Lady Vols hold off Missouri, 56-50

Tennessee's Isabelle Harrison, left, and  Missouri's Jordan Frericks , right, battle for a loose ball during the first half of an NCAA women's college basketball game, Sunday, Feb. 23, 2014, in Columbia, Mo. (AP Photo/L.G. Patterson)

Photo by L.G. Patterson

Tennessee's Isabelle Harrison, left, and Missouri's Jordan Frericks , right, battle for a loose ball during the first half of an NCAA women's college basketball game, Sunday, Feb. 23, 2014, in Columbia, Mo. (AP Photo/L.G. Patterson)

COLUMBIA, Mo. Tennessee survived one of its worst offensive performances of the season with perhaps its best effort on defense.

The Lady Vols built a 16-point second half and needed almost all of it to survive an SEC women’s basketball upset scare from Missouri, winning 56-50 Sunday afternoon at Mizzou Arena.

The Tigers crept with 50-47 inside the final minute when UT got a key defensive stop.

Meighan Simmons led No. 10 Tennessee (22-5, 11-3 SEC) with 20 points.

Bri Kulas led Missouri (16-11, 5-9) with 22 points.

Tennessee did the job on defense at the outset.

The Lady Vols used a combination of presses and man defense to limit the Tigers to 22 first-half points.

The SEC’s most prolific 3-point shooting team was 2 for 15 from long range before the break and was shooting 28.6 percent overall (10 for 35).

Forward Kulas had 10 points but needed 15 shots for her production.

UT’s problems were on offense. The Lady Vols’ aim wasn’t much better than the Tigers, as reflected by their 35.5 percent shooting from the floor (11 for 31).

Their 10 turnovers added to their woes, resulting in six Missouri points.

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Comments » 20

WaitUntilNextYear writes:

Another very poor fundamental basketball game. Congratulations to the LV's for holding on after nearly throwing away this game after leading by 16.
The stupid plays leading to unforced turnovers has already cost this team the regular season SEC championship.
How they can be a #2 seed as poorly they play is mystifying.
I don't understand why the coaching staff is not obsessed with addressing the copious turnovers. The same players make the same mistakes every game.
This team does not handle adversity well, they were lucky today not good.

johndavid writes:

Up and down like the men's team. Will not have a chance against a top team as they make so many silly mistakes. We do not seem to get better which I think reflects upon our coaches. Do not have one player who brings it every game. Would love to see them play with some discipline.

norma-bob#1420407 writes:

Lack of mental and physical toughness. Poor decisions on passing the ball, I.e. passing to post with 3 defenders, passing bounce passes into the post players at their knees, etc. No rhyme or reason to their offense. Not sure if coaching or players thinking they know better than the coaches?

wigmeister writes:

Agree with all of the above.

underthehill writes:

Watched about the first 7 min..Burdick was having a terrible game on offense and defense..checked the stats and she played 37 min..the Lady Vols have too much depth for this..

rogatl2002#222395 writes:

The problem with the offense today had one name...Megan Simmons...almost every time the touched the ball she took a shot. She had been doing so much better with this the second half of this season but today she was back to her old out of control jack-up-a-shot every time self.

RLL59 writes:

in response to rogatl2002#222395:

The problem with the offense today had one name...Megan Simmons...almost every time the touched the ball she took a shot. She had been doing so much better with this the second half of this season but today she was back to her old out of control jack-up-a-shot every time self.

Cierra and Andraya again turned down nearly every open mid range and 3 point shot available to them. Who do you want to shoot from further than 3 feet out? I don't believe you really think they would have won this game without Meighan.

STLVOLS writes:

My wife and I were at game. Above article basically sums it up. There were at least 400 people in Orange supporting Vols. Same as last year. There were vehicles with Missouri plates and Lady Vol flags leaving parking lots. Mizzou Arena holds about 15,000. A significant number of UTK grads like me live in St. Louis metro area. Lady Vols need to play much better if they expect to go far in NCAA tourney.

rogatl2002#222395 writes:

in response to RLL59:

Cierra and Andraya again turned down nearly every open mid range and 3 point shot available to them. Who do you want to shoot from further than 3 feet out? I don't believe you really think they would have won this game without Meighan.

Never said Simmons should not shoot. She took a lot of bad shots today out of rhythm with the offense.

Theo writes:

in response to WaitUntilNextYear:

Another very poor fundamental basketball game. Congratulations to the LV's for holding on after nearly throwing away this game after leading by 16.
The stupid plays leading to unforced turnovers has already cost this team the regular season SEC championship.
How they can be a #2 seed as poorly they play is mystifying.
I don't understand why the coaching staff is not obsessed with addressing the copious turnovers. The same players make the same mistakes every game.
This team does not handle adversity well, they were lucky today not good.

Sunshine u r so predictable. If u weren't paying money for this I'd swear you were a troll.

RLL59 writes:

Same old, same old. Early on the forwards/center just wouldn't help out against drives to the basket. Missouri is a team that virtually doesn't score on the inside, but they did in the first half today. Memories game to game can't be that bad. Otherwise, the defense was good, and responsible for MO's low percentage on the 3's. Andraya is about the only one overguarding and she has the skills to do it.

Let's face it. Coach Holly is the only person in the arena or watching that doesn't know the opponent expects a required pass into the center after a Lady Vol timeout. At least in the second half, those instructions included passing the ball back out if you're triple teamed.

Why was Bashaara handling the ball at the top of the key with 1:39 left and the game still in doubt? That should never happen.

Izzy was still out of the game with 7:39 to go because of having 3 fouls...and ended the game with those same 3 fouls. The announcer, a former coach, even made a comment as to why she was still on the bench. If a player is going to sit out most of the game she might as well foul out and the team can at least get the benefit of her play for much of the game. When Izzy was in there, just like many other games this year, it was a whole different game on offense and defense.

We'll take a win, but this game did little to give fans or players hope that they'll go far in the tournaments. The starting five just have to see more time on the court together...whatever that takes.

RLL59 writes:

in response to rogatl2002#222395:

Never said Simmons should not shoot. She took a lot of bad shots today out of rhythm with the offense.

I agree. Meighan is most effective, and in control, when the offense is spread out, and not packing the middle, and the 1 and 3 positions are willing to take open shots. I'm still waiting for an offense in rhythm.

CaptainPicard writes:

in response to RLL59:

Same old, same old. Early on the forwards/center just wouldn't help out against drives to the basket. Missouri is a team that virtually doesn't score on the inside, but they did in the first half today. Memories game to game can't be that bad. Otherwise, the defense was good, and responsible for MO's low percentage on the 3's. Andraya is about the only one overguarding and she has the skills to do it.

Let's face it. Coach Holly is the only person in the arena or watching that doesn't know the opponent expects a required pass into the center after a Lady Vol timeout. At least in the second half, those instructions included passing the ball back out if you're triple teamed.

Why was Bashaara handling the ball at the top of the key with 1:39 left and the game still in doubt? That should never happen.

Izzy was still out of the game with 7:39 to go because of having 3 fouls...and ended the game with those same 3 fouls. The announcer, a former coach, even made a comment as to why she was still on the bench. If a player is going to sit out most of the game she might as well foul out and the team can at least get the benefit of her play for much of the game. When Izzy was in there, just like many other games this year, it was a whole different game on offense and defense.

We'll take a win, but this game did little to give fans or players hope that they'll go far in the tournaments. The starting five just have to see more time on the court together...whatever that takes.

Holly allows her assistants to make player substitutions. That is why Izzy was not in the game with 7:39 minutes left. I do not believe coaching assistants should make these kind of decisions.

CaptainPicard writes:

A number of commenters are knocking Meighan Simmons. She has her faults; however, she, Izzy and Andraya are the LVs most valuable players. The LVs would not have won this game without Meighan. You can make the same comment about some other wins also.

johnlg00 writes:

They won an SEC road game at a place where they got clobbered last year. Survive and advance. It is too late to correct the apparent mindset of a team that just does not value possession of the ball, in any sense, more than "Gee, how cool would it be if I could pull off THIS (stupid) pass/move?" Meighan is perhaps the worst at this right now, though Ariel had some of the same tendencies when she was playing. (And BTW, what is the word on her return?) They will just have to overcome this with better defense, which they did for most of the game yesterday.

As for the comment above about Cierra passing up shots, I didn't see that at all. There was one stretch where she missed about six open shots in a row that are normally well within her range. If she did pass up shots later, that was probably the reason. As for her long stint on the court, I'm not sure the LVs have another player who can do all the things she does when she is right. She is really the only small-forward type on the team, except maybe for Jasmine Jones, who played quite a bit yesterday, IIRC. However, she seems to have nowhere near Cierra's offensive potential right now, even when Jasmine is on her game and Cierra is not.

johnlg00 writes:

Looking at the box scores, Jones was 1-5 from the field, 2 rebounds, 0 assists, and 3 fouls in 18 minutes. Not a strong argument for her to replace Cierra, even when Cierra can't throw it in the ocean from off a pier (2-10 FGs).

RLL59 writes:

in response to johnlg00:

Looking at the box scores, Jones was 1-5 from the field, 2 rebounds, 0 assists, and 3 fouls in 18 minutes. Not a strong argument for her to replace Cierra, even when Cierra can't throw it in the ocean from off a pier (2-10 FGs).

John, I'm not one suggesting Cierra shouldn't be a starter or even that she should play less, but Jasmine is a much better defender than Cierra and contributed by keeping MO from having open shots and by disrupting their offense. I certainly agree that Cierra is better on offense. Both commit too many turnovers.

RLL59 writes:

in response to johnlg00:

They won an SEC road game at a place where they got clobbered last year. Survive and advance. It is too late to correct the apparent mindset of a team that just does not value possession of the ball, in any sense, more than "Gee, how cool would it be if I could pull off THIS (stupid) pass/move?" Meighan is perhaps the worst at this right now, though Ariel had some of the same tendencies when she was playing. (And BTW, what is the word on her return?) They will just have to overcome this with better defense, which they did for most of the game yesterday.

As for the comment above about Cierra passing up shots, I didn't see that at all. There was one stretch where she missed about six open shots in a row that are normally well within her range. If she did pass up shots later, that was probably the reason. As for her long stint on the court, I'm not sure the LVs have another player who can do all the things she does when she is right. She is really the only small-forward type on the team, except maybe for Jasmine Jones, who played quite a bit yesterday, IIRC. However, she seems to have nowhere near Cierra's offensive potential right now, even when Jasmine is on her game and Cierra is not.

Regarding passing up open shots, you're right and I was wrong. The passing up of shots really only occurred during the time in the second half when the LVs were determined to throw the ball into the center regardless of the defense. MO packed it in and waited for the errant pass.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to RLL59:

John, I'm not one suggesting Cierra shouldn't be a starter or even that she should play less, but Jasmine is a much better defender than Cierra and contributed by keeping MO from having open shots and by disrupting their offense. I certainly agree that Cierra is better on offense. Both commit too many turnovers.

I agree with most of this. Personally, I think Cierra has a better overall game than Jasmine at this point in her career, but she surely is a useful player who should only get better. Right now, I think Cierra has a better overall grasp of more different aspects of the game and lots more experience. The team needs both of them in the right roles and both could surely stand to tighten up in several phases of the game.

CaptainPicard writes:

I believe that Jasmine Jones, Mercedes Russell and Jordan Reynolds have the most upside of any the LVs. I don't know if anyone remembers but B. Stewart of UConn was a late bloomer in her freshmen year.

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