Simmons helps Lady Vols edge Missouri

Published on NewsOK Modified: February 23, 2014 at 4:38 pm •  Published: February 23, 2014

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — Andraya Carter knew there was no reason to panic.

With Missouri closing in, Tennessee showed poise down the stretch to hold off the pesky Tigers 56-50 on Sunday.

"No, I don't think we were nervous," said Carter, who finished with eight points. "We actually just kept telling each other to stay composed. Just play our game, slow down, relax. We were going to be fine."

The 10th-ranked Lady Vols led by 16 with 11 minutes left before Missouri closed to 50-47 on Bri Kulas' layup with 1:22 left. It would have been easy for Tennessee to wilt, but the Lady Vols sustained the run and held on for the win hitting their free throws down the stretch.

Meighan Simmons scored 20 points, her fourth 20-plus performance in the past five games, and Mercedes Russell tied a career high with 11 rebounds to lead Tennessee (22-5, 11-3 SEC), which had lost at Missouri last season.

"There was definitely an extra edge," Simmons said. "We knew we didn't want to lose. We knew this was going to be a big game for us. We just decided to come out and just play hard."

Kulas finished with 22 points and Morgan Eye added 15 for the Tigers (16-11, 5-9), who only trailed by one point at halftime despite shooting 2 of 15 from 3-point range before the break.

Missouri, which ranks third in the country and first in the SEC with 9.5 3-pointers per game, missed its first nine 3s before Kayla McDowell's long-range attempt connected 9 ½ minutes into the game.

Only four players scored for the Tigers, who finished 7 of 32 from 3-point range.

"Our shots just weren't falling tonight," Kulas said. "But we're still going to continue to shoot those shots because we have confidence in ourselves and we know we can knock down those shots."

The schools met for the first time since Missouri upset then-No. 9 Tennessee 80-63 on Feb. 3, 2013. Officials announced attendance at 5,017, the highest this season for Missouri.