Simmons shot 12-of-22, including 9-of-11 in the first half. She scored her 1,000th career point by sinking a pair of free throws with 11:44 left in the first half, becoming the 37th Lady Vol to reach that plateau.
Isabelle Harrison added a career-high 18 points to go along with 11 rebounds for the Lady Vols (6-1), who now have two weeks off before returning to action Dec. 16 at No. 13 Texas. Cierra Burdick scored 15 points, Bashaara Graves had 11 points and Taber Spani added 10 points.
Xylina McDaniel scored 19 points and Waltiea Rolle added 13 points for North Carolina (7-1).
North Carolina headed into the day allowing only 54.3 points per game, but the Lady Vols nearly reached that mark by halftime. The Tar Heels hadn't given up more than 64 points in any of their seven wins.
Tennessee outplayed the Tar Heels in every phase of the game.
North Carolina owned a height advantage over Tennessee and had averaged a plus-9 rebound margin for the season, but the Lady Vols outrebounded the Heels 54-40. North Carolina committed 30 turnovers. Tennessee shot 37-of-77 from the floor and 6-of-14 from 3-point range while North Carolina was 21-of-61 overall and 1-of-11 from beyond the arc.
Simmons was the biggest difference maker.
The 6-foot-3 junior thrived on the fast pace North Carolina prefers. The biggest indication this was simply her day came with 4:06 left in the first half when her jumper hit just about every side of the rim before falling through.
Tennessee pulled ahead for good in the opening minutes with an 8-0 run that broke a 2-2 tie. The Lady Vols led by double digits for the last 33: 57 of the game. North Carolina briefly made a run that sliced an 18-point deficit to 10 with 6:07 left in the first half, but Tennessee went on an 11-0 run later in the half.
North Carolina scored eight straight points early in the second half to cut the lead to 16 as Tennessee cooled off, but the Tar Heels got no closer. Tennessee went on a 12-0 run later in the second half and never looked back.