Tennessee rolls to 83-62 victory over Oral Roberts

Updated at: 03/23/2013 3:09 PM
By STEVE MEGARGEE

(AP) KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - Meighan Simmons scored 18 points, and the Tennessee Lady Vols defeated Oral Roberts 83-62 on Saturday in their first NCAA tournament game of the post-Pat Summitt era.

Tennessee, the No. 2 seed in the Oklahoma City Regional, advanced to a second-round game against No. 10 seed Creighton (25-7). The Bluejays defeated Syracuse 61-56 in their tournament opener.

The Lady Vols (25-7) got points from all 10 players and improved to 51-0 in NCAA tournament games on their home floor.

Cierra Burdick and Ariel Massengale both scored 13 points for Tennessee, and Bashaara Graves added 11 points.

Kevi Luper scored 20, and Taylor Cooper and Savanna Buck had 15 each for Oral Roberts (18-13).

Tennessee is 49-1 in first-round and second-round games. The Lady Vols have played in every NCAA tournament since the event started in 1982 and have lost in the first two rounds just once, falling to Ball State in a 2009 opening-round game.

All of those wins came under Summitt, who stepped down last April after leading Tennessee to eight national titles and 18 Final Four appearances in 38 seasons. Summitt had announced in 2011 that she has early-onset dementia, Alzheimer’s type. Summitt has remained on staff as head coach emeritus.

Holly Warlick, who played for Summitt and worked as an assistant on her staff for 27 seasons, took over the program and led Tennessee to a Southeastern Conference regular-season title. She is trying to lead Tennessee to its first Final Four appearance since its 2008 national title.

That championship run included a 94-55 first-round victory over Oral Roberts. In that game, Oral Roberts lost its leading scorer soon after the opening tip when Mariana Camargo injured her knee.

The Golden Eagles were a little more competitive this time.

Oral Roberts led for the first three minutes Saturday before Tennessee pulled ahead for good with a 15-3 run that turned a 7-5 deficit into a 20-10 advantage. Simmons scored Tennessee’s first 10 points during that spurt, including a 3-pointer that broke a 7-7 tie.

The Golden Eagles continued to hang around for most of the first half and cut Tennessee’s lead to 29-24 on Taylor Cooper’s two free throws with 5:42 left before halftime. Tennessee answered with a 9-2 run and led 44-31 at the break.

Tennessee shut Oral Roberts down the rest of the way.

Oral Roberts missed its first 11 shots in the second half before Christian Key sank a 3-pointer with 14:16 remaining. Tennessee reeled off 11 straight points to open the half and eventually led by as many as 26 points.

(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)