Before every game this season, senior guard Meighan Simmons has stepped off the hardwood, embraced one of her favorite fans and then returned to the court for the opening tip.
That special fan is UT head coach emeritus Pat Summitt.
It was only fitting that the team's lone senior led the way in the No. 11 Lady Vols' 89-69 victory over the Florida Gators at Thompson-Boling Arena on Thursday's "We Back Pat" night.
With Summitt in mind, Simmons produced her second-straight 20-point game as she poured in a game-high 21 points and connected on five of Tennessee's 10 made 3-point shots.
"The game gave me some extra oomph today knowing that it was Pat's day," Simmons said. "I think that was the mentality for a lot of us and we just went out there and we played hard. We knew that if we were going to go out there and play we had to fight for her because it was her special day."
Sophomore forward Bashaara Graves also had a big night on the offensive end as well, scoring 17 points on 7-of-8 shooting from the field.
After appearing timid the past few games while dealing with calf and back injuries, the former SEC Freshman of the Year established her presence early on.
With 14:23 left to play in the first half the Clarksville, Tenn., native battled through her defender and a foul to hit a driving layup off a pass from Cierra Burdick.
"My teammates got me the ball and I got some easy points," Graves said. "I have to keep being consistent and keep playing my game."
She then went on to convert the 3-point play opportunity, and along with redshirt freshman guard Andraya Carter, the two combined for 15 of their team's first 18 points to lead by a dozen.
"(Graves) played with a lot of confidence and that's what we needed from her," UT second-year head coach Holly Warlick said. "She didn't back down and she battled. That's the Bashaara that played for us last year and it was good to see her back."
At all costs, the Lady Vols seemed determined to avoid a second half collapse like the one the squad suffered Monday night against No. 2 Notre Dame – a game they lost by 16, but led by as many as 12 in the first half.
The Gators (13-6, 3-3 SEC) showed a glimpse of making a comeback and cut the deficit to eight points after Antoinette Bannister's layup capped a 14-3 run with 12:21 left to play.
With the team's third leading scorer out, sophomore forward Jasmine Jones stepped up and scored six straight points to give the Lady Vols a comfortable 67-53 lead with 7:53 left from claiming their fourth SEC win of the season.
Jones scored 13 points to match her season-high.
"They made that run and then Jasmine Jones hit some big shots for us," Warlick said. "When they cut it we stepped up and made plays."
Simmons – one of five Lady Vols to score in double figures – hit her fifth 3-pointer and third of the second half with 7:48 left to play. She was then promptly pulled with five minutes left and her team up by 16.
The next matchup for the Lady Vols will be this Sunday on the road against No. 17 Texas A&M, who is currently undefeated in conference play.
"Any win for us right now is huge," Warlick said. "It's a team builder and it's a confidence builder.
"Tonight we got back on track."