Tennessee Ariel Massengale, right, battles for the ball with Alabama's Jasmine Robinson in the first half of their game on Sunday in Knoxville. (AP Photo)
KNOXVILLE — Bashaara Graves had 19 points and eight rebounds Sunday to help the No. 9 Tennessee women's basketball team trounce Alabama 96-69 for its 39th consecutive victory over the Crimson Tide.
Meighan Simmons had 16 points for the Lady Vols (15-3, 6-0 Southeastern Conference), who earned their eighth straight win overall. Isabelle Harrison, Jasmine Jones and Taber Spani each added 14 points.
Daisha Simmons scored 19 points, Kaneisha Horn added 14 points and Shafontaye Myers had 12 points for Alabama (11-7, 1-4).
Alabama hasn't beaten the Lady Vols since an 85-66 victory in the 1984 SEC tournament. Tennessee leads the all-time series 46-2 and has never lost to the Tide during the regular season.
Most of those Tennessee wins over Alabama came when Pat Summitt was coaching the Lady Vols. Sunday was the last day of the SEC's "We Back Pat" week to support former Summitt's foundation and its fight against Alzheimer's disease.
Tennessee coach Holly Warlick, who worked on Summitt's staff for 27 seasons, and each of her assistants wore orange "We Back Pat" T-shirts under their blazers for the game. Before the game, Tennessee's coaches and players crossed the width of the court to hug Summitt, who was seated in the front row at midcourt.
The 60-year-old Summitt stepped down as Tennessee's coach in April after winning 1,098 games and eight national titles in 38 seasons. She was diagnosed in 2011 with early-onset dementia, Alzheimer's type. Summitt remains on staff as head coach emeritus, attends just about every practice and watches each home game from the stands.
During the game, Summitt received checks totaling $32,145 toward her foundation from Sam's Club, the SEC women's basketball officials and the Knoxville News Sentinel.
Alabama's lack of success in this series didn't bother the Crimson Tide in the early going. The Tide capitalized on Daisha Simmons' hot shooting and Tennessee's turnover problems to pull ahead early. Simmons scored 12 points in the first seven minutes of the game.
Tennessee took the lead for good at 20-18 on Harrison's layup with 10:20 left in the first half, but the Tide didn't go away immediately. Alabama was within five points until the Lady Vols closed the half on a 14-5 run to take a 49-35 lead into the intermission.
The Tide just couldn't slow down Tennessee.
The Lady Vols shot 62.9 percent (22-of-35) in the first half. Harrison and Graves, who had shot a combined 3-for-15 Thursday in a 75-66 victory at Auburn, teamed up to shoot 10-for-10 and score 23 points in the first half.
Tennessee opened the second half on a 15-5 run and never looked back. After that spurt, the Lady Vols led by at least 20 points the rest of the way.
Alabama has given up over 90 points in three of its last five games. The Tide fell 91-52 at Texas A&M on Jan. 3 and 95-83 to Georgia on Jan. 10.comments powered by Disqus