KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee hasn't started a season this well since its last national championship.
Bashaara Graves scored 17 points to lead five Tennessee players in double figures and the third-ranked Lady Vols remained unbeaten with a 94-43 victory over Tennessee State on Tuesday night.
The Lady Vols (10-0) have won each of their games by at least nine points. Tennessee also started 10-0 in 2007-08 before losing 73-69 in overtime to Stanford, which happens to be the Lady Vols' next opponent.
"We knew we were 9-0, and we knew we wanted to take another step to get to the national championship level," Tennessee guard Meighan Simmons said.
Tennessee will put its perfect record to the test Saturday when it heads west to face the sixth-ranked Cardinal. The Lady Vols' only previous game against a Top 25 foe was an 81-65 victory Nov. 11 at No. 14 North Carolina, which was ranked 12th at the time. They've outscored their 10 opponents by an average of 24.8 points.
"For the most part, we've played hard," Tennessee coach Holly Warlick said. "The opponent shouldn't matter. You're working on yourself and how you get better, and get better as a team."
Tennessee benefited Tuesday from a balanced attack.
Graves made all six of her shots from the floor and was 5 of 6 from the free-throw line. Simmons added 13 points. Cierra Burdick, Isabelle Harrison and Mercedes Russell had 12 points apiece. Rachel Allen also scored 12 points to lead Tennessee State (3-8).
All nine of Tennessee's healthy players scored at least six points. A facial injury prevented Jasmine Jones from playing against Tennessee State, though Warlick expects the sophomore forward back for the Stanford game.
"We definitely wanted to come out and play Lady Vol basketball," Burdick said. "That's something we've been struggling with in past games, playing down to our competition. We can't do that. We've got to come out and play to our potential every single night. That's the sign of a great team."
Tennessee sprinted to a 14-1 lead in the first four minutes and never looked back. The Lady Tigers missed 23 of their first 26 shots and trailed 42-9 with 6½ minutes left in the first half.