No. 9 Tennessee breezes past Alabama 96-69

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 20, 2013 at 3:12 pm •  Published: January 20, 2013
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"I think Holly's done a great job stepping into her role, especially stepping into Pat's footsteps," Alabama coach Wendell Hudson said. "She's done a great job and has them playing at a very high level."

Tennessee's 39-game winning streak over Alabama is tied for the second-longest active streak in any conference rivalry. Stanford has beaten Pac-12 rival Washington State 53 straight times. UCSB has 39 straight wins over Cal State Fullerton in the Big West.

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 Crimson 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.

Alabama 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 of 15 Thursday in a 75-66 victory at Auburn, teamed up to shoot 10 of 10 and score 23 points in the first half.

"We just couldn't get our shots off (against Auburn) and it was just horrible for us," Graves said. "We wanted to come out the Alabama game and make up for that game. I think we did that."

Graves and Harrison stayed hot in the second half as Tennessee put the game out of reach. Graves ended up shooting 9 of 11, while Harrison was 4 of 7 from the field and 6 of 6 from the free-throw line. Tennessee's inside strength made up for the fact it shot just 1 of 11 from 3-point range.

"It was a big factor," Horn said. "They're really long. They were able to get some rebounds and putbacks. They were pretty good players. I respect them."

Tennessee opened the second half on a 15-5 run and never looked back. After that 15-5 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. And they had no answers Sunday for a red-hot Tennessee team motivated to honor its former coach.

"We just wanted to make sure we represented UT and Pat in the fashion that we needed to," Warlick said.