Duke hosts No. 2 Tennessee in sold-out Cameron

It's rare for a defending national champion to have strong motive to take down another team, but that's exactly the situation No. 2 Tennessee finds itself in as it faces No. 10 Duke tonight at 7 p.m. in Cameron Indoor Stadium.

The Blue Devils (15-4) have beaten the Volunters in three consecutive seasons, twice on the road and once in Cameron when Tennessee was the top-ranked team in the country.

Not only has no one on the current Volunteer roster ever beaten the Blue Devils, but Tennessee head coach Pat Summitt also had some choice words for the actions of the Cameron crowd in the team's last visit to Duke. In a Jan. 23, 2006 game, the Crazies waved grocery bags and shouted "Wal-Mart" at guard Alexis Hornbuckle, in reference to her arrest for shoplifting from the discount chain. On Friday, Summitt told the Knoxville News Sentinel that she might end the series between the Blue Devils and the Volunteers (17-1) if the crowd took similiar personal shots again.

With a sellout crowd booked for the teams' fourth showdown in as many years, the harsh words from Summitt only add to what is already a "Big Monday" matchup between two top programs. Junior Abby Waner, coming off of a solid 15-point performance at Georgia Tech, noted the team's excitement coming into such a highly-billed contest.

"It's great for women's basketball," Waner said. "I'm really glad to be able to play in this kind of environment. Our fans-sellout crowd in Cameron-definitely add to the adrenaline."

Another element adding to the excitement of tonight's game is the challenge of containing college basketball's top player, Candace Parker.

Parker is averaging 21.1 points and 8.4 rebounds per contest, and the difficulty in defending her stretches beyond those stacked numbers.

"She's a very talented player," senior Wanisha Smith said of Parker. "She can do things on the inside and out, so the attention for her is good. But at the same time, she lives up to it."

For Duke to keep the game as close as it has in the past, the team needs a strong defensive effort on Parker. The versatile star is listed as a guard-forward-center and could pose huge matchup problems for the Blue Devils.

Center Chante Black said the Blue Devils have talked about limiting Parker's touches and forcing the Volunteers to look elsewhere for production on offense.

"She's a great player," Black said. "She's going to try to get off her shots, and we're just going to try to limit that."

Black will not only have to deal with Parker in the post, but also the three other players on the Volunteer lineup who are 6-foot-4 or taller. With big, physical players on both teams, the game could be won on the boards.

Head coach Joanne P. McCallie said winning the battle on the glass will be critical for her team if it wants to walk off the court with a win.

"We've been talking about rebounding an awful lot this year," McCallie said. "[Tennessee's] a terrific rebounding team-very, very physical and they really hit you hard."

Duke also has to work on not fouling the Volunteers. In the team's four losses this season, its opponents have gone to the free-throw line an astounding 127 times-including 42 trips in a loss at Maryland-compared to just 50 trips for the Blue Devils.

Particularly with Parker on the floor, the Blue Devils will need to position themselves well to reduce the number of fouls.

With all the ingredients for another great game in place, Duke hopes to send Tennessee's senior class-including Hornbuckle-home to Knoxville empty-handed one final time.


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