Photo by Saul Young, 2013 Knoxville News Sentinel // Buy this photo
Good shooting begins with good judgment.
"For the most part I think (the players) understand what is a good shot and a bad shot," Warlick said. "We don't take a lot of bad shots."
Before a crowd of 11,727 at Thompson-Boling Arena, the Lady Vols' judicious touch translated into a season-high 59.4 percent field goal accuracy (38-for-54) and five double-figure scorers. It was their most accurate shooting day since hitting at a 69.2 percent clip against UCLA on Dec. 17, 2011.
Against Ole Miss, they scored 46 points from close range but also shot 6-for-13 on 3-pointers. After two wayward performances from the foul line, they achieved a season-best 93.8 percent accuracy on free throws (15-of-16).
Meighan Simmons and Bashaara Graves were their usual selves with 24 and 19 points respectively. But reserve Nia Moore also joined the act with a season-high 12 points in just 10 minutes.
In short, virtually all the Lady Vols made good on all manner of shots.
"A lot of it had to do with us being able to get up and down the floor," said Taber Spani, who bounced back from zero points against LSU to score
12. "We moved very fast and quick. That also helps when you're shooting high-percentage shots — layups and jumpers."
Simmons, in particular, benefitted from the fast pace. The majority of her baskets were scored either off the dribble or in transition, including a second-half drive in which the junior guard swooped across the lane to convert. Simmons surpassed Tonya Edwards on the Lady Vol career scoring list and stands in 26th place with 1,319 points.
"Meighan's the best scorer we have; she's very confident," Graves said. "Everyone else is trying to get the way she is."
Graves tried in her typical workmanlike fashion, driving to the basket as if she was running between the tackles. She shot 6-for-8 from the floor and was 7-for-7 on free throws. In gathering 11 rebounds, the freshman forward recorded her ninth double-double of the season, tying Tamika Catchings for fourth most by a UT freshman.
Ole Miss forward Danielle McCray said she was surprised by Graves' strength. Graves' teammates are more accustomed to her powering up through multiple defenders, as she did in scoring the winning basket Thursday night at LSU. But they're no less impressed.
"She knows how to use her body more than anything," Spani said. "It's crazy."
While the game's fast pace enhanced Tennessee's scoring, it also exposed suspect ball-handling, which undermined UT's defense.
Led by Diara Moore's 16 points, Ole Miss (8-15, 1-9) converted 19 Tennessee turnovers into 20 points. The Rebels bounced back from an early deficit to rally within 28-23 with 5:52 left in the first half.
"We're a transition team as well, and I think we're best in the open court," Ole Miss coach Brett Frank said. "I feel like our players did a good job of making transition off their miscues."
The Rebels couldn't keep up, however, enabling the Lady Vols to play all nine available players and spread the playing time. Graves, Simmons and point guard Ariel Massengale reached 30 minutes with Simmons logging a team-high 31.
Nia Moore, a freshman center, made the most of her time, converting 4-of-5 field goal attempts and all four of her free throws. Warlick indicated that she will reconsider Moore's heretofore limited role when UT returns to action Sunday against Vanderbilt.
"She's put in the time and the work," Warlick said, "and I'm comfortable with her coming out and giving us some minutes."
Lady Vols/Vandy at 5: Game time for Tennessee versus Vanderbilt on Sunday at Thompson-Boling Arena will be 5 p.m.
Due to an administrative error at the SEC office, the Vanderbilt-UT start had been published incorrectly on schedules. The game will be televised by ESPN2.
The game will be Tennessee’s “Live Pink, Bleed Orange” game to raise funds and awareness for finding a cure for breast cancer.