published Tuesday, December 17th, 2013

No. 3 Lady Vols trounce Tennessee State 94-43

  • photo
    Tennessee forward Bashaara Graves, top, shoots over Tennessee State forward Chelsea Hudson (30) in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Knoxville.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

KNOXVILLE — Bashaara Graves scored 17 points to lead five Lady Vols in double figures and No. 3 Tennessee trounced Tennessee State 94-43 to continue its fastest start since its 2007-08 national championship season.

The Lady Vols (10-0) have won each of their games by at least nine points. Tennessee also started 10-0 in 2007-08.

Tennessee will put its perfect record to the test Saturday at No. 6 Stanford. The Lady Vols' only previous game against a Top 25 opponent was an 81-65 victory Nov. 11 at No. 14 North Carolina, which was ranked 12th at the time.

Graves made all six of her shots from the floor and was 5 of 6 from the free-throw line. Meighan Simmons added 13 points. Cierra Burdick, Isabelle Harrison and Mercedes Russell had 12 points apiece.

Rachel Allen scored 12 points for Tennessee State (3-8).

Tennessee sprinted to a 14-1 lead in the first four minutes and never looked back. The Lady Tigers missed 23 of their first 26 shots and trailed 42-9 with 6½ minutes left in the first half.

Tennessee State shot just 1 of 22 from 3-point range and was 14 of 74 overall.

Tennessee State had won its last two games by double digits, over North Florida and NAIA program Martin Methodist, but the Lady Tigers were facing an entirely different level of competition Tuesday.

A look at the rosters underscored the challenge facing Tennessee State.

Tennessee State didn't have a single starter taller than 6 feet. Six of Tennessee's 10 players are 6-2 or taller. The Lady Vols were coming off a 103-64 victory over Troy in which they had pulled down 74 rebounds, the second-highest total in school history. Tennessee entered the night with a plus-15 rebound margin, while Tennessee State was at minus-6.7.

The Lady Vols seemingly could do whatever they wanted Tuesday. At one point, Tennessee guard Simmons tossed an inbounds pass off the backside of a Tennessee State player and retrieved the ball for an easy layup.

All nine of Tennessee's healthy players scored at least six points. A facial injury prevented sophomore forward Jasmine Jones from playing.

In the teams' two previous, the Lady Vols also breezed to easy victories: 114-63 in 1985-86 and 104-51 in 1987-88.

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