Simmons leads No. 11 Tennessee past Arkansas 60-54

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) — Meighan Simmons made sure Tennessee didn't overlook Arkansas again.

Simmons scored 18 points as No. 11 Tennessee rallied from an 11-point second-half deficit to defeat Arkansas 60-54 on Sunday.

The Lady Vols (22-5, 13-1 Southeastern Conference) extended their winning streak to five games and remained atop the conference standings. The win also follows a shocking overtime win last season by the Lady Razorbacks, their first win in Knoxville.

Simmons, the SEC's leading scorer, had 11 points in the second half to lead Tennessee back from a 28-19 halftime deficit. Taber Spani added 14 points for the Lady Vols, while Bashaara Graves had 11.

Quistelle Williams led Arkansas (17-10, 5-9), which has lost seven of its nine games to ranked teams, with 15 points.

Tennessee trailed 28-19 at halftime after Arkansas closed out the half with a 9-0 run.

The Lady Vols, who shot just 26.9 percent in the first half, came out in the second with a point to prove following last season's overtime loss to the Lady Razorbacks.

The win was Arkansas' first in Knoxville, and it snapped an 18-game winning streak in the series for the Lady Vols. It also helped earn the Razorbacks an NCAA tournament berth while opening up the door for Kentucky to move past Tennessee and win the SEC's regular season championship.

Highlights from the win were played on the video board in Bud Walton Arena before Sunday's tipoff, a fact that didn't go unnoticed by the Lady Vols — who turned their heads to watch the pre-game presentation.

While the first half didn't go as planned, they took control early in the second half. After Arkansas took a 30-19 lead following a jumper by Jhasmin Bowen, Tennessee went on a 24-6 run to take a 43-36 lead.

Ariel Massengale gave the Lady Vols their first lead since the first half with a drive that put them up 38-36, a lead didn't give up for the rest of the game.

Arkansas did close back to within 51-50 following a jumper by Sarah Watkins with 3:32 remaining, but Simmons and Spani hit shots in the closing minute — to go along with made free throws — to close out the win.

Tennessee led by as many as seven midway through the first half, taking a 14-7 lead after a putback by Simmons finished off a 7-0 run.

Arkansas, however, answered with a stunning 21-5 run to close out the half — bookmarking 10-0 and 9-0 runs around a brief reprieve for the Lady Vols. The latter run closed out the first half for the Lady Razorbacks, who took a 28-19 halftime lead when Watkins connected on a baseline jumper as the buzzer sounded.

Tennessee was just 7 of 26 (26.9 percent) from the field in the half and committed 13 turnovers. Every Lady Vols player had at least one turnover, while Arkansas had just four.

They cleaned up their game in the second half, committing just three turnovers after the break. Tennessee also outrebounded the Razorbacks 46-33 and hit 17 of 22 free throws, compared to just 2 of 4 from the line for Arkansas.

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Comments » 16

LadyVolsFan71 writes:

Good win on the road Lady Vols. UK lost just now at LSU. UT now up 2 games on UK.

SoddyVol writes:

Maybe Simmons didn't overlook Ark but the team as a whole no doubt had A&M and Ky on their minds before their terrible first half. Graves ended up with 11 points and 9 rebounds but I really expected a little more than 4 points from the floor. Now, beat A&M to be SEC champs or if Vandy can beat A&M, they could win one of the last two and be Champs.

HazardKYVol writes:

Good win, but what is it with women and layups? They seem to have a hard time making them.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to HazardKYVol:

Good win, but what is it with women and layups? They seem to have a hard time making them.

Same thing happens a lot with the men. Modern players haven't been systematically taught and drilled on putting the ball up HIGH on the backboard. Most of the time they try to get it just BARELY over the rim instead of powering it to the glass. Then when they get bumped or held, they don't have enough oomph get it up there.

maxvolfan#217855 writes:

Why is it so uncool to use the glass? I know Simmons has a sweet bank shot on the inside wing that she makes 90% of the time. I teach my daughter how to use the box and glass to better her shooting % . But for everyone playing the game its not a popular selection.

ljlongtimevolfan writes:

Is Simmons considering foregoing her senior season and entering the WNBA draft?

johnlg00 writes:

in response to maxvolfan#217855:

Why is it so uncool to use the glass? I know Simmons has a sweet bank shot on the inside wing that she makes 90% of the time. I teach my daughter how to use the box and glass to better her shooting % . But for everyone playing the game its not a popular selection.

I've mentioned my suspicions about this before, but I guess it bears repeating. Most modern players, male and female alike, grow up playing on outdoor courts with goals supported by poles, with rather small, metal, half-moon shaped backboards. The goals are often comparatively rickety. The backboards don't have as much usable surface as the glass backboards in most gyms, and a ball put on the board tends to make the goal shake, so players don't get the sense of a reliable bounce off of them even if they put the ball in the right spot. Also, it takes a bit of practice to find the right spots for shots from different angles and distances. Most of those goals are used by hordes of kids whenever weather and light permit, so kids don't have goals to themselves to practice on enough. Then when they get to college, they haven't developed the habit of that kind of practice. By contrast, the rim is mostly the same height on every goal, so they get into the habit of aiming for it every time. I would be interested to know how Meighan got into the habit of shooting off the board and how much she practices it, because she does it in games more than almost any other player I see regularly.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to ljlongtimevolfan:

Is Simmons considering foregoing her senior season and entering the WNBA draft?

Why would you say that? The incentive for women to pass up part of their college career is nowhere NEAR what the men have. A guy who goes pro early stands to make millions of dollars; only a very few of the most distinguished and experienced WNBA players make as much as six figures. Foreign teams pay more but not HUGELY more. Also, Meighan doesn't have the potential to make lots of extra money in commercials. I can't imagine anybody who would be more qualified to do that than Candace Parker and Sue Bird, but I have hardly ever seen a commercial with either of them. For the women, the main purpose of playing college ball is to get that degree. That is why female graduation rates are so much higher than those of male players. A female player knows from the time she learns what college is that a degree is her best ticket to a successful life. It is for the majority of male players as well, but teenage boys are not, as most of us know, as mature and realistic as teenage girls on average.

ps11824 writes:

Regarding the missed layups: I think they are anticipating getting hit. Not uncommon. The fear of serious injury is a real thing. Perhaps more positive reinforcement, strength & conditioning? A lack of focus being one of the reasons for so many unforced turnovers too?

johnlg00 writes:

in response to ps11824:

Regarding the missed layups: I think they are anticipating getting hit. Not uncommon. The fear of serious injury is a real thing. Perhaps more positive reinforcement, strength & conditioning? A lack of focus being one of the reasons for so many unforced turnovers too?

Well, yes, but some players seem more concerned about that, or at least about SOMETHING, than others. If you are going to go inside, you are GOING to get hit, so you might as well concentrate on putting the ball in the basket. Some teams use managers and coaches to hold pillows, for want of a better term, to bat players with while they are driving the basket. Others just shove players while they are going up for layups to accustom them to the contact. NO player can let fear of getting hacked or knocked down prevent them from taking it inside with a purpose. If it does, then maybe they should take up volleyball.

ps11824 writes:

Good post, johnLg. Wouldn't you agree we are missing an awful lot of "Chippy layups" more so than usual? And as for the unforced turnovers, would you agree they are hurrying?

johnlg00 writes:

in response to ps11824:

Good post, johnLg. Wouldn't you agree we are missing an awful lot of "Chippy layups" more so than usual? And as for the unforced turnovers, would you agree they are hurrying?

Yes, I think I would agree with this for the most part. I'm not sure the LVs are missing more layups than usual FOR THEM, since I have seen this problem for some time with the LVs. I don't know whether it is the type of players they are recruiting or what they do to try to condition them to play through contact. As for the unforced turnovers, I do think they sometimes try to make plays that aren't there instead of trying to do something with a higher possibility of success or at least less adverse consequences if it fails.

Theo writes:

in response to johnlg00:

Yes, I think I would agree with this for the most part. I'm not sure the LVs are missing more layups than usual FOR THEM, since I have seen this problem for some time with the LVs. I don't know whether it is the type of players they are recruiting or what they do to try to condition them to play through contact. As for the unforced turnovers, I do think they sometimes try to make plays that aren't there instead of trying to do something with a higher possibility of success or at least less adverse consequences if it fails.

Hi John, combining your two thoughts - Do we sometimes try and go in for the layup in order to avoid the dreaded 8' stop jump shot which almost always goes off the back of the rim because they are still floating toward the basket. Meighan seems to be able to stop and go straight up but Meighan is a different bird regarding go and stop (both very quickly). Also, sometimes I think we go in for the lay up never expecting to make it. Looking for the foul.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to Theo:

Hi John, combining your two thoughts - Do we sometimes try and go in for the layup in order to avoid the dreaded 8' stop jump shot which almost always goes off the back of the rim because they are still floating toward the basket. Meighan seems to be able to stop and go straight up but Meighan is a different bird regarding go and stop (both very quickly). Also, sometimes I think we go in for the lay up never expecting to make it. Looking for the foul.

Very perceptive comment. Some good coaches these days actively discourage their players from taking any shot that isn't a 3-pointer or a layup; Rick Pittino is such a one. This creates a tendency in many players to try to glide all the way to the basket. Then when their progress is stopped, they often decide then to try some kind of gliding jumper, which as you have noted is a very low percentage shot, and often leads to a charging foul.

I have always believed players should learn to PICK their way toward the basket, looking for particular spots on the floor that they can reach in one or two dribbles with the intent of going straight up into a mid-range jumper. Once they reach these spots and there is an opening to go to the hoop, they are then only one power dribble away from a strong layup. Every player should figure out where they like to shoot from and practice getting to those spots, throwing a hard stop, and going straight up into the shot. The point is to develop predetermined options and keep the dribble alive to carry out any option available. You can also make better passes when you stay on the ground.

They have to do this kind of practice on their own, but the payoff in improved offensive efficiency is immense. Meighan seems to do this better than anyone else on the team right now. Jordan McRae's improved play lately is, IMHO, directly related to a new-found ability to do this.

Volinflan writes:

Speaking of good players, doesn't recruiting season resume March 1? With A&M Thur and KY Sun the coaches will be busy, busy, busy! I'm guessing the Lady Vols won't play until Mar 8 so there will be some free time, maybe.

maxvolfan#217855 writes:

The Aggies and Wildcats have players they must depend on to win. Bone must have a decent game and Mathis must also have a good outing to win. UT needs Simmons also but I believe we have a better supporting cast to take some of the pressure to score off of Simmons. A&M plays through Bone . UK struggles when Mathis is not on. Too many times this season the Vols left a player go off on use in points. We have to shut both players down . Izzy be ready to battle and contain.

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