Lady Vols cruise to exhibition win in Warlick's debut - | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Lady Vols cruise to exhibition win in Warlick's debut

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WRCB/UT) -- Holly Warlick took her usual seat on the Tennessee bench at Thompson-Boling Arena, but there was one very big difference.

With head coach emeritus Pat Summitt watching behind the bench, the 20th-ranked Lady Vols cruised to a 104-44 exhibition win over Carson-Newman in Warlick's on-court debut as Tennessee's new head coach.

"It hit me when she wasn't there for the pregame," Warlick said about Summitt's absence on the bench. "I walked out and saw her sitting behind the bench. Yeah, it was at first very strange, but then I snapped back to it and got to reality and understand what I'm doing and why I'm here.

"It was different, but it's Tennessee basketball and what I've been doing and what I've been trained to do. I had a little brief moment and then I had to come back to reality."

The reality is the Lady Vols still have plenty of talent for Warlick, including junior Meighan Simmons, who led all scorers with 24 points.

In all, five Tennessee players scores in double figures, with sophomore Isabelle Harrison next at 19 points to go along with seven rebounds.

With Warlick, not Summitt in their ear, the Lady Vols played with their trademark intensity while racing to a 47-15 halftime lead.

"Of course, it's going to be different. Different is not necessarily a bad thing; it's just different," said senior forward Taber Spani of Warlick's debut. "This is the first time we have ever had to go through something like this, but I thought Holly did a great job. We all believe in her 110 percent.

"Pat is still pulling for us too no matter where she is at, so it helps that we know that."

The Lady Vols outscored Carson-Newman 54-6 in the paint and destroyed the Eagles on the glass with a 55-32 rebounding advantage.

Freshman Bashaara Graves had a double-double with 17 points and 15 rebounds in her first game as a Lady Vol. Fellow newcomer Jasmine Jones tallied 16 in her debut in Orange & White, making the first six of her field goal attempts.

Spani netted 11 points, while Sophomore Cierra Burdick had a well-rounded game with nine points, seven rebounds and six assists.

"I was pleased with our freshmen and what they did," Warlick said. "I will say this about the group for the most part: they work hard. That's been my biggest concern: are we going to play hard? I'm trying to get us to understand that we will make mistakes but we've got to get back and play defense.

"As long as they play hard and give the effort -- which I think this group does for the most part -- I'm going to be pleased."

The Lady Vols return to action Sunday as they play the second of their two exhibition games against Coker College of South Carolina. Tip-off is set for 2 p.m. ET at Thompson-Boling Arena.

Tennessee officially opens the 2012-13 regular-season next Friday, Nov. 9 as the Lady Vols travel to Chattanooga to take on the Lady Mocs at 7 p.m.

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