Lady Vols' Simmons and Stricklen earn SEC Awards

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (utladyvols.com) -- The Lady Vols swept the Southeastern Conference's weekly women's basketball awards on Monday with junior Shekinna Stricklen earning SEC Player of the Week and freshman Meighan Simmons capturing the SEC Freshman of the Week honor.

Stricklen averaged 17.0 ppg, 9.0 rpg and 1.7 spg in three wins last week. At No. 15/18 Kentucky on Feb. 7, the Morrilton, Ark., native recorded her eighth double-double of the season, tallying 20 points and 12 boards in the 73-67 victory. She followed with 17 points and six boards in the 61-39 win over Florida on Thursday before recording 14 points and nine boards in the 65-57 comeback win at Vanderbilt. She scored 12 points in the second half against the Commodores, as the Lady Vols erased a 13-point halftime deficit.

The honor is Stricklen's fourth career SEC POW award. She captured the accolade three times in 2009-10. On the season, the 6-2 guard/forward is averaging 12.2 ppg and 7.6 rpg - both second on the team. In SEC play, she has upped her scoring average to a team-best 14.3 ppg, while grabbing 8.5 rpg.

Stricklen joins classmate Glory Johnson (three times) as Lady Vols that have won the SEC POW this season.

Simmons was named the SEC Freshman of the Week for the third time of her inaugural campaign, after scoring 9.3 ppg and grabbing 1.7 rpg for the week. Against the Wildcats, Simmons scored 15 points and made some clutch shots down the stretch in the come-from-behind win in Lexington. Simmons' three with 4:25 left in the game put UT ahead, 65-61. She also increased UT's cushion to 71-67 with two clutch free throws with 15 seconds left in the contest.

Against the Commodores, Simmons again was ice-in-the-veins, swishing a trey with 5:54 left in the game to give UT a 44-42 advantage - and its first lead since being up 5-2 at the 16:01 mark of the first half. She followed with a key steal and a fastbreak bucket two minutes later. She finished with nine points and three assists.

Simmons the Only Freshman Named to the Naismith Midseason Top-30 List
Simmons also joined senior Angie Bjorklund on the 2010-11 Naismith Award Midseason List announced by the Atlanta Tipoff Club on Monday. Simmons was the only freshman selected for the 30-player list.

Bjorklund was named to the preseason list for the award, which will be given to the nation's top player on April 4 at the NCAA Women's Final Four in Indianapolis, while Simmons was added for the midseason list.

Simmons is averaging Lady Vol-bests of 14.2 ppg and 2.8 apg this season. She set a Lady Vol record with eight three-pointers in a game against Lamar on Dec.1 and scored double figures in the first 13 contests of her career. The 5-9 Cibolo, Texas native also dished a UT rookie record 11 assists versus Alabama on Jan. 6.

Bjorklund is the Lady Vols' all-time leader in three-pointers made with 283. The Spokane Valley, Wash., native is averaging 11.3 ppg in 21 games this season. She has missed the past five contests with a foot sprain.

The Lady Vols host South Carolina at 7 p.m. this Thursday in Knoxville.


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