Big Crowd Expected for Tigers Vs. Lady Vols

The unbeaten Auburn women's basketball game will take on Tennessee at Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum.

Auburn, Ala.--In what Nell Fortner says will be the biggest game of her Auburn coaching career, her Tigers will look to improve their record to 20-0 on Sunday with a home game vs two-time defending national champion Tennessee.

Auburn is the only undefeated team in SEC play at 4-0, but the 10th-ranked Lady Vols, who are 15-3 overall and 4-1 in the league, can move into first place with a victory over the Tigers.

Coach Pat Summitt's team has dominated everybody in the SEC over the years and has won 16th straight vs. Auburn. UT leads the overall series 32-8 as Summitt goes for her 999th career victory as a head coach.

Coach Pat Summitt

Tipoff time is 2 p.m. at Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum and Auburn officials are expecting the largest crowd ever for an AU women's home basketball game. The Tigers are riding the longest winning streak of any major college team, men or women, in the country.

Fortner says that she doesn't think Auburn's lack of success against the Lady Vols will be a negative for her veteran team for Sunday's game.

"I really think that you have to have a team that has some confidence about themselves and some experience in playing Tennessee and right now that is what we have," the coach says. "You don't have that every year with your team, but this year this particular team has it because I have three players on the floor that have started since they were freshmen and now they're seniors so they have a lot of history with Tennessee.

"They haven't beaten them, but they have stepped on the floor with Tennessee with a lot of experience, history, and they understand what is going on here," Fortner adds. "I think they will step on the floor Sunday with a lot of confidence, but not any kind of over-confidence, but they will be ready to play the game."

The Tigers feature senior DeWanna Bonner, who leads the SEC in scoring with 20.2 points per game. She leads the Tigers in rebounds with 8.6 per contest.

Senior point guard Whitney Boddie is scoring 10.0 points per contest and leads the SEC in assists with 8.1 per contest.

Alli Smalley

Another senior, guard Sherell Hobbs, is scoring 12.7 points per game for the Tigers and sophomore guard Alli Smalley is next with 12.6 points per contest. Auburn's other starter, senior forward Trevesha Jackson, is scoring 7.1 points and averaging 5.0 rebounds per game.

Tennessee is coming into Auburn following a 76-67 road win at Arkansas on Thursday while Auburn won a home game 84-66 vs. Alabama on Thursday night.

The Vols have just one starter back from last year's team that finished 36-2 on the way to winning Summitt's eighth NCAA title.

Freshman Shekinna Stricklen, a 6-2 guard/forward, leads the Vols in scoring with 13.4 points per game and is averaging 5.9 rebounds. Another freshman, Glory Johnson, a 6-3 forward, is scoring 12.0 points per game for the Lady Vols and is the top rebounder with 7.2 per contest. Sophomore Angie Bjorklund, a 6-0 forward, is averaging 12.5 points for UT.

"They are a little different this year than they were last year," Fortner says of the Lady Vols. "They graduated a lot from that two-time national championship team, but they have some tremendous, young talent. They are big, long, they can cover a lot of space and they have very good shooters. They just have a tremendous amount of talent, but just younger than what Pat Summit has had in the past."

Auburn, which is ranked fifth and sixth in the Top 25 polls, is the sixth ranked opponent for the Lady Vols this year, who are 2-3 in the previous matchups.

Auburn's 19-0 start matches the second best in Auburn history. The record is 28 straight wins to open the 1988-89 season a season the Tigers finished as the NCAA Tournament runnerup.

Whitney Boddie is a key player for the Tigers.

Doors open for the game at 12:30 p.m. and tickets are $5. As of Friday, approximately 6,000 tickets had been sold so there looks to be a good chance that the school record attendance of 7,105 for an Auburn women's home game will be broken.

The game will be televised regionally on CSS with Paul Crane and former Auburn head coach Joe Ciampi providing analysis. Auburn's largest crowd this season drew 6,090 fans to see the Tigers knock off No. 18 Florida 81-65.

The last time the Tigers defeated the Lady Vols was a 61-59 game in the 1997 SEC Championship Game in Chattanooga when Ciampi was coaching the Tigers.

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