KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- The defense that carried Texas A&M to a top-10 ranking let the Aggies down Thursday night.
Isabelle Harrison scored 21 points and Cierra Burdick had a double-double as No. 7 Tennessee trounced the ninth-ranked Aggies 81-58 for their ninth consecutive victory.
Tennessee shot 33 of 63 against a Texas A&M defense that was leading the nation in field-goal percentage defense (.323).
"Too many of the points were too easy," Texas A&M coach Gary Blair said. "All of a sudden, we'd be in front of them, and they'd go up and shoot an uncontested 15-footer and we'd be late with a contest. We've got to do better than that. We've got to limit some touches. We're supposed to be a decent half-court defensive team, but if you don't have the effort, the X's and O's don't work."
That's a message Blair sent to his players as they head toward the meat of their SEC schedule.
"Coach talked to us before the game about toughness," said Texas A&M guard Courtney Walker, who led all scorers with 25 points. "I think that's something we have to have. Nobody is 100 percent right now. It's freezing outside. School is about to start. We have to listen and lock in before the game and be tough to play through it."
The Aggies (14-3, 2-1 Southeastern Conference) apparently weren't quite locked in Thursday, because they never even managed to grab a lead.
Harrison got Tennessee (13-2, 3-0) off to a fast start by scoring the Lady Vols' first eight points. Harrison totaled five points in Tennessee's previous two games while playing limited minutes due to foul trouble. She committed only two fouls Thursday.
"It is really fun to see when your best player is putting up points and moving and doing the things that she is capable of doing," Tennessee coach Holly Warlick said. "It is nice to see and it gets us in a rhythm. I think it frees us up on the perimeter and outside as well. I can't remember too many bad shots that we took tonight."
Harrison got plenty of help.
Burdick shot 7 of 9 and had 14 points, 11 rebounds and six assists without a turnover. Ariel Massengale also had 14 points, eight during a 14-0 run that put the game away.
Tennessee earned its third win over a top-10 team this season. The Lady Vols also beat Stanford 59-40 when it was ranked seventh and Oregon State 74-63 when it was ranked 10th last month. Oregon State is 11th and Stanford 15th in the current rankings.
Texas A&M: Sophomore center Jada Terry made her ninth start of the season and first since Dec. 21. She had eight points and two rebounds.
Tennessee: The Lady Vols earned their 14th straight home victory. They haven't lost at Thompson-Boling Arena since falling 75-71 to Kentucky on Feb. 16.
PLAYING WITH A HEAVY HEART
Tennessee guard Andraya Carter played one day after learning her grandmother died. Carter had six points and four assists without a turnover.
"Obviously, that's one of the toughest phone calls you can get," Burdick said. "Myself and Ariel were actually there when she got it. Draya's one of our sisters. This is a family, and when one of our family members loses a member of their family, it feels like we lose (one) as well."
Warlick has 900 wins as a member of Tennessee's coaching staff. She owns a 69-16 head coaching record in her third year on the job after spending 27 seasons as an assistant under Pat Summitt. "It's good to be an assistant under Pat Summitt," Warlick quipped.
Texas A&M hosts LSU on Monday.
Tennessee plays at Arkansas on Monday.
- Scott Yarbrough
- Mary Day
- Brian Garland