KNOXVILLE — A sensational opening three games of the 2015-16 season by Tennessee’s Bashaara Graves earned the senior her first-ever SEC Women’s Basketball Player of the Week nod on Tuesday.
Graves, a 6-foot-2 forward from Clarksville (Clarksville H.S.), actually shared the honor with Texas A&M’s Courtney Walker. The UT standout had not drawn weekly honors from the league since she was named SEC Freshman of the Week four times in 2012-13.
Hitting 30 of the 34 shots she took, Graves led Tennessee to a 3-0 week against a pair of 2015 NCAA Tournament teams in #25 Syracuse and Chattanooga (ranked #24 until Monday) and vs. Penn State, a team that has been to 25 NCAA tournaments and was a 2014 Sweet 16 participant.
She opened her final collegiate campaign with three consecutive double-doubles to tie for the SEC lead among active players in that stat category with 24 for her career. That total ranks No. 9 in UT history.
In achieving three consecutive double-doubles for the third time in her career, Graves connected on 20-of-24 field goal attempts for a blazing 83-percent and was perfect from the free throw line at 10-of-10. She leads the SEC in both statistical categories thus far, is second in rebounding and sixth in scoring.
Graves began the season hitting her first 16 shots from the field, making it 17 field goals in a row without a miss, dating back to last year’s Spokane Regional championship game vs. Maryland. It was a run of 91:57 in game time without a miss.
In her opener vs. Penn State, Graves matched her career best in points, firing in 24 on 8-of-8 perfection from the field and 8-of-8 marksmanship from the line. That 16-for-16 jewel ranks as the best shooting performance ever recorded by a Lady Vol. She also pulled down 13 boards, picked up two steals and blocked a shot.
Her hot shooting continued vs. Syracuse, as Graves nailed her first eight field goal attempts before finally misfiring with about a minute to go in the game. She again hit double figures in rebounding, pulling down 10 vs. the Orange to go with two assists, a block and steal.
On Monday night, Graves turned in her third double-double of the week in the 100th start of her career, tallying 10 points and 11 boards in what turned out to be a nip-and-tuck affair with Chattanooga. She added three key steals and assist as UT held off a furious Mocs comeback in the second half to extend an overall home win streak to 26 games and a home spree vs. unranked teams to 42.
Graves moved onto UT’s all-time leading rebounders list with her efforts this week, crossing the 800-rebound plateau and standing No. 17 with 805.