Holly Warlick on UT's rout of Missouri
Missouri coach Robin Pingeton didn't take three minutes to call her first timeout Thursday night. She might as well have waved a white flag.
The Tigers never had a chance in their first SEC game at Thompson-Boling Arena.
Not only was Missouri overmatched, it willingly engaged in the up-tempo game that UT prefers. Combine that with wayward shooting, and the result was a ridiculously easy 84-39 victory for the ninth-ranked Lady Vols.
In fact, it might have been too easy. The Tigers were so accommodating, ninth-ranked Tennessee seemingly lost interest late in the first half.
"I think at times we did (lose interest)," UT coach Holly Warlick said. "Missouri is never out of a game because of their ability to shoot 3s.
"I thought in the second half, we let up. I just want us to play hard all the time. Regardless of who we're playing, our effort has to be consistent."
UT was on pace for a 60-point first half until it managed just six points in the last six minutes of the half. By then, Warlick already was substituting freely.
Her bench wasn't long enough to spare the Tigers, whose only recourse was to jack up 3s at every opportunity. That worked great for UT, especially when an errant 3 triggered a fast break.
And if you prefer records to victories, it worked out OK for the Tigers. Their 36 3-point attempts was a record by a UT opponent. Their nine made 3-pointers wasn't a record, but it was a considerable upgrade over Missouri's two-point shooting (4-for-30).
"Panicky," was Pingeton's one-word synopsis of her team's second loss in three conference games.
Her expanded analysis: "When you don't knock down shots, it makes for a long night."
The misfires weren't all self-induced. UT's quickness and aggressiveness — particularly in the first half — never allowed Missouri to become comfortable on the perimeter.
That wasn't by happenstance. After watching videotape of the Tigers making 18 of 36 3-pointers in a victory over Auburn, Warlick was feeling a little panicky herself.
"They can quick-shoot the basketball," she said.
You just couldn't tell it Thursday night.
"In the first half, I think our defense really affected them," UT guard Meighan Simmons said. "It didn't allow them to get into their sets as much as they usually do."
Despite the outcome, Warlick seemed to be focused more on the team she studied on videotape than the one UT beat so handily. She sounded as if she dreaded the rematch next month in Columbia, Mo.
Said Warlick: "I was already thinking (before the end of the game), 'We got to go up there and play.' "
She should be looking forward to it.