Tennessee crushes No. 7 Kentucky
Simmons’ season-high 25 points paces Lady Vols’ rout of Cats
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Meighan Simmons scored a season-high 25 points and No. 13 Tennessee routed No. 7 Kentucky 91-54 on Monday night.
Shekinna Stricklen added 18 points for the Lady Volunteers, who shot 59 percent while holding Kentucky to 33.3 percent and held a 45-27 rebounding advantage.
Tennessee (18-7, 9-3 Southeastern Conference) never trailed. Simmons hit consecutive 3-pointers to make it 10-2 and blocked a 3-point attempt by Keyla Snowden at the other end, one of six rejections by Tennessee in the first half.
|TOP 25 SCORES|
|No. 2 Connecticut 73, Oklahoma 55|
|No. 13 Tennessee 91, No. 7 Kentucky 54|
|Minnesota 64, No. 16 Nebraska 58|
The Wildcats (21-4, 10-2) pulled within 21-16 on a steal by Azia Bishop and a transition layup by Bernisha Pinkett with 9:20 in the first half, but they wouldn’t get any closer. The loss marked the first time this season Kentucky has lost consecutive games.
Vicki Baugh scored on a putback and was fouled by Bishop. She missed the free throw but charged through the lane and converted the rebound that put Tennessee up 29-18.
Those baskets launched a 14-0 run by the Lady Vols across a 3:21 stretch. During that time, Kentucky missed two free throws and two shots from the field and turned the ball over four times.
Tennessee led 46-28 at halftime after shooting 60 percent. Both teams had 10 turnovers, but the Lady Vols had scored eight more points off giveaways than the Wildcats.
Tennessee’s lead reached 40 points with 4:37 to play.
Bria Goss led the Wildcats with 15 points. A’dia Mathies, who scored 34 points in the last meeting with Tennessee, had 12 and Pinkett finished with 10.
Even with the loss, Kentucky, which hasn’t played since a 61-51 loss at LSU on Feb. 5, remains alone in first place in the SEC and Tennessee is second with two weeks left in the season. The Lady Vols would have had a shot at pulling into a tie with the Wildcats, but lost Thursday at Vanderbilt.
Kentucky snapped Tennessee’s 36-game SEC winning streak with a 61-60 victory in Lexington on Jan. 12.
That game turned out to be part of an uncharacteristic 5-4 stretch for Tennessee. After losing to the Wildcats, the Lady Vols dropped games at Notre Dame and Vanderbilt and lost to South Carolina at home, their first SEC home loss in nearly four years.
During that stretch, Stricklen, a preseason All-America and Tennessee’s leading scorer for the season, has shot just 41.8 percent while the usually sharpshooting Simmons has shot just 37.2 percent.
This time, Simmons was 10 of 17 from the field and had three 3s, while Stricklen was 8 for 12.