KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee coach Holly Warlick finally encountered a school that has faced more injury problems than her own team.
Meighan Simmons scored 17 points and was one of five Tennessee players to reach double figures Sunday as the 12th-ranked Lady Volunteers defeated injury-riddled Vanderbilt 83-64 to clinch their 37th consecutive 20-win season.
Tennessee (20-5, 11-1 Southeastern Conference) hasn't failed to win at least 20 games since going 16-11 in 1975-76. This latest victory gave Tennessee a half-game lead in the SEC standings over No. 11 Texas A&M (20-5, 10-1), which hosts No. 9 Kentucky (22-3, 10-2) on Monday.
"(Vanderbilt's) lost some key players, and I understand it because we have, too," Warlick said.
Tennessee lost guard Andraya Carter to a season-ending shoulder injury in December and is currently playing without starting center Isabelle Harrison, who underwent knee surgery on Feb. 1. Vanderbilt (16-9, 6-6) is playing without three players projected as starters in the preseason.
The Commodores played a second straight game without 2011-12 SEC scoring leader Christina Foggie, who injured her right knee last weekend against Kentucky. Vanderbilt guard Kady Schrann missed her third consecutive game with an ankle injury. Vanderbilt has played the entire season without center Stephanie Holzer, who dislocated a knee in a preseason exhibition.
Vanderbilt got more bad news Sunday when starting forward Tiffany Clarke got sick at halftime and didn't play in the second half after scoring seven points and pulling down five rebounds in the first 20 minutes.
"I don't know what else could go wrong," Vanderbilt coach Melanie Balcomb said.
Both teams wore different shades of pink uniforms Sunday in honor of Tennessee's annual "Live Pink, Bleed Orange" game to raise breast cancer awareness and support the Kay Yow Cancer Fund. Warlick gave a special pink game ball to her sister, Marion Ferrill, who underwent a double mastectomy last fall. Ferrill's cancer now is in remission, and she has attended each of Tennessee's home games this season.
"To see her there, that's a survivor," Warlick said. "Absolutely, (was it) emotional? Yes. I gave her the ball and said she's my greatest hero. As we're battling a game, we're concerned about a game. That's a battle of life."
Vanderbilt's lack of depth eventually wore the Commodores down, though they made Tennessee work for the victory.
Ariel Massengale scored 14 points, Bashaara Graves had 13 points and Jasmine Jones and Taber Spani each added 12 points for Tennessee, which shot 55 percent (33 of 60) from the floor.
"It just shows we are a team and everybody does their role out there," Simmons said of the balanced scoring. "Everybody's capable of scoring in double digits. When everybody gets their chance to get out there and shine, that's when the team shines the most."