see, we separated ourselves.”

The first home victory for Warlick spoiled a homecoming for Rice guard Jessica Goswitz, who played on two state championship teams at Webb School. She had one 3-pointer in 30 playing minutes.

Goswitz described the game as “a wonderful opportunity.”

While Tennessee’s fans were gracious toward Goswitz, they were less enthused about her teammate, Jessica Kuster. The 6-foot-2 junior forward, Conference USA’s preseason player of the year, hit her first five shots and scored 12 of her team-high 16 points in the first 6 minutes, 4 seconds.

“I was thinking I was going to have to get out there,’’ Warlick said. “I wanted to block her shot from the sideline. We were not affecting her one bit.”

Rice (1-1) hit nine of its first 14 shots in opening a 22-16 lead within the first nine minutes.

Kuster picked up two fouls in the first half and played just 11 minutes, which worked to UT’s advantage. The Lady Vols also helped themselves by finally digging in and defending with more vigor.

“We changed our defense up a little bit; we switched up on (Kuster) but she was in a zone,” Warlick said. “I thought about going to a zone, but I just wanted to prove a point that our defense would step up and it did.”

It did almost immediately, playing an aggressive part in Rice going scoreless for nearly seven minutes. In that time, the Lady Vols bolted to a 34-22 lead.

Simmons got her game in gear in the second half, hitting all six of her shots and gathering all of her team-high four steals. Two of her steals led directly to layups.

“I think there’s a bigger expectation for me this year,’’ she said.

Warlick certainly has ambitious expectations for Simmons and rest of the team. Thursday’s performance was the best example to date of what she has in mind.

“It is how I envisioned this team,’’ she said, ‘because we’re capable of doing that.”

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Comments » 28

vol4life1983 writes:

Congrtas on a big win tonite!! STILLTENNESSEE

movol53 writes:

When these girls learn to play together on defense this is going to be fun!!! This year will be a great learning experience for all of these young players; they are only going to get better with age. We will suffer some defeats this year but watch out for the following years as Holly is building a very strong team for the future. This is going to be fun to watch!!!! Go Lady Vols!!!

Volinflan writes:

Each game I watch the more convinced that the most spectaculer freshman the Lady Vols have is Carter. When she's in the game she's always on the ball. She isn't the big scorer, or even the assist or steal leader, but she controls the flow of the ball. She puts on pressure which results in a bad pass that someone else steals. No stats on the pressure, but I see it. JJ and Bashara are also playing great BB. Tonights game was fun to watch.

Volinflan writes:

in response to movol53:

When these girls learn to play together on defense this is going to be fun!!! This year will be a great learning experience for all of these young players; they are only going to get better with age. We will suffer some defeats this year but watch out for the following years as Holly is building a very strong team for the future. This is going to be fun to watch!!!! Go Lady Vols!!!

They are fun to watch. But yes, they are gonna get clobbered a few times when they come up against another talented team with a lot of experience. But I'll be there when the Lady Vols do pay-backs. Won't take long. March maybe?

SoddyVol writes:

A good game. They did much better playing together on defense tonight. I'm enjoying the play of new team members and for the first time, I can say it was a joy to watch Kamiko Williams play. If she continues to play that good, she will have an excellent chance to make "all conference".

ONUV writes:

where is the story on Chamique Holdsclaw assaulting her girlfriend?

elmoe writes:

Here for one.
http://www.tennessean.com/article/201...|topnews|text|FRONTPAGE

movol53 writes:

in response to Volinflan:

They are fun to watch. But yes, they are gonna get clobbered a few times when they come up against another talented team with a lot of experience. But I'll be there when the Lady Vols do pay-backs. Won't take long. March maybe?

Paybacks will more than likely come next year.
Perhaps some of the SEC defeats will get "paid back" later this season.

elmoe writes:

Why Mique got a bat in her car?

ONUV writes:

I meant on this website.

Theo writes:

Gads - what a bummer during a week of great news for the Lady Vols - hoping this is a big misunderstanding.
Ever since Chamique lost her Grandmother and went through years of depression she has been a wandering soul. I imagine Pat's diagnosis has been a blow too. No excuses for bad behavior but something is not right here.
We could be hoping for leniency and help on this one.
Thinking of Chamique and the other person involved.

jt45 writes:

I like what Im seeing from this young team, they seem to hustle for loose balls more and are generally quicker than they have been in recent years. It might not be this year but I have a feeling with all the talent coming in next year that the Lady Vols will be back in the hunt for another Banner over the next four years. I really like the way Carter is handling the ball and her defense is very good for such a young player.

butch31 writes:

This UT Lady Vol is just as good as last years team...Taber hasn't even played good yet. Kamiko is looking better each week, if she catches her old form...WATCH OUT! We are just that good! SEC here we come. Next game against Miami is a good measuring stick.

tonyvick#213307 writes:

This team will go as "Izzy" goes. Just wait until Carter comes out of her shell and realize she belongs in this league. Burdick is such a smart player and Graves just knows what to do at this young stage in her career. Simmons you have ladies around you that can shoot so you don't have to shoot you way out of a game slump, pass your way out of a game slump. Massengale just love your confidence

oldster writes:

Only 7 turnovers? For the Lady Vols? That is a great stat. If they can keep that going, and hit layups at a reasonable clip, then this team may exceed not only expectations, but the performances of the past 2 or 3 years. I am telling you - turnovers will flat kill a team.

SummittsCourt writes:

Basically they ended the game on an 85-26 run. This is the kind of play that the Lady Vols are famous for and makes one think they can do some special things this year too.

underthehill writes:

in response to SoddyVol:

A good game. They did much better playing together on defense tonight. I'm enjoying the play of new team members and for the first time, I can say it was a joy to watch Kamiko Williams play. If she continues to play that good, she will have an excellent chance to make "all conference".

Kamiko may well be one of the most athletic ladies to ever play for UT..she can create her own shot..has excellent jumping ability..good speed..very good passing to open player..I have never understood why she has not played up to her potential..could be she hasn't realized how good she can be...

vol98champ writes:

When Speedy is on this team can win a lot of games. When she is off Kamiko has to step up and do it.

mocsandvolsfan writes:

WTG LVs Great results of hard work.

maxvolfan#217855 writes:

in response to underthehill:

Kamiko may well be one of the most athletic ladies to ever play for UT..she can create her own shot..has excellent jumping ability..good speed..very good passing to open player..I have never understood why she has not played up to her potential..could be she hasn't realized how good she can be...

I love Kamiko game too. She can create shoots, look for open players, and is a silky smooth lefty shooter. My only knock on her game and not really a knock but she seems to slow the tempo down and the momentum . I don't think that's what Holly wants in the beginning of the game which is why she comes off the bench.

maxvolfan#217855 writes:

This is the most impressive freshmen squad I have ever seen in recent memory. They are not afraid , timid, and each one of them contributed last night. Of course my favorite Graves is just burying players underneath and getting easy buckets. Layup!! We are making layups , something we had problems with last year. Our post are rangey and long. If the coaches can work with a couple of the on outside shoots around the foul line its going to be hard to stop the high low because teams has to respect every post player on the floor. Love it

underthehill writes:

in response to tonyvick#213307:

This team will go as "Izzy" goes. Just wait until Carter comes out of her shell and realize she belongs in this league. Burdick is such a smart player and Graves just knows what to do at this young stage in her career. Simmons you have ladies around you that can shoot so you don't have to shoot you way out of a game slump, pass your way out of a game slump. Massengale just love your confidence

Burdick has the unique ability to know where every player on the floor is and can make passes even her own players don't expect..this happened several times last year and she would be credited with a turnover when actually she made a pass that should have resulted in an assist..

johnlg00 writes:

in response to SoddyVol:

A good game. They did much better playing together on defense tonight. I'm enjoying the play of new team members and for the first time, I can say it was a joy to watch Kamiko Williams play. If she continues to play that good, she will have an excellent chance to make "all conference".

I didn't see the game, so this is just a general comment and a request for other opinions. The Kamiko Williams story has been something of a mystery to me ever since she has been here. When she gets playing time, she nearly always looks pretty good, or at least that has been my impression. But she just doesn't get that much playing time. In fact, there have been stretches when she hardly plays for several games in a row. Is she chronically out of shape? Has she had nagging injuries? Does she have personality conflicts with teammates and/or coaches? Can anybody enlighten me on any of this?

johnlg00 writes:

I see that a couple of posts chimed in on this general theme which I didn't see before writing mine. One mentioned an issue with her slowing down the tempo. But, again, is that a physical thing with her or is she not in tune with the team's philosophy? Do many on here think she will be a more regular part of the rotation this year?

maxvolfan#217855 writes:

To me Kamikos body language is not right. Yes she hustles and is into the game, but there is a chemistry conflict with the other players. Idk just my two cent observation. To me her and Spani are a tad bit slow in transition. One things for sure we have a lot if depth something a lot of teams lack in the SEC.

volboy81 writes:

I was impressed with the Lady Vols last night. Graves, Carter and Izzy are beasts! If Holly can get them in every game mentally, we will win a lot of games. The talent is there. Starting 2 freshmen says a lot, esp. since Spani isnt even starting, as a Senior. Women's BB has come a long way. Summitt's first home game had 53 people there in Alumni Gym. Holly's had 10,193 in TBA. Summitt & Co. built it, Warlick & Co. will continue the great tradition!!

maxvolfan#217855 writes:

Even Mickey Dearstone said Izzy is a beast! Our girls continue to play at this level and better ... Watchout. Experience is our only weakness. With this schedule they will learn. I can't wait for them to retake the SEC crown. Prove em wrong girls!

ps11824 writes:

[[oldster writes:
Only 7 turnovers? For the Lady Vols? That is a great stat. If they can keep that going, and hit lay-ups at a reasonable clip, then this team may exceed not only expectations, but the performances of the past 2 or 3 years. I am telling you - turnovers will flat kill a team.]]

I love that assist/turnover stat. If we could stay in single digits TOs and continue to shoot near 60% in the paint area, look out! I don't want to get too excited just yet, but I am pleased by the way they picked up the defense and took of to the races. 100+ at home for the crowd is a pleasant comeback since the UTC debacle. I'm still defending the Lady Mocs and Coach Wes Moore as a legitimate basketball team, but we should have beaten them. I'm hoping we learned much from the loss.

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