Lady Vols hold off No. 19 Georgia, 85-70

John Bazemore/Associated Press
Tennessee center Mercedes Russell (21) and Georgia forward Merritt Hempe (13) fight for a rebound in the first half of an NCAA women’s college basketball game, Sunday, Jan. 5, 2014, in Athens, Ga.

Photo by John Bazemore

John Bazemore/Associated Press Tennessee center Mercedes Russell (21) and Georgia forward Merritt Hempe (13) fight for a rebound in the first half of an NCAA women’s college basketball game, Sunday, Jan. 5, 2014, in Athens, Ga.

ATHENS, Ga. — What Isabelle Harrison started, Ariel Massengale finished for Tennessee on Sunday.

After Harrison scored all 18 of her points in the first half, Massengale took charge after halftime, reaching a career-high 28.

The combination was enough for Tennessee to score an 85-70 SEC women’s basketball victory over Georgia at Stegeman Coliseum

Massengale hit four throws in the final 1:10 to help curtail a 19-point scoring run by No. 19 Georgia (12-3, 0-2 SEC). The Lady Bulldogs cut a 27-point deficit to six points.

Harrison started off for No. 5 Tennessee (12-2, 1-1) by doing a decent impression of Chiney Ogwumike. Much like the Stanford All-American converted offensive rebounding into 32 points against UT last month, Harrison did the same in scoring 18 before halftime.

It was a good play for the Lady Vols to simply shoot the ball. Harrison cleaned up several misses and made free throws. The junior center was eight for eight from the line in the first half.

Tennessee’s halftime lead might have been bigger than 40-28 were it not for several bad plays, which resulted in 13 turnovers. They led to half of Georgia’s points.

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Comments » 18

Allenfan writes:

Well I will be first to comment. You tell me if you have ever seen a coach in high school, college, or even the pros allow a 27 point lead dwindle down to 6 without a timeout called. You can choose to agree or disagree but that borders on stupidity. Taking the air out with 7:35 on the clock, well you get the picture. I realize that we won a sec game on the road, but this woman masquerading as a coach on the sideline is absolutely ridiculous. You would think that one of the assistants would at least suggest a time out to regroup our girls. I still think it is going to be a long season, but I am a Lady Vols fan through and through, so I will keep watching.

underthehill writes:

The comeback was not something any team could expect..Georgia is throwing up low percentage 3 pointers and several hit the mark..and Holly thought everything was under control so she gave Carter a rest..Carter was back in when the comeback became a threat..the
Gator girls beating KY in Lexington is a surprise and means another SEC team is going to be tough..

ModelMaker writes:

in response to Allenfan:

Well I will be first to comment. You tell me if you have ever seen a coach in high school, college, or even the pros allow a 27 point lead dwindle down to 6 without a timeout called. You can choose to agree or disagree but that borders on stupidity. Taking the air out with 7:35 on the clock, well you get the picture. I realize that we won a sec game on the road, but this woman masquerading as a coach on the sideline is absolutely ridiculous. You would think that one of the assistants would at least suggest a time out to regroup our girls. I still think it is going to be a long season, but I am a Lady Vols fan through and through, so I will keep watching.

I totally agree with you. As Yogi Berra once said "It ain't over till it's over". I thought Massengale and Harrison were just fantastic. It was really enjoyable too watch those two play. But you know Allen, Holly took Massengale and Harrison out with 10:18 showing on the clock and did not put Massengale back in until 5:18 to play in the game. She did not put Harrison back in until there were 2:12 to play. The game was not over at the 10 min. mark. The game with LSU should have told Holly that. By taking out your best two players with over 10 min. to play teaches your players that the game is over with 10 min. to play and as we all saw it wasn't over. She can thank Ariel for bailing her out. I said before the season started that Ariel was the one that stirred the drink; and she hasn't proved me wrong. If Holly had utilized her players properly the Lady Vols would probably have had a lead of 25 to 30 points with 1:38 to play in the game. Oh buy the way that's when Graves got herself injured; she would not have even been in there.

RLL59 writes:

The effort was there this afternoon....by just about everyone. Real good game by both Ariel and Izzy. They would have beaten LSU had their defense been as good as it was today. There's still no cohesion on offense, and they made many high risk, ill advised passes. Not good enough to beat teams with close to comparable talent.

What has happened to Cierra's game?

wigmeister writes:

I know we won, but these coaches need to do a better job of coaching during the game. Like above, I also think the coaches blew it by thinking everything was in the bank early. Holly and her staff screwed up. I was taught to go for the jugular. Never let a team climb back in it with what they feel is a chance to win the game. Stupid coaching!

MaxVolFan writes:

Yes Holly loves to keep her TOs .. Why take them home with you? You let a team back in it when your team needed you for guidance. Lets Go coach! We have some tough games ahead of us. Get creative in the film room and devise some plays that will get this team motivated. I'm sorry but the ill advised passes trying to look cute has got to stop! Put your best five out there, feed Harrison the ball , Ariel run the floor with Carter playing primarily defense and the team will go far.

WaitUntilNextYear writes:

Simmons Jones and Graves have regressed, they are turnover machines. The LV's are lucky the conference is weaker or have more parity, your choice. The turnovers by the LV's are unforced, stupid, poorly coached and will undermine this team all year. They will never be championship caliber with the consistent inconsistent offense and turnovers.
Please teach Russell to jump and hustle. She doesn't like the physical game or sweat. Numerous times today the loose balls were ignored with no intensity to own the possession. Blocking out and fighting for the ball are lost in transition. Still to many gimmes by Georgia as the LV's were flat footed or lazy on drives in the lane.
Harrison, Massengale and Carter are stars that will carry this team to somewhere. Others are lazy and some are along for the ride. Where is the hunger to to strive for excellence and win a championship. It is more than a slogan.
Georgia is not a good or well coached team. Tennessee nearly sleep walked this one away after giving up 21 straight points.

underthehill writes:

Harrrison, Massengale and Carter are presently the best players..Carter being the best outside defender for her size in the history of UT Lady Vols basketball..the others are capable of stepping up their play some..Russell being the most likely..she did show more fight against LSU than in the Ga game..but she is a talented freshman who is going to get much better before this year is over..how do you coach a player like Simmons? talented when she is shooting..a liability in every other phase of the game..poor defender..even worse passing..or trying to pass..you have to demand she play basic basketball..no fancy passes.. be where you are supposed to be on defense at all times ..have her watch Carter on game film..Carter is the one player who is where she should be at all times..whether it is offense or defense..she had to learn this herself..it is something you don't coach....

RLL59 writes:

in response to underthehill:

Harrrison, Massengale and Carter are presently the best players..Carter being the best outside defender for her size in the history of UT Lady Vols basketball..the others are capable of stepping up their play some..Russell being the most likely..she did show more fight against LSU than in the Ga game..but she is a talented freshman who is going to get much better before this year is over..how do you coach a player like Simmons? talented when she is shooting..a liability in every other phase of the game..poor defender..even worse passing..or trying to pass..you have to demand she play basic basketball..no fancy passes.. be where you are supposed to be on defense at all times ..have her watch Carter on game film..Carter is the one player who is where she should be at all times..whether it is offense or defense..she had to learn this herself..it is something you don't coach....

You didn't mean to say that you can't coach where to be on defense or offense, did you? You can't coach quickness, or calculating where a rebound is likely to go, but you better coach positioning. Maybe that's the problem. Our players have to learn everything on their own.

Allenfan writes:

I just watched the post game interview with Holly. After mumbling through most of it (you would think she would do better after 28 years at UT), she stated that she was completely satisfied with the Ladies. She changed the defense with about 7 minutes to go in the game (big mistake), you would think she would realize it wasn't working after 8, 10, 12, 14 or even 16 straight points scored by Georgia. Well that's our coach or maybe I should say the women in charge.

underthehill writes:

in response to RLL59:

You didn't mean to say that you can't coach where to be on defense or offense, did you? You can't coach quickness, or calculating where a rebound is likely to go, but you better coach positioning. Maybe that's the problem. Our players have to learn everything on their own.

No..I did not mean to say you can't coach where to be on defense or offense..that is basic basketball that you have to coach most players to do..Carter is the exception..she seems to have a knack for being in position far better than most...and I agree you can't coach speed or where a rebound is likely to come off..Carter is quick and anticipates action not only on rebounds..but on the entire court..

MaxVolFan writes:

We lost two games which could have been won with a few adjustments. There's only maybe three teams in the country that has as much talent as our team yet we are playing timid, nervous and not a complete team. The SEC is the toughest conference in the league and our team will have a target on their back every game. Beating UT is every teams goal so the Vols have to remember we are not going to give up their reign as champions. If they do that then maybe they will find their toughness by the end of the year

CaptainPicard writes:

Yes, allowing another team to score 21 unanswered points from a 28 point lead is a terrible head coaching error. However, CHW is only in her second year as a head coach. She is going to make her mistakes. I think that next year will really give a clue as to whether she will be a good coach.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to CaptainPicard:

Yes, allowing another team to score 21 unanswered points from a 28 point lead is a terrible head coaching error. However, CHW is only in her second year as a head coach. She is going to make her mistakes. I think that next year will really give a clue as to whether she will be a good coach.

I have coached enough to know that no coach can satisfy everybody all the time. I continue to give Holly a bit of a pass out of respect to the enormous challenge she took on in following a legend. However, I have to agree with some on here who think she still has a ways to go to become a really accomplished game coach.

It seems to me that some of the careless ball-handling that has plagued this team from day one stems from Holly's apparent carelessness about prolonged periods of sloppy and/or lethargic play. As others have pointed out, she allowed the team to go something like six plus minutes without a point by the LVs, yet at no time did Holly see fit to call a timeout and grab a handful or two of jersey and tell some players to get on the stick!

And sorry to belabor the point, but this is the sort of thing that may be keeping the men's team from reaching its potential as well. I credit Martin for really opening up the offense, somewhat ironically, by giving them more set plays to run. The next step in Martin's evolution is the same as the one for Holly--cultivate a more demanding sideline manner and correct negative tendencies when they occur. There is only so much usefulness in showing players all the mistakes they made after the game is over. There is a place for IN-GAME corrections of various types, and all the winningest teams make them.

CaptainPicard writes:

in response to johnlg00:

I have coached enough to know that no coach can satisfy everybody all the time. I continue to give Holly a bit of a pass out of respect to the enormous challenge she took on in following a legend. However, I have to agree with some on here who think she still has a ways to go to become a really accomplished game coach.

It seems to me that some of the careless ball-handling that has plagued this team from day one stems from Holly's apparent carelessness about prolonged periods of sloppy and/or lethargic play. As others have pointed out, she allowed the team to go something like six plus minutes without a point by the LVs, yet at no time did Holly see fit to call a timeout and grab a handful or two of jersey and tell some players to get on the stick!

And sorry to belabor the point, but this is the sort of thing that may be keeping the men's team from reaching its potential as well. I credit Martin for really opening up the offense, somewhat ironically, by giving them more set plays to run. The next step in Martin's evolution is the same as the one for Holly--cultivate a more demanding sideline manner and correct negative tendencies when they occur. There is only so much usefulness in showing players all the mistakes they made after the game is over. There is a place for IN-GAME corrections of various types, and all the winningest teams make them.

You are very fair and accurate in your assessment of Holly's coaching, Johnlg00. I wish she could see your comments. I want to cry some time when I see a senior like Simmons make some of her careless-I don't-give-a-hoot plays. Holly just shakes her head but she does not correct Meighan right away. Burdick is right behind Simmons in making the same kind of amateurish plays.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to CaptainPicard:

You are very fair and accurate in your assessment of Holly's coaching, Johnlg00. I wish she could see your comments. I want to cry some time when I see a senior like Simmons make some of her careless-I don't-give-a-hoot plays. Holly just shakes her head but she does not correct Meighan right away. Burdick is right behind Simmons in making the same kind of amateurish plays.

Thanks for your kind words. I was predisposed to pay attention to a screen name like yours, life-long old SF nerd that I am!

As I have said many times before, having first-hand knowledge as a player and a coach, basketball players have the strangest mental/emotional makeup of any team-sport athletes. If you are going to insist that your players play to an almost-mythical standard, then you have to correct them as soon after making a mistake as possible. It is neither necessary nor desireable for a coach to constantly nitpick every player's every little flaw or breakdown, but it is possible for the coach to tell the player(s) beforehand what the team needs out of that player, and if we aren't getting it, you will hear about it!

I can't account for the apparent decline of the games of Simmons and Burdick. They would seem to have about as much in the way of talent to work with that anybody needs, but they just aren't making plays at the rate the team needs them to do. Maybe they just need more...something in the way of attention from the coaches. It's a shame when you have to baby junior and senior players that way, but, hey, you have to work with who you have at this point.

RLL59 writes:

in response to johnlg00:

Thanks for your kind words. I was predisposed to pay attention to a screen name like yours, life-long old SF nerd that I am!

As I have said many times before, having first-hand knowledge as a player and a coach, basketball players have the strangest mental/emotional makeup of any team-sport athletes. If you are going to insist that your players play to an almost-mythical standard, then you have to correct them as soon after making a mistake as possible. It is neither necessary nor desireable for a coach to constantly nitpick every player's every little flaw or breakdown, but it is possible for the coach to tell the player(s) beforehand what the team needs out of that player, and if we aren't getting it, you will hear about it!

I can't account for the apparent decline of the games of Simmons and Burdick. They would seem to have about as much in the way of talent to work with that anybody needs, but they just aren't making plays at the rate the team needs them to do. Maybe they just need more...something in the way of attention from the coaches. It's a shame when you have to baby junior and senior players that way, but, hey, you have to work with who you have at this point.

John, consider all the Lady Vol players since Candace. With the exception of Izzy, is there anyone who has shown improvement over time or lived up to their recruiting reputation? Is it just bad luck? It can't simply be bad recruiting, since player reputations aren't determined by Lady Vol coaches. Waiting for the next group of freshmen is becoming old. There's something more fundamental going on. Players shouldn't be regressing at 19 and 20 years of age....not all of them anyway. Those that run the program have to take responsibility, and stop blaming the players on a game by game basis.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to RLL59:

John, consider all the Lady Vol players since Candace. With the exception of Izzy, is there anyone who has shown improvement over time or lived up to their recruiting reputation? Is it just bad luck? It can't simply be bad recruiting, since player reputations aren't determined by Lady Vol coaches. Waiting for the next group of freshmen is becoming old. There's something more fundamental going on. Players shouldn't be regressing at 19 and 20 years of age....not all of them anyway. Those that run the program have to take responsibility, and stop blaming the players on a game by game basis.

I can't say you're wrong about any of this. I would only say that it happens in one way or another just about everywhere all the time. It is remarkable when a true team comes together, in part because it is so rare that they do so. The biggest flaw in recruiting only the highest rated players is that you never know if they have reached their peak in HS and have no room for improvement. More likely, they never learned what their weaknesses were and never worked in a concentrated way to correct them. It would be rather out of character for either Simmons or Burdick to not be working on the things that are bothering them, though. Since as you say, this has been going on for a long time, it would seem that a major shift in recruiting priorities may be considered at some point. Maybe recruiting more "players" and fewer "athletes".

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