No. 20 DePaul vs. No. 7 Tennessee Preview

DePaul women's basketball head coach Doug Bruno and Tennessee women's basketball head coach Pat Summitt have together won over 1,500 collegiate games. And with Summitt already in the Hall of Fame and Bruno to eventually follow, Sunday's match up between the two teams in the Maggie Dixon Classic at Madison Square Garden will be a basketball strategist's dream.

Tennessee lead the series 18-0, with the most recent meeting a 78-63 win in 2004. The closest DePaul has gotten to the Lady Vols was a 96-89 overtime loss in 2003.

DePaul's Keisha Hampton and Tennessee's Shekinna Strickland are the only two current Division I players to have started at least 110 consecutive games.

DePaul At a Glance

The No. 20 Blue Demons (7-1), Sweet Sixteen qualifiers one year ago, are led by All-American selection Hampton and Big East scoring leader Anna Martin. Hampton, averaging 17.8 ppg, has shown her brilliance with a career-high 32 points in a win over Northwestern and an ability to dominate games. Martin, averaging 20.8 ppg, is shooting 58 percent from the floor and 55 percent from behind the arc. DePaul ranks first in the Big East in three-point field goals made (10.3 per game) and in three-point field goal percentage (38 percent). The Blue Demons are second in the Big East in assists per game (16.7).

Tennessee At a Glance

The No. 7 Lady Vols (4-2), Elite Eight qualifiers one year ago, are led by Strickland (16.8 ppg, 8.7 rpg) though the team boasts four players who are averaging double figures in scoring (Glory Johnson at 12.8 ppg and 9.5 rpg, Taber Spani at 12.5 ppg and Vicki Baugh at 10.0 ppg and 7.0 rpg). All four are 6'1" or taller. Starting point guard Ariel Massengale had been averaging 7.2 ppg and 5.8 apg, but she will sit out Sunday's game with a dislocated finger. Spani is recovering from a strained knee, but she is expected to play.

DePaul Wins Sunday Because...

Shooting well from outside, specifically the three-pointer, has driven the Blue Demons this year. DePaul tied a school record with 16 three-pointers in a win against St. Mary's and has made 10 or more three-pointers in four games this year. Hampton's and Martin's continued success from the outside will be needed to draw Tennessee's defenders to the perimeter.

DePaul has had its share of injuries, with reigning Big East 6th Man of the Year Taylor Pikes out with a knee injury and freshman phenom Chanise Jenkins out with a foot injury. Pikes not playing certainly hurts DePaul's attempts to match the Lady Vols rebounding prowess. The Blue Demons will need a solid contribution both offensively and in rebounding from 6'3" post, Katherine Harry.

The loss of Jenkins has forced freshman Brittany Hrynko to play the point, something she has done very well this year. Hrynko's quickness has allowed her great penetration, and should she be able to continue that against Tennessee, that should open things up outside for Hampton and Martin.

Tennessee Wins Sunday Because...

The front line continues to do what it has been doing. Strickland has been stellar this year, scoring 25 points and grabbing 12 rebounds in a 76-67 loss to No. 1 Baylor. The Lady Vols have outrebounded their opponents by an average of 49-37 per game. The loss of Massengale hurts Tennessee, but if its front line continues to play the way it has been playing this year, it may be a long afternoon for DePaul.

The Lady Vols average 77 ppg, while holding opponents to 63 ppg. DePaul is 51-1 when scoring 90 points or more. The Lady Vols' three point defense has been equally tough, holding opponents to 25 percent shooting from behind the arc.


If Bruno and Summitt each had their way, this game would be a three-point bonanza for one and a war of attrition for the other. But 1,500 wins are achieved by adapting. And which team adapts the best may well be the key to winning Sunday's game. X's and O's lovers, get comfortable on your sofas.

Tip off is noon CST.

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