No worry against Missouri for Lady Vols, 84-39

3-point plan nets 27 points, but just 13 for 66 overall

Saul Young/News Sentinel
Tennessee's Nia Moore fights for the ball with Missouri's Darian Saunders at Thompson-Boling Arena on Thursday.

Photo by Saul Young, 2012 Knoxville News Sentinel

Saul Young/News Sentinel Tennessee's Nia Moore fights for the ball with Missouri's Darian Saunders at Thompson-Boling Arena on Thursday.

Holly Warlick on UT's rout of Missouri

Tennessee defused a bomb squad in convincing fashion Thursday night.

The Lady Vols struck early and scored an 84-39 SEC women’s basketball victory over Missouri before a crowd of 10,967 at Thompson-Boling Arena.

Meighan Simmons led No. 9 Tennessee (12-3, 3-0 SEC) with 18 points. Bashaara Graves scored 16. Isabelle Harrison had 12 and grabbed a career-high 15 rebounds. Taber Spani was UT’s other double-figure scorer with 11 points.

After two victories that featured strong second-half play, the Lady Vols surged before halftime, building a 48-21 lead. The advantage enabled them to empty the bench and share the playing time in advance of Sunday’s game at Florida. Simmons and Ariel Massengale logged the most minutes with 29 apiece.

Missouri (12-5, 1-2), the conference’s most potent 3-point shooting team, managed nine treys and set an arena record with 36 attempts. Morgan Eye hit six treys and set an arena record for 3-point attempts by an individual (17). She scored a team-high 18 points.

No matter the distance, the Tigers struggled to hit the target. Along with their 25 percent from long range, they were worse on their other attempts, finishing a collective 19.7 percent (13 for 66) from the floor. The percentage was a season low by a UT opponent.

“When you don’t knock down shots,” Missouri coach Robin Pingeton said, “it makes for a long night.”

Tennessee’s best defense at the outset was a prolific offense. The Lady Vols took advantage of the game’s fast tempo to score 24 points inside the first eight minutes. By halftime, seven Lady Vols had scored and three were threatening to reach double figures.

I just love that kind of play. I love up and down,” Simmons said. “I think that actually it brings out our strengths.”

The Tigers struck for a pair of early 3-pointers and were halfway to their per-game average of 10 by halftime. It wasn’t for lack of defensive effort on the Lady Vols’ part. They had been reminded all week that the Tigers’ made an SEC-record 18 treys last Sunday against Auburn. Coach Holly Warlick said that she told her players; “You think Auburn ... they practiced for the three and knew Missouri was going to shoot the three. You may know it, but it’s up to you to stop it.”

Guarding Missouri’s offense, though, had to be experienced to be truly appreciated by the Lady Vols. Even post players Harrison and Graves found themselves occasionally guarding on the perimeter.

“They set eight screens in one set,” Simmons said. “We have never experienced that.

I thinks that’s like I said, it just tests our defense and how well we can play defense for 30 seconds.”

Several Lady Vols took turns chasing Eye. Along with limiting her scoring damage, they helped force five turnovers by the sophomore guard.

The Tigers missed their first 11 shots from 2-point range before Bri Kulas converted a layup off an inbounds play with 3:58 left in the half. They finished 4 for 30 on 2-pointers.

We knew that they were three point shooters, so we definitely wanted to take that away from them,” Harrison said, “and then I feel like once we really got down to that, they tried to come inside and we’re such a presence in there, it affects their shots.”

The Lady Vols struggled to recapture the energy with which they started the game, missed eight of their first nine shots to start the second half.

Still, they had their moments. Jasmine Jones and Kamiko Williams woke up the crowd by blocking consecutive shot attempts by Tigers forward Darian Saunders, leading to a transition basket by Simmons with 7:35 left.

Williams later climbed up to dislodge a shot that stuck between the rim and the glass.

Dan Fleser covers Tennessee women’s basketball. Follow him at http://twitter.com/FleserKNS and http://blogs.knoxnews.com/fleser.

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Comments » 28

wigmeister writes:

At least the Lady Vols are playing up to their potential. They were a pleasure to watch this evening. All of them really hustled the whole time they were on the floor. Good coaching-good playing.

VolInIndy writes:

Graves looks like Glory but she can hit layups fairly consistently. Glory is one of my all-time favorites but she played too fast, especially early on. Harrison is fun to watch. Glad to see Kamiko finally show consistency and Spani returning to form. Love em all and can't wait till the new Mercedes pulls on the lot.

PureOrange writes:

Another good game. Like the hustle. This team plays with heart. Got to love em.

jt45 writes:

This bunch is playing good BB right now, their inside outside execution has improved alot. I hope they keep the pressure on when they those Gatorettes on sunday.

Razor784 writes:

This group is fun to watch and this was a decent team they put a beating on.

butch31 writes:

I'm glad to see everyone buying into this group. This team will only get better and better! Go Lady Vols!!!

jdcdjc writes:

in response to VolInIndy:

Graves looks like Glory but she can hit layups fairly consistently. Glory is one of my all-time favorites but she played too fast, especially early on. Harrison is fun to watch. Glad to see Kamiko finally show consistency and Spani returning to form. Love em all and can't wait till the new Mercedes pulls on the lot.

Best post I have seen, love it!!!

ps11824 writes:

Good win last night. Flashes of exciting play. Here it come - still hoping they cut down on ill-advised passes and off-balance shots. I had to say that, but I sure like the potential in the style of play. I like Holly's coaching.

Izzy and Graves is a dynamic duo, getting better all along. Stay healthy. Take care of those bodies. Be smart and keep working hard.

SummittsCourt writes:

I like the fact that the team played hard until the clock was at triple 0's.

maxvolfan#217855 writes:

outside of Uconn and Baylor , i believe this team can compete with any team in the country. i still think its going to take perfect strategy, a perfect game, and a little bit of luck to knock those two giants off. it can be done. i love the short bench. good team win through streaks. i kills the will of a team. i wished we would have had Izzy for that Baylor game . Griner scored the first 10 point of the game setting the rout. she was available against Stanford but not 100% against Chiney O. now its time take care of business against FL

min32926#266113 writes:

I love my Lady Vols! GBO...VFL!

orangecountyvols writes:

Vols,

Missouri girls and Tennessee men shot their 3's in similar fashion in their last games but as badly as the Lady Tigers shot them..........that was still better.

richvol writes:

First time I have seen Jasmine Jones play and she was impressive. Kamiko is an outstanding point and should be starting IMO. A teams point must be able to hit their free throws and Massingale is very inconsistent.

jt45 writes:

Looking forward to the ND game here at TBA on the 28th, it should be a good one. ND played extremely well in their win over Uconn so we shall see how much this group has improved when those irish girls come to town. A win over them would be a huge confidence builder. Kentucky might be the only team standing in the way of another SEC championship but right now I give the LVs the edge based on what games I have seen.

RLL59 writes:

First, a win is a win and improves the won-lost percentage. But this game really didn't indicate anything, positive or negative. It was more like a scrimmage. After the game, we had the obligatory, but now annoying, comments from the coaches about the Lady Vols letting up after getting the big lead and how the Lady Vols have to play Missouri again on their home court.

Had the Lady Vols been playing one of the top teams, their constant over guarding would have led to easy baskets; their rebounding stats would be significantly lower; many of their shots under the basket would have been blocked.They didn't let up in the second half; they did what any team does when they are way ahead with no chance of losing; they took ill advised shots and were more careless with the ball. They still played hard, just not smart. But this was Missouri, not Baylor.

The Lady Vols have great young talent and are improving with experience. This year will be a good year; but the next few will be better.

voloffaith writes:

Last night was defensively easy in reality. They didn't have to really concern themselves with tyger post presence much at all. Yes few venturing in had shots swatted away with exception of a 2 to 3 miscommunications allowing uncontested layups. Team looked ready with solid game plan that was probably executed pretty much the way Coach Warlick wanted it. Coach Butler and chomperettes will be a hard one this Sunday in chomper arena. Think the ladies now have the mindset of what's expected. It comes down to wanting combined with execution. GO LADY VOLS!!!

Caspian writes:

in response to richvol:

First time I have seen Jasmine Jones play and she was impressive. Kamiko is an outstanding point and should be starting IMO. A teams point must be able to hit their free throws and Massingale is very inconsistent.

I've always liked Kamiko at point. She's very smooth and plays under control. Her understanding of the offense seems to have been her problem early on. This year, I say start Kamiko.

GOJO writes:

in response to RLL59:

First, a win is a win and improves the won-lost percentage. But this game really didn't indicate anything, positive or negative. It was more like a scrimmage. After the game, we had the obligatory, but now annoying, comments from the coaches about the Lady Vols letting up after getting the big lead and how the Lady Vols have to play Missouri again on their home court.

Had the Lady Vols been playing one of the top teams, their constant over guarding would have led to easy baskets; their rebounding stats would be significantly lower; many of their shots under the basket would have been blocked.They didn't let up in the second half; they did what any team does when they are way ahead with no chance of losing; they took ill advised shots and were more careless with the ball. They still played hard, just not smart. But this was Missouri, not Baylor.

The Lady Vols have great young talent and are improving with experience. This year will be a good year; but the next few will be better.

********
With your expertise & coaching skills, why don't you & "professional handicapper" team up to produce a world-class team somewhere?

reg_mza#219136 writes:

Great job ladies. That's how you represent in your own backyard. Don't let anyone come in and try to dictate anything to you, take it to them! Is happy watching at least some basketball at UT.

jt45 writes:

in response to RLL59:

First, a win is a win and improves the won-lost percentage. But this game really didn't indicate anything, positive or negative. It was more like a scrimmage. After the game, we had the obligatory, but now annoying, comments from the coaches about the Lady Vols letting up after getting the big lead and how the Lady Vols have to play Missouri again on their home court.

Had the Lady Vols been playing one of the top teams, their constant over guarding would have led to easy baskets; their rebounding stats would be significantly lower; many of their shots under the basket would have been blocked.They didn't let up in the second half; they did what any team does when they are way ahead with no chance of losing; they took ill advised shots and were more careless with the ball. They still played hard, just not smart. But this was Missouri, not Baylor.

The Lady Vols have great young talent and are improving with experience. This year will be a good year; but the next few will be better.

You do realize their overguarding was a defensive strategy to keep uncontested 3 point shots to minimum and it worked as far as their shooting percentage goes. They did get a little loose late in the second half but really not worth criticizing after playing sound BB for most of the game.

Theo writes:

Fun game but, as many have pointed out, Mizz was overmatched. Nonetheless, they are scholarship players and it was an SEC win.
Really like the fact that no one played over 30 minutes. Also enjoyed getting to see the other Jasmine and Nia play some minutes. I could be crazy but I thought Nia started playing much better towards the end of her minutes. Just looked more relaxed.
Really interesting comments by Holly on their approach to coaching Simmons. Glad she addressed the "selfish" label that some want to apply to Meghan. I've really felt for a long time that she just did not seem like the sort of kid who was selfish. I think "speedy's" legs and mind often work at the same speed. I shudder to think what she was like as a toddler.
Agreed with the commentators re JJ. The athletic talent is over the moon and when the coaches upgrade her skill sets she could really be special.
I really like this team and staff. Go LVs, drain the swamp.

voloffaith writes:

in response to RLL59:

First, a win is a win and improves the won-lost percentage. But this game really didn't indicate anything, positive or negative. It was more like a scrimmage. After the game, we had the obligatory, but now annoying, comments from the coaches about the Lady Vols letting up after getting the big lead and how the Lady Vols have to play Missouri again on their home court.

Had the Lady Vols been playing one of the top teams, their constant over guarding would have led to easy baskets; their rebounding stats would be significantly lower; many of their shots under the basket would have been blocked.They didn't let up in the second half; they did what any team does when they are way ahead with no chance of losing; they took ill advised shots and were more careless with the ball. They still played hard, just not smart. But this was Missouri, not Baylor.

The Lady Vols have great young talent and are improving with experience. This year will be a good year; but the next few will be better.

Sorry coaches comments were annoying to you. That being said I'm sure you realize game plans are designed to fit the opponent. This one has a strong perimeter game with a lil post play thrown in. Thus the overplay on the guards(ie see Auburn stats vs Mizz) was predicated on their strengths. That being said we would not employ that same game plan on a team that chunks it into the paint 75% of the time. Although we would work hard on their guards to deny the entry pass's. So defensively the game plan varies game to game based on the adversaries strengths and weaknesses.....Game Planning 101 is now over for the day students...

volsgirl writes:

So pround of Lady Vols......WHOOOOOOOOOO.

ModelMaker writes:

I thought Graves and Harrison were outstanding inside. They pretty much set the tone for the game. Williams continues too impress me. I think she is the best sixth (or seventh) player coming off the bench in womens basketball. Graves and Harrison are going to have to lead the way when they go to Florida. I also like the way Jones has stepped up.

madrigal writes:

MU might be wishing about now that they'd stayed in the Big 12.

RLL59 writes:

in response to jt45:

You do realize their overguarding was a defensive strategy to keep uncontested 3 point shots to minimum and it worked as far as their shooting percentage goes. They did get a little loose late in the second half but really not worth criticizing after playing sound BB for most of the game.

Yes, I agree that was the strategy for the game, and a good one because the penetrating guards had nowhere to go with the ball and were afraid of Izzy blocking their shot. it's just not a good strategy for every opponent, and I've been commenting in recent games that they have been playing a more controlled game on defense.

And I also agree with your point about not criticizing them for the second half. It was the coaching staff that criticized a lack of effort.

RLL59 writes:

in response to voloffaith:

Sorry coaches comments were annoying to you. That being said I'm sure you realize game plans are designed to fit the opponent. This one has a strong perimeter game with a lil post play thrown in. Thus the overplay on the guards(ie see Auburn stats vs Mizz) was predicated on their strengths. That being said we would not employ that same game plan on a team that chunks it into the paint 75% of the time. Although we would work hard on their guards to deny the entry pass's. So defensively the game plan varies game to game based on the adversaries strengths and weaknesses.....Game Planning 101 is now over for the day students...

I apparently didn't make it clear that I agree that the overguarding strategy was the right one against this type of team. I wasn't criticizing the coaching nor the players.

Somehow I get the feeling that you think the kind of repetitious blaming of Lady Vol players every time the opponent improves their defense or offense is beneficial to the team. We disagree on that. I've rarely seen a group of players that put in the effort the current Lady Vols display.

r2d2 writes:

in response to maxvolfan#217855:

outside of Uconn and Baylor , i believe this team can compete with any team in the country. i still think its going to take perfect strategy, a perfect game, and a little bit of luck to knock those two giants off. it can be done. i love the short bench. good team win through streaks. i kills the will of a team. i wished we would have had Izzy for that Baylor game . Griner scored the first 10 point of the game setting the rout. she was available against Stanford but not 100% against Chiney O. now its time take care of business against FL

What about Notre Dame? They defeated UCONN, albeit by 1 point, but they defeated them. I do not believe the LVs had a chance against Baylor even with a healthy Izzy. No one will beat Baylor with a healthy Brittney Griner and Odyssey Sims.

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