On “We Back Pat” day at Thompson-Boling Arena, Tennessee honored their legendary coach Pat Summitt with a complete 96-69 victory over Alabama. The No. 9 Lady Vols have won eight games in a row overall and stand at a perfect 6-0 in the SEC and 15-3 overall.
Tennessee had it most points in an SEC game since trouncing Alabama, 110-45 on Jan. 6, 2011.
The Lady Vols have won 39 consecutive games in the series with Alabama, tying the second-longest active streak in the NCAA. Only Stanford has beaten Washington State more times in a row, 53.
Freshman Bashaara Graves tallied 19 points to lead the Lady Vols. It marked the 15th time in 18 college games she scored in double-figures. Graves also corralled a team-best eight rebounds as the Lady Vols outrebounded the Crimson Tide, 50-38. UT also outscored Bama, 50-32 in the paint.
Five Lady Vols scored in double-figures for the fourth time this season. Junior Meighan Simmons had 16, while sophomore Isabelle Harrison, senior Taber Spani and freshman Jasmine Jones all scored 14 points. It was a career-high for Jones. Sophomore Ariel Massengale added eight points and handed out six assists.
Tennessee shot a 54.3 from the floor, just shy of a season-best 56.8 vs. Rice, back on Nov. 15.
Alabama (11-7, 1-4 SEC) was led by Daisha Simmons, who scored 19 points.
The entire coaching staff and players greeted Summitt prior to the game with hugs and well wishes as she sat in her normal seat at mid-court across the from the team benches. The Pat Summitt Foundation has continued to raise awareness in the fight against Alzheimer’s and Sunday’s game concluded a week of “We Back Pat” games in the SEC. Several presentations and donations were made to the Pat Summitt Foundation throughout the afternoon.
Summitt was named the team’s Head Coach Emeritus on April 18, 2012, as Holly Warlick took over as the team’s new head coach. Warlick has led Tennessee to a sensational start in her first season at the helm of the most-storied program in the sport.
Up by 14 at halftime, the Lady Vols continued to pull away in the second half as the hot shooting continued. The lead reached 20 less than four minutes into the second half. A 3-point play by Spani with 16:09 left in the game, put UT up 62-40.
The lead ballooned to 27 on a Massengale jumper with 12:38 left to make it 73-46. UT hit the 80-point plateau on a Massengale free throw with 10:28 on the clock. Nia Moore’s short jumper put UT ahead 91-61 with 5:28 left in the game.
Tennessee shot a blistering 62.9 percent from the floor in the first half to hold a 49-35 lead. The shooting percentage was the highest by the Lady Vols in a first half all season. The 49 points also equaled the most points in a first half as UT also scored 49 vs. North Carolina on Dec. 2, 2012.
Graves (13) and Harrison (10) each had double-figures at halftime.
Graves and Simmons converted back-to-back layups to put the Lady Vols lead to 10 at 35-25 with 5:38 left in the first half. Another layup by Graves gave UT a 41-30 lead with just over two minutes left in the first half.
The Lady Vols used an 8-0 run to take a 24-18 lead on a Taber Spani jumper with 9:16 left in the half.
Alabama held a 17-14 lead on a Daisha Simmons layup with 13:22 left in the first half.
The Crimson Tide took advantage of five early turnovers by the Lady Vols to hold a lead. Alabama did not commit a turnover for the first 10 minutes of the game.
The Lady Vols return to action on Thursday night as Tennessee travels to Vanderbilt for a 9 p.m. ET tip-off. That game will air on SportSouth and ESPN3 and can be heard on the Lady Vol Network.