KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Three days after losing to Mississippi State for the first time ever, Tennessee maintained its long-running domination of a different Southeastern Conference foe.
Jaime Nared scored 17 points and matched a career high with 10 rebounds as the 19th-ranked Lady Volunteers trounced Alabama 70-42 on Sunday for their 42nd consecutive victory over the Crimson Tide. Te'a Cooper also had 17 points and Mercedes Russell added 12 points and 13 rebounds as Tennessee (13-8, 4-4) avoided its first three-game losing streak since February 1986.
"My only message to them today was to play hard, give great effort," Tennessee coach Holly Warlick said. "I thought we did just that."
Tennessee had lost at No. 12 Kentucky and No. 13 Mississippi State by a combined three points over the last week, putting the Lady Vols at risk of falling out of the Top 25 on Monday for the first time since February 1985.
Mississippi State beat Tennessee for the first time in 37 attempts.
"I just wanted to win," Nared said. "We've been in a little slump obviously. We lost the past two games and I think we just needed to get back to the fundamentals and doing what we all know how to do to the best of our capabilities."
Meoshonti Knight scored 11 points for Alabama (13-9, 2-7). Alabama hasn't beaten Tennessee since an 85-66 triumph in the 1984 SEC tournament.
Tennessee played without usual starting forward Bashaara Graves, who had a walking book on her left foot. Warlick said Graves sprained her ankle in Saturday's practice.
"She could have possibly maybe have gone today, but I didn't want to chance it," Warlick said. "Just give her time to rest."
Nared went scoreless against Mississippi State and shot 1 of 6 at Kentucky, but she had Tennessee's first nine points of the second quarter Sunday. Cooper, who made her first start since Nov. 29, had Tennessee's first 12 points of the third period.
"On a day like today, I think you credit Tennessee," Alabama coach Kristy Curry said. "Obviously they had a tough week last week. I thought they bounced back with an exclamation point."
Alabama: The Tide remained winless in true road games this season. Alabama is 11-2 at home and 2-0 on neutral sites but 0-7 in true road games.
Tennessee: The Lady Vols' 42 consecutive victories over Alabama represent the third-longest active winning streak by one NCAA Division I team over a conference opponent. Stanford has beaten Washington State 60 straight times and Liberty has defeated Coastal Carolina 45 straight times.
DeSHIELDS' STRUGGLES CONTINUE
Tennessee's Diamond DeShields shot 1 of 10 and scored just two points to go along with six turnovers. DeShields, who tweaked her ankle in a practice early last week, has nine turnovers and five points over her last two games. She also had eight turnovers in the game before hurting her ankle.
Warlick said after the game that "I think Diamond is pressing." DeShields, the Lady Vols' leading scorer, was coming off the bench for a second straight game.
"She's just got to get her mind right and focus on this team and not what she's struggling with or how she's playing," Warlick said.