For 30 minutes of the game, Tennessee didn't deserve to win. They started the scoring with a three by Simmons, but went cold and fell behind 11-3 early. For most of the game, they trailed Auburn by at least five points and were facing a twelve point deficit with 15 minutes left. Thanks to a couple quick layups by Spani, a free throw by Graves, a two and a three by Simmons, and a four minute scoreless streak by Auburn, the Lady Vols managed to pull within three with 10:35 left in the game.
From that point forward, the Lady Vols found their offensive confidence and outpaced Auburn, with a few late Auburn scores actually closing the gap at the end. But for 25 to 30 minutes, the Tigers were playing better basketball and looked to have the upset in their grasp.
This is why Tennessee is so pleased to have Simmons on the team. Her 15-points-on-19-shots nights are the price they pay to have her go off for 29 points on 14 field goal attempts (6-8 from two, 4-6 from three, 5-5 from the stripe) and save them when everybody else is struggling. The posts really suffered on offense: 1-7 from Graves and 2-8 from Harrison should have been a death knell for this team. But their 11 rebounds apiece helped Tennessee keep their edge on the glass (35-31) and gave Tennessee the extra possessions necessary to find a win on another off night.
- 14 assists, 19 turnovers. Only barely outperforming Auburn's 14 assists and 20 turnovers. Let's call it a wash and never speak of it again.
- 21 Auburn fouls to Tennessee's 13. It only led to a four point differential in free throws, but the extra possessions really helped out. Auburn also played with three starters in deep foul trouble in the final minutes, which seemed to take the air out of their sails.
- Ouradad fouled out, and Tanner and Davis each had 4 fouls.
- All five Auburn's starters scored double figures.
- Meighan Simmons led the team with 6 turnovers. But her offense was worth that cost.
- This team really, really needs Burdick back. For depth, if nothing else.
This time, it's easy: Simmons scored 29 points and saved Tennessee's bacon. Most of the second half run was Simmons, and 29 points on 14 FG attempts is outstanding on any night. She also drew several key fouls (including a couple on Ouardad) and held herself to only two fouls all night. It was really a stellar Simmons night, and she wins the 'sticks.
Other than that, the Lady Vols get a bit of a rest as they head home for a match against Alabama on Sunday. They're far better in TBA than on the road, and they could use the break. They can enjoy the 5-0 SEC start that ties them for first against Kentucky, but they absolutely have to find some consistency if they want to make noise in the Tournament.