The Tennessee Lady Volunteers returned home Sunday afternoon after back-to-back road games to defeat the Ole Miss Rebels 97-68 at Thompson-Boling Arena.
No. 12 Tennessee (19-5, 10-1 SEC) capitalized on sharp shooting and an early string of Ole Miss turnovers to take a 16-2 lead over the Rebels with 14:07 remaining in the first half.
"I thought it was a great win for us," head coach Holly Warlick commented. "We had a lot of people who were able to get good minutes, good, solid minutes. Our defense as always can get a little better, but I thought we competed and that was the one thing I put on the board ... ."
However, the Rebels would not go down that easily. Three consecutive Tennessee turnovers and an offensive effort led by junior guard Diara Moore allowed the Rebels to narrow the lead to 10 points before a technical foul was called against the Tennessee bench.
Ole Miss freshman Gracie Frizzell made both free throws and led yet another offensive charge, cutting the Tennessee lead to five points with six minutes remaining in the first half.
A steal and layup by junior Meighan Simmons rallied the Lady Vols to a 9-4 run to finish the first half with a 40-27 lead over the Rebels.
Ole Miss forced two turnovers and scored five unanswered points to begin the second half, but Tennessee regained control and never looked back, cruising to a 97-68 victory on their home court.
Moore led Ole Miss (8-15, 1-9) with 16 points. Frizzell added 12 and Danielle McCray scored 11 for the Rebels.
Simmons led Tennessee with a double-double, finishing with 24 points and 10 rebounds. Bashaara Graves added 19 points, Nia Moore and Taber Spani each added 12, and Kamiko Williams added 11 points for the Lady Vols.
Tennessee continues to play without freshman Andraya Carter and sophomore Isabelle Harrison, both sidelined due to injury.
"(The injuries) pretty much force everybody else to work twice as hard," Simmons said. "It's an adjustment with the new coaches and everything, but I feel like this team has really taken everything in. We've made some mistakes here and there, but we've just kept moving forward no matter what adversity hits and I think that's what makes us completely different."
Despite the win, the Lady Vols are not yet content with their performance.
"We had 19 turnovers and they had 20 points off of our turnovers," senior Taber Spani said. "We're not satisfied. We're excited about this win and that we can hopefully get our legs back before we play Vandy, but we have a lot of work to do still."
Warlick acknowledged that there is work to be done controlling turnovers, but she was pleased with her team's effort on the court.
"That is way too many (turnovers) for us," she said. "We didn't have enough steals. We turned it over, but we shot 59 percent and so we could have had more. A turnover for us is just less of an opportunity to get a basket and we've got to clean it up. It gets us in trouble — it got us in trouble with LSU. We just have to value the basketball a little better."
The next game for the Lady Vols will be a home-court rematch against Vanderbilt on Sunday, Feb. 17, at 5:00 p.m.