Tennessee coach Holly Warlick's team was put to the test Sunday night as a pesky Georgia Tech team entered Thompson-Boling Arena with hopes of staging an upset victory.
But once again the No. 4 Lady Vols passed an early season test as their frontcourt dominance helped UT overcome a second-half push by the Yellow Jackets en route to an 87–76 victory.
"Georgia Tech is a very good team and very athletic," Warlick said. "We played hard and we finished the game. It was a very good win for us."
The frontcourt duo of junior center Isabelle Harrison and sophomore forward Bashaara Graves provided the difference.
Graves not only tied her career-high in scoring and assists with 23 points and five assists, but the former SEC freshman of the year also registered a personal best 18 rebounds.
"She really did it all tonight," Warlick said. "She couldn't have done much more for us tonight. At one time I thought she was guarding everybody on the court, and she even brought the ball up on the court. She showed she is much more than a one-dimensional player."
Her other counterpart did damage as well as Harrison notched her first double-double of the season with 10 points and 18 rebounds.
It was the first time in UT history two players have registered career highs in rebounds in the same game.
"It was incredible," Warlick said of her team's post play. "When you have two kids that have 18 rebounds apiece, that's the difference in the game.
"You get a lot of second-chance points off of those rebounds. That's just heart and desire to go in and rebound."
Unlike in their home opener against UTC, the Lady Vols (4-0) were boosted by a strong start in the first half as they came out energized.
Graves showcased her size advantage and strength early on, capping a 9-2 run to start the game by powering through defenders and finishing with a left-handed layup.
In the first half she recorded nine of her 14 offensive rebounds in the game, which Tennessee had 33 of on the night.
"I wanted to come in tonight and rebound to the best of my ability, and that's what I did," Graves said. "My mindset was to play aggressive, and I wanted to come out and play with a greater intensity."
Despite trailing by as many as 18 points in the first half, the Yellow Jackets (2-1) fought back and closed the deficit to nine points at halftime.
"I gave them my halftime speech before the game," Warlick said jokingly. "I think we got comfortable, and we can't do that. We started quick shooting the basketball, and we didn't play time and possession.
"We could be really good if we put together a complete game, and we haven't done that yet."
It was the Yellow Jackets that came out with a spark to begin the second period as Kaela Davis had the hot hand.
In a span of just under three minutes of action, the sharpshooter accounted for 11 of her game-high 28 points and connected on three shots from behind the arc.
The scoring spurt trimmed UT's lead to five points.
The Lady Vols then found a solution as they brought in Cierra Burdick to guard Davis.
"The defense she played tonight was probably the best she's played in her career at Tennessee," Warlick said. "We asked her once Davis hit some shots to face guard and limit her touches and she did a great job with that."
Freshman center Mercedes Russell also scored in double figures with 14 points on 6-of-8 shooting.
The Lady Vols will host Oakland (Mich.) next Sunday night before they head to the Junkanoo Jam in Freeport, Bahamas over Thanksgiving break.