Knoxville, TN – Tennessee opened the game on a 19-2 run and never looked back as the Lady Vols cruised to their 10th wire-to-wire win of the year, 83-61, over Auburn. Tennessee (21-5, 12-1 SEC) increased its first-place lead in the conference to a full game over Kentucky (11-2 SEC).
Bashaara Graves UT Lady Vols
Five Lady Vols scored in double-figures, the seventh time this season that has occurred.Junior Meighan Simmons led Tennessee with 24 points. She also recorded a career-high five steals.
Sophomore Cierra Burdick posted her fourth career-double and third this season with 15 points and a career-high 13 rebounds.
Senior Taber Spani tallied 16 as she knocked down 4-of-5 from trifecta land.
Freshman Bashaara Graves notched her 23rd game in double-figures with 14, in her 26 collegiate games.
Sophomore Ariel Massengale handed out a season-high 10 assists to go along with 10 points for her first-career double-double. It marked the third time this year the Lady Vols had a pair of players with double-doubles.
3-pointers were a huge story for the Lady Vols as they hit on a season-best nine-of-20.
The win was Tennessee’s 15th consecutive at home against the Tigers. The Lady Vols have won every game in Knoxville vs. AU since 1989. All-time the Lady Vols lead the series, 38-10.
Making It Rain
Taber Spani ignited Tennessee’s offense with deadly 3-point shooting in the first half of the Lady Vols’ matchup against Auburn, and Meighan Simmons picked up right where she left off.
Spani, one of two Tennessee seniors, opened the game with a defensive rebound off a missed Auburn jumper and made the first basket for the Lady Vols: a 3-pointer. She finished the first half making 4-of-6 for 11 points and was perfect from beyond the arc, hitting 3-of-3.
“I have to start strong and bring the leadership from the beginning,” Spani said. “Everybody on this team has their role, and it’s up to me to be the vocal leader and lead by example as we learn and grow as a team.”
Spani went off again five minutes into the first and hit her second 3-point shot of the half from the left corner to give the Lady Vols a 10-2 lead, as the forward scored eight of the team’s first 10 points. Auburn followed up with a timeout to try and cool Spani down to regain their composure.
Right out of the gate, Simmons hit back-to-back 3-pointers, and Auburn was forced to call another timeout. With 13:40 left in the half, Ariel Massengale joined in on the action with a 3-pointer of her own, and Simmons added on another trey following an Auburn jumper to make it 22-5.
“It’s so much fun to play with Meighan,” Spani said. “She was a great ‘energizer bunny’ for us tonight. We had a couple of connections out there tonight. We both looked to make the extra pass, so I think that lead to good things tonight.”
Simmons finished the first with 13 points and made 3-of-6 from 3-point range. She also contributed three steals in the first half alone.
“I’ve been trying to let the offense come to me as the game goes and not force it,” Simmons said. “But my 3-point shot is such a big part of my game, it has definitely been something I’ve been working on.”
Spani finished the first half in similar fashion to the way she started it. With just under a minute to go, Simmons assisted Spani on another 3-pointer from the left corner to give the Lady Vols a 23-point lead going into the half.
SectionsAnnouncements, Basketball (Women), NCAA, Southeastern Conference, Sports, University of Tennessee
TopicsAriel Massengale, AU, Auburn, Bashaara Graves, Cierra Burdick, Kentucky, Knoxville, Knoxville TN, Lady Vols, Meighan Simmons, Taber Spani, Tennessee, Three Pointers, Tigers