Tonight's game

April 06, 2004|By Milton Kent

Tonight's game

No. 1 Tennessee (31-3) vs. No. 2 UConn (30-4)

Site: New Orleans Arena

Time: 8:30

TV: ESPN

How Tennessee got here: Beat Colgate by 77-54 in the Midwest first round; DePaul, 79-59, in the second round; Baylor, 71-69, in the regional semifinal; Stanford, 62-60, in the regional final and Louisiana State, 52-50, in the national semifinal.

How Connecticut got here: Beat Penn by 91-55 in the East first round; beat Auburn, 79-53, in the second round; beat UC-Santa Barbara, 63-55, in the regional semifinal; Penn State, 66-49, in the regional final and Minnesota, 67-58, in the national semifinal.

Coaches: Pat Summitt is 852-165 in 30 seasons, all at Tennessee. Geno Auriemma is 531-104 in 19 seasons, all at Connecticut.

Tennessee's keys to victory: The Lady Vols not only need to out-rebound Connecticut, they need to do it early. If the Huskies are limiting Tennessee to one shot, while getting two or three on their end, the game will be over quickly. All-American Shyra Ely has had a sub-par tournament and will need to play perhaps her best game of the season to give Tennessee a chance. Tennessee will also need to shoot better from three-point range than it did in a 83-67 loss to UConn in February.

Connecticut's keys to victory: The Huskies likely will try to impose their physical will on Tennessee, laying bodies on the Lady Vols as much as possible, particularly inside. In particular, Barbara Turner and Jessica Moore will look to pound on Ely and Ashley Robinson, as well as reserve Tye'sha Fluker. Ann Strother, who has had 17 points in each of the past two games against Tennessee, has emerged as a solid second scoring option behind Diana Taurasi, and will be counted on again. Of course, the Huskies do nothing without Taurasi taking the lead role.

Prediction: Tennessee is actually deeper and more talented than Connecticut, but the Lady Vols have a mental block when it comes to the Huskies, who have beaten Tennessee five straight times and have never lost in a national championship game. Look for Connecticut to send Taurasi off with her third straight title.

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