Cold shooting a big problem for Mizzou
By the Associated Press
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Meighan Simmons scored 18 points Thursday night and No. 9 Tennessee relied on suffocating defense to trounce Missouri 84-39 for its fifth straight victory.
Bashaara Graves added 16 points and eight rebounds for the Lady Vols (12-3, 3-0 SEC). Isabelle Harrison had 12 points and a career-high 15 rebounds, and Taber Spani scored 11 points.
Morgan Eye scored 18 points and shot 6 of 17 from 3-point range for Missouri (12-5, 1-2). Eye had gone 11 of 18 on 3-pointers Sunday in an 82-77 victory over Auburn, finishing one shy of the NCAA record.
Missouri set an SEC record with 18 3-pointers in the victory over Auburn, but shot just 19.7 percent (13 of 66) on Thursday. The Tigers were 9 of 36 from 3-point range and 4 of 30 on 2-point attempts.
The Lady Vols outscored Missouri 24-5 in points off turnovers, 22-0 in second-chance points and 21-2 in fast-break points.
Missouri entered the night averaging 10 3-pointers per game to lead the nation. The Tigers had to rely on 3s again Thursday because Tennessee made sure they got no opportunities near the basket.
The Tigers made just one basket from inside the 3-point arc in the first half. Missouri missed its first 11 shots from 2-point range before Bri Kulas scored off an inbounds pass with 3:58 remaining until halftime.
By the time Kula scored that basket, Tennessee already had put the game out of reach.
The Lady Vols never trailed and built a 48-21 halftime advantage by scoring nearly at will in the first 14 minutes. Isabelle Harrison almost had a double-double in the first half alone with nine points and 11 rebounds.
Tennessee cooled off significantly from there. The Lady Vols scored just six points in the final six minutes of the first half and missed nine of their first 10 shots in the second half.
But Missouri’s cold shooting prevented the Tigers from cutting the lead below 25 points. After going 5 of 14 from 3-point range in the first half, Missouri was just 4 of 22 from beyond the arc the rest of the way.
The Tigers continued firing away from 3-point range and could never get anything going inside the arc against a punishing Tennessee defense that showed its tenacity even after the game had long been decided.
The most obvious example of Tennessee’s defensive dominance came with less than eight minutes remaining, when Jasmine Jones recorded back-to-back blocks and led a fastbreak that resulted in a layup by Simmons that extended the Lady Vols’ lead to 69-31.
There’s no relief for the Tigers in their next game, when they face No. 6 Kentucky on Sunday, Jan. 13 at 12:30 p.m. at Mizzou Arena.