KNOXVILLE – Tennessee’s Lady Vols stayed perfect in Southeastern Conference play with an 88-45 victory over Mississippi State on Thursday night at Thompson-Boling Arena.
The No. 9 team in the country moved to 17-4 overall and 8-0 in league play. The Bulldogs dropped to 9-12 overall, 1-7 in the SEC.
Junior Meighan Simmons tallied a game-high 21 points, her 18th game this season in double-figures including the last 10. It was also her seventh game this season with 20-plus points.
“It was a great win for us and good to get back on the winning side, especially in the SEC,” Tennessee coach Holly Warlick said. “We got a chance to play a lot of players, some like Nia (Moore) and Jasmine Phillips who hadn’t gotten a lot of playing time. I thought we did some good things with them there, and we’ve just got to build on it and get ready for Missouri on Sunday.”
In her first start in two years, senior Kamiko Williams posted her second-career double with 10 points and a career-high 13 rebounds. She also had a career-high six steals and tied her career high with six assists.
“I think Jasmine (Jones) is more comfortable with coming off the bench,” Warlick said in explaining why Williams earned the start. “She and I talked about it, and I talked to Kamiko as well and came to the conclusion that it would be good to get Kamiko to start because she has experience. Jasmine likes to sit and watch and see how the game progresses before coming in, so we went with Kamiko.”
Senior Taber Spani netted 15 points and hauled down seven rebounds. She has scored in double-figures in eight of the last nine games. Spani is averaging 14.3 points and 5.3 rebounds in SEC play.
Freshman Bashaara Graves had 10 points and seven rebounds. He 18th game in double-figures this year.
In her return to action after missing the last eight games with a fractured hand, sophomore Cierra Burdick played 16 minutes and scored four points.
The 43-point margin of victory was the fifth largest of the season. Tennessee beat both Alcorn State and Rice by 53 points and both North Carolina and Missouri by 45.
The Lady Vols won their 34th consecutive game against Mississippi State-every meeting between the teams. Only four games have been decided by five points or less. The 34 wins rank as the seventh-longest active streak in any series in the NCAA.
The Bulldogs were led by Martha Alwal, who had 16 points.
The win was the eighth wire-to-wire win this season and third in SEC play.
The Lady Vols played without Isabelle Harrison, who was injured in Monday’s game vs. No. 2 Notre Dame. She is still being evaluated as far as when she will return from her left knee injury.
Tennessee heads to the road for its next two games as it takes on Missouri on Sunday at 2 p.m. (CSS/ESPN3) and LSU on Thursday at 9 p.m. (CSS). Both games as always can be heard on the Lady Vol Network.