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No. 7 Tennessee tops Auburn 73-52 in SEC opener

Tennessee forward Vicki Baugh (21) goes to the basket as Auburn's Jassany Williams (25) defends in the first half of their NCAA college basketball game in Auburn, Ala., Sunday, Jan. 1, 2012. Tennessee forward Vicki Baugh (21) goes to the basket as Auburn's Jassany Williams (25) defends in the first half of their NCAA college basketball game in Auburn, Ala., Sunday, Jan. 1, 2012. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)
By John Zenor
AP Sports Writer / January 1, 2012
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AUBURN, Ala.—Auburn frequently wound up in a hurry after struggling to get the ball across midcourt against No. 7 Tennessee's trapping defense.

The result was 25 turnovers, some errant shots and a 73-52 loss to the Lady Vols on Sunday in the Southeastern Conference opener for both teams.

"That gave us fits the entire second half," said Auburn coach Nell Fortner, whose team went into halftime down just two points. "I thought their pressure was very good. It slowed us down. By the time we got it broken and tried to run something, there's 14 seconds left on the shot clock.

"Now, you're really out of whack," Fortner said.

Meighan Simmons scored 20 points, 13 in the second half, for Tennessee (9-3, 1-0). The Lady Vols came into the game last in the league in scoring defense, giving up 63.5 points a game, but controlled the second half with defense.

"We just kept fouling and turning the ball over, doing unnecessary things we didn't need to do," Auburn's Tyrese Tanner said. "Instead of taking care of the ball and valuing it, we just lost it."

The Lady Vols closed the game on a 19-6 run to turn a tight contest into a blowout and win for the 27th time in the last 30 meetings with the Tigers (8-6, 0-1).

This time they earned a 34th-consecutive SEC win -- and a ride back to Knoxville.

"In the first half, our offense affected our defense," associate head coach Holly Warlick said. "We missed a lot of easy layups, and that in turn affected our defense. (Coach Pat Summitt) had a pretty stern talk with them at halftime and basically said they need to get their act together or they're walking home, in those condensed words.

"The second half we played hard on defense, got easy layups off of our turnovers, and that's what we need," she said. "We need to score off of our defense."

Shekinna Stricklen added 17 points for Tennessee but was just 5-of-18 shooting.

Glory Johnson had 14 points and 13 rebounds and Alicia Manning scored 10 points.

Simmons had 13 in the second half.

Camille Glymph led Auburn with 21 points, making 5 of 10 from 3-point range.

"Once I hit the first one I just tried to keep shooting," Glymph said. "They kept falling for me."

The Lady Vols struggled from the field, shooting just 32 percent (21 of 65) after coming in as the SEC's second-best shooting team. However, they gave Auburn troubles defensively and on the boards, dominating in rebounding 49-31. The Lady Vols turned a 31-29 halftime lead into a 14-point cushion midway through the second half.

Auburn managed to cut it in half with Glymph hitting back-to-back 3s to make it 53-46 with 8 minutes to play.

Then, Tennessee hit 7 of 8 free throws over the next 3 minutes to spark a 9-0 run and all but put the game away.

The Lady Vols went 28 of 31 from the line to help overcome the poor shooting night.

They were coming off a 90-37 win over Old Dominion to rebound from a 17-point loss to No. 4 Stanford. It's the first time Tennessee has entered January with three losses since 2004-05.

Auburn was playing its third game in four days after going 1-1 at the Sun and Fun Classic in Miami. The Tigers have lost all three games against ranked teams and are 2-6 in SEC openers under Fornter.

"They went into halftime feeling good about themselves and we were not really happy," Warlick said.

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