KNOXVILLE — Meighan Simmons scored 24 points and four of her teammates also reached double figures Sunday as No. 12 Tennessee rolled to a 97-68 victory over Mississippi.
The Lady Vols shot 59.4 percent (38 of 64) and beat the Rebels for the 24th consecutive time. Ole Miss (8-15, 1-9 Southeastern Conference) hasn’t beaten Tennessee since a 78-72 victory on Feb. 4, 1996.
Bashaara Graves had 19 points and 11 rebounds for Tennessee (19-5, 10-1). Taber Spani and Nia Moore each added 12 points, while Kamiko Williams had 11 points. Spani hadn’t scored and Moore hadn’t played at all in Tennessee’s last game, a 64-62 victory at LSU on Thursday. Moore’s 11 points represented a career high for the freshman center.
Diara Moore scored 16 points, Gracie Frizzell had 12 points and Danielle McCray added 11 points for Mississippi, which lost for the ninth time in its last 10 games.
Tennessee entered the day leading the SEC with 78.3 points per game while Mississippi was allowing a league-high 70.1 points per game. Mississippi also ranked at the bottom of the conference in field-goal percentage defense (.437).
Sure enough, the Lady Vols posted their highest shooting percentage of the season and made two-thirds of their attempts in the second half. Of the nine Lady Vols who played, sophomore forward Cierra Burdick was the only one who didn’t make at least half her shots. Burdick went 2 of 6 and scored six points.
Tennessee also outrebounded Mississippi 46-27.
The Lady Vols led the entire first half and owned a 40-27 lead at the intermission, but their inability to take care of the ball helped keep the game relatively competitive. Tennessee raced to a 16-2 lead before the Lady Vols started getting in their own way.
They committed 19 turnovers — 11 in the first half — and even were called for a technical foul when six players took the floor after a timeout. That carelessness helped Ole Miss get back into the game for a little while.
After trailing by as many as 17 points, Ole Miss went on a 16-4 run and cut the lead to 28-23 on Frizzell’s three-point play with 5:52 left in the half.
But the Rebels wouldn’t get any closer. Simmons scored seven points during a 12-4 Tennessee run that closed the half.
However, Ole Miss wouldn’t go away immediately. The Rebels cut the lead to eight after scoring the first five points of the second half on a 3-pointer from Danielle McCray, a steal by Courtney Marbra and a layup by Diara Moore.
That’s when Tennessee started to wear the Rebels down.
Graves scored six points during a 16-4 run that extended Tennessee’s lead to 20, and the margin wouldn’t drop below 17 points again.