With only four games left in the regular season for the No. 8 Lady Vols, one player in particular is taking it all in and gearing up for the final stretch of her collegiate career.
Lone senior Meighan Simmons realizes that her playing days are numbered at Tennessee, but that will not get in the way of her being able to have fun and give her best effort in order to try and help her team win yet another SEC title and UT's ninth championship.
"I'm trying to take it all day by day," Simmons said. "I'm enjoying every game as much as I can and not taking anything for granted.
"I want to do everything I can to make myself better for the betterment of the team. The final stretch is going to be fun."
While Simmons leads the team in scoring this year at 15.1 points per game and is shooting a career-high percentage from the field (.439), it took her a while to get into a groove this season.
Through the Lady Vols' first 17 games of the season, she only reached the 20-point plateau once and shot more than 40 percent seven times.
"I put a lot of pressure on myself at the start of the season because I knew there were going to be a lot of expectations to be upheld," Simmons said. "My teammates were there with me through the struggles to help back me up."
Now in her last eight games, in which her team has gone 6-1 in conference play, she has averaged 19 points per game, shot .514 percent from the field and scored more than 20 points on five different occasions.
"I think Meighan is really focused right now and understands it's a team effort," head coach Holly Warlick said. "At the beginning of the year she felt the weight of the team on her. I think she's moved past that. She's taking great shots and playing within our offense.
"She's playing with a lot of confidence and our players have a lot of confidence in her."
The Cibolo, Texas, native has had great success scoring the ball throughout her career, as she ranks eighth on the all-time scoring list in Lady Vols history with 1,865 points and is just 17 points behind Shekinna Stricklen for seventh place.
Out of all the stretches in her career she said she believes this scoring stretch has been her best.
"I think it has been my most consistent stretch," Simmons said. "I've had spurts, but I think I've turned into an all-around player. At this point and time as a senior it's the perfect time to have a long stretch and play with a lot of confidence."
Junior forward Cierra Burdick is one teammate who has seen that confidence shine in UT's senior leader.
"She's one of the best shooters in the country, no doubt about that," Burdick said. "We have some great plays to get her the ball. She's been doing a great job of creating shots for herself."
While the Lady Vols have notched their 39th season with 20 or more wins, Simmons admitted the team realizes it still has a long way to go if the Lady Vols want to defend their SEC title and potentially bring home a national championship to Knoxville for the first time since 2008.
"The coaches keep telling us to keep pushing and keep our pedal to the metal," Simmons said. "There's a standard now that we have to meet. Now we know what we are capable of and now we know what it means to play Tennessee Lady Vol basketball.
"When we go out there and play that type of basketball; it's so much fun and nothing can stop us if we play the type of basketball we are capable of."