It will be the Lady Vols' second time to face an ACC team this season. They swept the three Pac-10 and Big East teams that they played – UCLA, Arizona State and Stanford and West Virginia, Notre Dame and Connecticut – but the ACC's North Carolina handed Tennessee its lone loss so far, 70-57, on Dec. 3, 2006, in Chapel Hill.
In the past coach Pat Summitt might have taken a scorched-earth approach at the next day's practice. But that following Monday she called off practice and instead matched each player with an assistant coach for one-on-one film sessions. The players also met in position groups with a coach, and Summitt took the young point guards, Shannon Bobbitt and Cait McMahan, under her wing. The players emerged from those sessions with specific information about how to improve and their confidence intact.
Then four days later Tennessee wiped out George Washington, 85-62, but Summitt watched the film later that night and saw much to dislike, including the lack of defensive intensity. The next day at practice she scorched her players physically on the court and verbally between drills.
Assistant Coach Nikki Caldwell stopped practice to deliver an impassioned speech about Tennessee and its tradition of not just winning games but winning championships. The players were initially stunned but responded. It was the most intense and physically challenging practice of the season.
The reverberations weren't just felt that day on the floor. It set in motion how the season has unfolded so far. In interviews at various times since those December games the players talk about how much they've grown. Summitt talks about how much she likes this team.
Monday's game is both being hyped – Summitt has been on the airwaves and in campus dining halls asking for fan and student support – and being kept in perspective, because, as sophomore forward Candace Parker has pointed out, no matter the outcome both teams will be back at practice the next day preparing for conference play.
Parker will be back for Tennessee in this game – she missed last week's SEC matchup with Mississippi State because of respiratory illness – and will be back in the starting lineup. Summitt is known for tinkering with her lineup, but so far this season she has stuck with her same starters. The two exceptions were Parker's absence and Bobbitt missing a start Nov. 28, 2006, at Louisiana Tech because she needed to take a test for a class in her major, which is psychology.
So far it's Summitt who has displayed a psychological touch to this team – knowing when to back off and when to confront players and challenge them.
Her starters are expected to be: Shannon Bobbitt, 5'2 junior guard, No. 00 (7.5 points per game, 1.5 rebounds per game, 3.3 assists per game); Alexis Hornbuckle, 5'11 junior guard, No. 14 (9.7 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 3.4 steals per game); Sidney Spencer, 6'3 senior forward, No. 1 (12.5 ppg, 3.6 rpg); Candace Parker, 6'5 sophomore forward, No. 3 (19.7 ppg, 8.7 rpg); and Nicky Anosike, 6'4 junior center, No. 55 (8.1 ppg, 5.8 rpg).
Duke coach Gail Goestenkors is expected to start: Lindsey Harding, 5'8 senior guard, No. 10 (14.1 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 4.1 apg), over the last four games has hit 53.8 percent of her field goals and 42.9 percent from behind the arc, standout track athlete in high school (CY-Fair in Houston) in the 200-meter, 300-meter and 400-meter runs, 300-meter hurdles and high jump; Abby Waner, 5'10 sophomore guard, No. 4 (14.3 ppg, 4.3 rpg), All-ACC Freshman team, hit 8-13 from behind the arc against Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech but 2-13 over the last two games against Maryland and N.C. State, is 32-95 overall this season from long range (33.7 percent), her older sister, Emily Waner, a junior also plays for Duke after transferring from Colorado; Wanisha Smith, 5'11 junior guard, No. 23 (8.5 ppg, 4.5 rpg), entered this season with 275 assists in her first two years, has 82 so far this season; Carrem Gay, 6'2 sophomore forward, No. 30 (9.7 ppg, 6.8 rpg), hampered by a nagging shoulder injury last season but has started all 19 games this season and is one of the team's best rebounders; and Alison Bales, 6'7 senior center, No. 43 (11.1 ppg, 7.2 rpg), owns the top three single-season block marks in Duke history – 134 in 2004-05, 120 in 2005-06 and 91 in 2006-07 to date, her father, Charles, played football at Texas Christian University.
Tennessee is in somewhat of an unusual role of being the underdog with the Blue Devils coming in undefeated and the higher-ranked team.
"It is in this game this season," Summitt said matter of factly. "I think that the fact they are No. 1 is exciting. It will be exciting for our fans. It's a challenge for us. Clearly they earned that position. Now we have an opportunity to see how we match up against them."
Hornbuckle doesn't mind being the underdog at this point in the season.
"I think it's a good thing to be honest," Hornbuckle said. "Sometimes it's great to be the underdog. That's when you kind of sleep on teams that are the underdog, and good things come up after that. It's no big deal. You want to fight for number one, but sometimes you've got to start from the bottom to get to the top."
The Blue Devils will be one of Tennessee's toughest challenges in the regular season. They are anchored inside by Bales, and their offense runs through Harding. Tennessee's practice sessions this week focused on stopping transition offense and guarding the interior.
"Alison Bales, she just really is a force," Summitt said. "If you look at her size and her presence, she blocks shots; it can be intimidating. She makes a lot of defensive plays for them. If you've got someone that can anchor down the defense like Alison it puts a lot more pressure on your offense. I think a lot of people just start trying to beat them from the outside as opposed to going inside."
Summitt said Tennessee wouldn't change its offensive approach, especially with Parker on the blocks.
"We're going to play the way we always play," Summitt said. "We want to go inside. Obviously we're committed to going inside. We understand inside-outside action is important in all games."
Parker expects to draw a lot of attention from the opponent's defense. UConn opted to let her score – she responded with 30 points – and hope nobody else stepped up. Bobbitt and Spencer took care of that strategy. Georgia put two and sometimes three defenders on Parker in a bruising battle. Anosike and Hornbuckle took care of the offense – and for that matter were instrumental on defense – in the 52-41 win.
Still, Summitt has seen Parker's performance in big games, and Monday's certainly qualifies.
"I just think Candace understands in those games she has to put up numbers for us," Summitt said. "She looks for the ball, and I think obviously her teammates look to get her the ball. We try to move her a lot, and I think that's really helped her get open looks in her face-up game and her post-up game and also get her in the high-low action so she can put the ball on the floor.
"That's where her versatility is obviously very important on the offensive end. It's not like we're just going to put her on the block and try to pound it into her. I think we'll probably see a lot of zone. We're seeing that. People are zoning us so they can double-team her. It's important that we move her regardless of what defense we face. We've got to keep her moving, get her a lot of touches."
Parker said her response in big games goes back to why she picked Tennessee – thinking about the stage and reacting to the moment.
"I feel like in big games that's what you have to do," said Parker, whose final college choices came down to Tennessee and Duke. "That's what you grew up dreaming about. You grow up dreaming about playing these big games and making big plays. I've watched my idols make plays in big games. You're not scared of pressure; you love it. That's what I'm excited about, and that's why I came to Tennessee."
As far as why she steps up when it really matters she doesn't spend much time pondering that.
"I really don't know to be honest with you," Parker said. "I don't know whether I'm playing more minutes maybe. It's just like top competition it brings the best out of you."
An example of that was her game at Hartford against UConn in which she dunked on the Huskies' floor and said she did so because she had the chance.
"It was fun; it was intense," Parker said. "It was a harsh environment. It's everything that you want as a player."
Monday's game should be of the same intensity, but this time the Lady Vols want Duke to feel the effects of a harsh setting. The Blue Devils blistered Tennessee last season, 75-53, in a hostile setting led by the Cameron Crazies.
"Our fans will be here," Parker said. "Our fans are the best in the world, and I feel like once we get on the court they're going to be number one when we're playing them, and they're coming to our home court and obviously we got embarrassed last year, but this is a new year, this is a new team, they're a new team, and it's going to be a good game. I think our fan support will be huge in how well we do.
"I feel like it's a great gauge to see where you are for the season; however, it's not the be all, end all. It doesn't make or break your season. Last year unfortunately I feel like it kind of shaped our season. I think we kind of dwelled on that loss a little bit."
That sentiment was expressed by several teammates. Tennessee followed the shellacking at Duke with a loss at Kentucky and the effects seemed to linger.
"It was ugly," Hornbuckle said of the game in Durham, N.C. "It was a pitiful example of basketball. But it taught us a lot. It taught us a lot about ourselves. I learned a lot for me. I felt like I could become stronger mentally from that game. I just felt like I was mentally weak, and I had room to grow. As a team you could tell that it affected us, because then we started snowballing. We lost to Kentucky. This year's team we lost to North Carolina, but nobody hung their heads, and everybody came back ready and willing to get better."
The loss at North Carolina hurt – the Tar Heels were the team that beat the Lady Vols in the Elite Eight last season to end their season – but Tennessee regrouped instead of dwelling on the outcome.
"As far as last season, we have a whole new team and a whole new attitude about our team," Hornbuckle said. "That showed in the North Carolina game. We didn't come out on top, but no one ever stopped fighting, and in the locker room after the game nobody was down on themselves any more than what was needed as far as, ‘Man, I could have done this,' and we talked about what-not. But we never took it any further.
"Last year we suffered a loss, after Duke then Kentucky. Everybody was like, ‘Man, I feel like I'm not of any use.' You feel like you're not as useful as you were in the beginning, and this year our team is just like, ‘OK, I messed up, but I can get it back' whether it's within that game, that possession, that minutes, that second, it's just a different mindset.
"I don't know what it was particularly with our team last year, but it was like we were very easily affected and as soon as anything negative came our way it just sent us on a downward spiral. This year it's like we come together, we come closer, we try to figure things out and try to find the best solution."
A big part of that are this team's defensive capabilities. Hornbuckle and Bobbitt, along with newcomers Cait McMahan and Alberta Auguste, put athletic players with speed and quickness on the perimeter. It's an up-tempo approach that Summitt never wants to be without again.
"Our defense last year was never at the level it is right now," Summitt said. "First of all we didn't have the speed and the quickness and this team they really thrive on getting after people defensively. We have mobile players, and we have quickness, and we have speed, and I hope we never are without those kind of players here at Tennessee because it gives us so many dimensions and so many opportunities to mix up our defense and influence how other people play against us."
An even better benefit for Summitt is that her defense has evolved since the season started.
"We're getting better," she said. "We're a lot better than we were at Arizona State. You look back there, we didn't guard the three ball, we gave up dribble penetration, they had their way in the paint with us from time to time. We're a much better defensive team, but we can get a lot better. Alberta could be one of the best defenders on our basketball team. She's got a ways to go, but she could be really, really, good. I think she just plays too upright."
Senior forward Dominique Redding also needs to get in a defensive stance, Summitt said, and she cited the work of Spencer, who is not fleet of foot but who makes up for shortcomings with positioning and effort.
"Dom plays too upright," Summitt said. "Dom doesn't have her (Auguste's) quickness, but Dom could be a better defender. It has to be priority for everyone on our team. Spencer has found out a way to keep herself on the floor and play solid defense. She starts that reaching in the backcourt, and she's beaten. She's figured out a way to be a much better defender than she was a year ago."
Spencer looks at Duke's lineup and knows an outstanding defensive effort will be required to contain the Blue Devils, especially at the point spot.
"Their one position, their point guard Lindsey Harding, she pushes the ball," Spencer said. "If you don't stop her in transition, she's going to go coast to coast. That's something big for us, because they are always looking for her. She's an emotional leader for them. They have great size inside; they have great wings. Overall I think they are very balanced as far as scoring and their attack so that's going to be very, very crucial for us."
Hornbuckle thinks of last season's game and recalls how Harding out-played her.
"Lindsey Harding is having a great year thus far," Hornbuckle said. "She definitely just put it on me. She was definitely the better point guard last year when we played them at Duke. Even though I'm not at the point position it just means a lot to me to be able to have a great game all-around and be able to help my team and lead the team the way I need to.
"Because I felt like last year I allowed the Duke team and fans to take me out of that leadership role, and I have to be able to stand strong. So I think I have a lot to prove, and this is the game to do it."
Harding will face a significantly faster Tennessee backcourt this season, led by Bobbitt.
"She has added a lot of speed and quickness at the top of the point position," Harding said. "A lot of teams like to trap, but she's hard to trap. She's a player who can break through it. And defensively, her quickness makes it harder to get by her. She's brought a lot to them."
Harding realizes Tennessee's initial approach on defense will be to disrupt her play.
"I think the thing Tennessee looks to do is try to get the point guard out of the play, deny her the ball and not let her touch it. But the good part about our team is that I have other players on the floor who can play point," Harding said of Duke's three-guard lineup. "So we'll just stick with our same game plan … lot of back-door cuts, look to penetrate, get open shots."
Summitt specifically mentions Harding when speaking about Duke and trying to slow down the Blue Devils' attack.
"I don't think Harding is someone that you can stop, but I think she's a player that if we can contain in the full court her ability to create, make the long diagonal passes, get other people involved, get to the rim herself, if we can just slow down their transition game to some level, some degree of success, that I think will be really key for us," Summitt said.
That sounds like a lot to ask for, and it is. Combine that with Bales' shot-blocking ability in the paint – she has 91 blocks on the season; by comparison Parker has 46 – and the Lady Vols had better pack hard hats and lunch pails.
Summitt's advice when facing a shot blocker is clear.
"Just keep going at the defense; just keep going at them," she said.
Some of the male practice players bring size, and former Lady Vol Ashley Robinson, a 6'5 center who now plays for the Seattle Storm, also took the court a couple of times this past week to help her former team get ready.
It will help that the players have had a single focus since the loss to North Carolina in December.
"Emphasis on defense," Hornbuckle said. "You can see across the board everybody is kind of stepping up their defensive play. Maybe not necessarily getting steals and getting blocks but just being in position. I think our half-court defense has gotten so much better since the beginning of the season. We're slowly but surely progressing as far as in the rebound ranks. We're trying to pull up. We started out kind of low so it's kind of hard to get up there nationally as far as across the NCAA. As far as for ourselves we're pulling up and progressing."
Transition defense, by Hornbuckle's admission, remains a concern.
"I think it does vary, which is not a good thing," Hornbuckle said. "You have to have consistency as far as that, because so many teams this year like to get out and run. You have to be able to stop that, whether it's early pickup, whether it's getting back and making smart decisions, and that's so important in Monday night's game.
"They're a transition team. They like to get out and run. They send one out to leak out, and if we all five crash the boards or we have a mental breakdown and forget about someone or don't pick up the ball, they'll have a field day."
Duke also has team speed, though it's of a different variety than that displayed by the Tar Heels, who are quick at every spot on the floor.
"It's kind of two types of running," Hornbuckle said. "North Carolina has all the speed. Duke, they have four to crash the board and they have one of their guards releasing as soon as the shot goes up. North Carolina, it was a little bit different. It was everybody crashing the boards, but they still somehow always get down the court before you. They're running, but it's two different speeds."
Summitt's game plan is to deploy as many guards as she can to try to slow down the Blue Devils.
"I think there are really four players who are going to play the guard spot for us," Summitt said. "Obviously Shannon and Alexis will be our starting guards. Shannon typically gets back and Lex will be picking up Harding, as well as Bobbitt, and then Cait and Alberta. I'm not going to hesitate to rotate some guards there."
Another key defender is Anosike, who has the size to guard in the paint but also has the quickness to hound smaller players on the perimeter. Anosike knows she can't handicap her team by picking up early and cheap fouls.
"It won't be smart if I get into early foul trouble," Anosike said. "It won't be beneficial to my teammates if I do that. Shannon was sitting on the bench for the first half against North Carolina. That could have been the difference right there."
The players bring up the North Carolina game without prompting. It's not just because it was the sole loss, but also because it's their baseline for comparing how far they have come since.
"I think the biggest thing is that the game is 40 minutes," Anosike said. "I think North Carolina some of us played 25 or 30 minutes of the game, and you can't win like that against great teams. That might work against good teams or alright teams but against a team like Duke or North Carolina, you can't get away with that. I think we need to put a lot of emphasis on playing 40 minutes."
The team tried to use last season's defeat to Duke as additional motivation, but that method didn't work. Instead, the aftermath of the loss lingered and the players recoiled at the memory.
"I think last season people were trying to use it as some sort of motivation, but it was reversed; it backfired," Hornbuckle said. "When you thought about it, it was just like, ‘Man, don't even talk about that game.' It was like you couldn't get up out of that slump.
"And I think this year we haven't focused on anything from last season because our team is so different. I personally have used it as a source of motivation as far as what I need to do to help my team because I feel like I can't let my team down like I did last year. I've got to step up and be a leader, no matter if my offensive game is going well or what's going on. I just have to focus on what I'm capable of doing and what I am in control of doing. No matter what is going on just play my game and do whatever it takes to help my team."
Parker said the team had no choice but to forget about the North Carolina loss and plow ahead. Since that game Tennessee has rattled off 11 consecutive wins.
"We couldn't do it," Parker said. "With the schedule that we played this year, we couldn't. We knew that if we dwelled on the past, then you're going to lose and possibly not get to the position you want to get to towards the end of the season."
That position would be a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Tennessee's case for one of the four spots would be buttressed by a win over Duke, but both teams have a long grind ahead in their conferences. On Thursday, the Lady Vols will be in Nashville to take on bitter in-state rival Vanderbilt. Duke heads to the Sunshine State to face Florida State.
"Obviously everyone steps on the court to win the game but either way both teams will be practicing the next day, and both teams will be playing games the next week," Parker said.
These two teams are very similar in terms of statistics. Tennessee averages 75.8 ppg, Duke, 77.7. The Lady Vols surrender 55.2 ppg, the Blue Devils, 47.0. Their overall field goal percentages are identical at 46.3 percent. Tennessee holds the edge behind the arc – 39.9 percent vs. 32.9 percent – but Duke is better at the free throw line, 75.1 percent vs. 71 percent. The numbers bump together in the steals and turnovers departments, too: 13.2 thefts for Tennessee and 13.1 for Duke with 16.6 giveaways a game for the Lady Vols and 16.2 for the Blue Devils.
The teams are similar in SOS and RPI, too – Tennessee is number one in both categories and Duke is No. 2 in RPI and No. 4 in SOS. The average score when these two teams meet is 66.5 for Duke and 66.1 for Tennessee. Summitt isn't worried about essentially looking in the mirror on the basketball court.
"I think with the challenging schedule that we play we're prepared for that type of play," Summitt said. "We understand defensive priorities. We've got to control the boards against this team. If we can't really work the offensive and defensive boards, we're just going to open things up for them."
The Lady Vols are averaging 37.7 rebounds per game for a +3.1 margin over opponents. Duke averages 43.7 boards for a +10.1 margin. Both teams allow opponents 33.6 boards per game.
The good news for the Lady Vols is that they finally dominated a team on the board, 45-30, in last Thursday's game and that was without Parker.
"I look at our rebounding margin and I wondered if Candace would have played if we would have had like 60 rebounds," Spencer said. "I think that was very important that others stepped up, including myself. We just want to carry that over into the game."
Spencer also wants to see her team get out and run the floor. Spencer has gotten some of her best looks behind the arc this season in transition with her teammates finding her in the open court.
"With Shannon at our point anytime we have a team like Duke that wants to push, we want to push right back at them and see if they can guard transition," Spencer said. "That's going to be key defensively for us but as far as offensively that's something that we're looking to do."
Spencer has confidence in Hornbuckle to handle this year's game after the debacle at Duke last year. Spencer points to this past summer when Hornbuckle had to rehab a broken right wrist suffered in February and get in repetitions to try to find a consistent jump shot.
"I don't think Alexis allows much to rattle her," Spencer said. "When stuff happens like that I think she feeds off of it. She should be as confident as anyone else. She worked extremely hard over the summer and even with coming back from the wrist injury and rehabbing, she was in the gym working on shooting as much as she could and working on her handles. I think that she feeds off of that. She uses that for motivation.
"I think she has incredible experience and knowledge of the game so that helps. I think when we start off the game especially it's like a mutual thing. We're all there. We all take each other's input and go with it. There's not one particular person that's saying do this, do that. We all feed off each other. I think it's great to have everyone try to lead by example, because I think that helps when we face adversity in a game."
Anosike intends to gather her teammates and talk about playing within themselves – in other words not getting too hyped despite what is anticipated to be a capacity crowd if late ticket sales surge as expected with the forecast of snow and ice having evaporated.
"I think that's something we definitely need to talk about before the game," Anosike said. "I think we need to kind of help each other, calm each other down, let each other know in addition to playing with energy we've got to do it in a smart way. That will be up to us and coach to get us calmed down."
The players will descend through the student section in a show of appreciation for the support of their peers and then flow onto the court into a line for warmup drills. They will huddle up and remind each other of what is at stake – a chance to knock off the No. 1-ranked team and seek redemption for what happened last year.
"We were number one when we played them, and they took that away with ease," Hornbuckle said. "A number is a number. They're a great team and they proved that the other night against Maryland, (the national champions, whom the Blue Devils beat with ease). It's a little incentive to not only respect them but now you've got to give them a little more respect because they just beat the champions like it was nothing."
Anosike has no doubt that the Lady Vols are ready for the challenge, but she wants to see a team under control from the opening tip to the final buzzer.
"You prepare so long for this game, and you hear so much about it," Anosike said. "The gym is packed. You have all this energy bottled up inside you, and you just kind of want to let it go. But I think you need to learn where and when to let it go and how to do it and where to be aggressive and where not to be aggressive and just be smart enough to kind of feel the refs out and see if they're calling it physical or if you can kind of get away with stuff.
"I think it's definitely exciting but at the same time we can't get caught up in that. We have to focus on what we have to do, focus on the 40 minutes that we have to handle our business."
SCOUTING REPORT: Assistant Coach Nikki Caldwell handled the scouting report for the Duke game. Here is her assessment.
When Duke has the ball: "Obviously they're a very, very good in transition offensive team. So identifying the basketball early, making sure that we're influencing the basketball early and not allowing them to get that long diagonal pass, which obviously leads to Abby Waner spotting up for a three or Wanisha Smith. I think Lindsey Harding does an exceptional job of really pushing tempo for them. And they get their defense going. They start forcing turnovers, which then leads to their running game. So I think transition defense will be key.
"Offensively they're a very balanced team. Their guard play is strong. They've got players who can shoot the three, take it off the dribble, and they've got post players who can score. So we're going to have try to limit touches to certain players, try to keep certain players in front of us and make sure that we are giving them one shot opportunity at the basket."
When Tennessee has the ball: "What we're trying to emphasize offensively is just offensive execution. We want to be a team that is not quick shooting the basketball. We obviously want to establish our inside-outside attack and make sure that we, too, have the balanced attack. Spencer's got to play a big-time role for us, as well as Hornbuckle, and then Candace and Nicky have got to anchor us inside. And Shannon has done a great job, too, of being that threat that sometimes people overlook at being a very, very good three-point shooter. And you know what she can do in transition.
"I think us having a balanced attack will be key offensively. Again, our staple, as well, transition and crashing the offensive glass."
Caldwell cited the role of Alex Fuller off the bench as key for Tennessee. Fuller made her first career start against Mississippi State in place of an ill Candace Parker and responded very well.
"We're thrilled with what Alex did against Mississippi State, as well as Alberta Auguste had a very good night shooting," Caldwell said. "(Dom) Redding didn't have a great night shooting, but she had some very good looks, a few of her balls rimmed out on her. So our bench play is going to be huge, and we do rely on them to be able to come in and if it's not give us a spark, at least stay where we're at."
Caldwell cautioned that the Lady Vols shouldn't pay any heed to the rankings.
"We've just got to make sure that we go out no matter what the rankings are that you go out and play your game," she said. "The team that goes out and executes and gets the hustle plays and does the garbage plays I think that's the team that's going to come out victorious.
"But it's going to be a hard-fought game. It's going to be a great game for women's basketball. Coach Goestenkors has done a good job with her team. You look at last year's team. They lost a lot with Mistie Williams and Monique Currie. But I think Lindsey Harding is really the nucleus of that team. She's the one to me that really can dial them up, not only on the defensive end but also offensively getting them into their transition game."
DUKE DUNKER?: Carrem Gay, a 6'2 forward, is likely to open up defensively in the paint on Candace Parker, who has dunked six times in her career and four times this season.
Gay tried to dunk this season against Boston University but missed. She has done so in practice in high school and college. Gay went to high school at Christ the King in New York, the same school that former Lady Vol All-American Chamique Holdsclaw attended. Gay has said that Holdsclaw was her role model.
"I always looked up to Chamique Holdsclaw because she went to Christ the King," Gay said in a Q&A on goduke.com. "I just envied her game, and people always compared me to her when I first went to Christ the King, so I just always looked up to her."
ODDS AND ENDS: Tennessee and Duke are tied in this series, 4-4. The Blue Devils have won the last two matchups. … Tennessee is 8-1 in games played on January 22. The lone loss on this date came against Western Carolina, 43-26, in 1971, when Margaret Hutson coached the Lady Vols. Pat Summitt, who has 930 career wins and is 70 away from the eye-popping feat of 1,000 victories, began coaching at Tennessee in 1974. Former Lady Vol guard Kellie Jolly is now the coach at Western Carolina. … The Lady Vols hope to pack Thompson-Boling Arena for tonight's game and some 17,000 tickets had been sold by Saturday. The last time Duke played in Knoxville, which was also the first time, 11,459 fans were in attendance. … Both Duke and Tennessee have faced ranked opponents this season. The Lady Vols are 7-1; Duke has a 6-0 record. … Tennessee has a 2-8 record when facing the No. 1-ranked team in Knoxville. The last home victory over No. 1 was 11 years ago to the day when No. 4 Tennessee knocked off Louisiana Tech, 77-72, in 1996. … Sidney Spencer continues to lead the nation in three-point field goal percentage at 51.9 percent. … Duke allowed a season-high 30 points in the first half and 62 points in the Maryland contest but still downed the then No. 1-ranked Terrapins 81-62 with relative ease. … The Blue Devils have a school-record 32-game winning streak against non-conference foes. Duke last lost to a non-conference opponent on March 28, 2005, against the SEC's Louisiana State, 59-49, in the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament.