AUBURN, Ala. — Meighan Simmons scored 20 points and No. 7 Tennessee pulled away late in opening Southeastern Conference play Sunday with a 73-52 victory over Auburn.
The Lady Vols (9-3, 1-0 SEC) closed the game on a 19-6 run to turn a tight contest into a blowout and win for the 27th time in the last 30 meetings with the Tigers (8-6, 0-1).
Shekinna Stricklen added 17 points on 5-of-18 shooting for Tennessee. Glory Johnson had 14 points and 13 rebounds and Alicia Manning scored 10 points.
Simmons had 13 in the second half.
Camille Glymph led Auburn with 21 points, making 5 of 10 from 3-point range.
The Lady Vols struggled from the field, shooting just 32 percent (21 of 65). However, they gave Auburn fits on the boards and with a trapping defense that often forced the Tigers into hurried shots with the shot clock ticking down.
Tennessee forced 25 turnovers and had 12 steals, and the Lady Vols dominated in rebounding 49-31.The Lady Vols turned a 31-29 halftime lead into a 14-point cushion midway through the second half.
Auburn managed to cut the deficit in half with Glymph hitting back-to-back 3s to make it 53-46 with 8 minutes to play.
Then, Tennessee hit 7 of 8 free throws over the next 3 minutes to spark a 9-0 run and all but put the game away.
The Lady Vols went 28 of 31 from the line to help overcome the poor shooting night.
They were coming off a 90-37 win over Old Dominion to rebound from a 17-point loss to No. 4 Stanford. It’s the first time Tennessee has entered January with three losses since the 2004-05 season.
Auburn was playing its third game in four days after going 1-1 at the Sun and Fun Classic in Miami. The Tigers have lost all three games against ranked teams and are 2-6 in SEC openers under coach Nell Fornter.