Monday, March 21, 2005

(9) Purdue (17-12) vs. (1) Tennessee (27-4)

Game Info: 9:30 pm EST Tue Mar 22, 2005
Philadelphia Region - Thompson-Boling Arena (Knoxville, TN)

Even with a chance to break one of the most prestigious marks in basketball history, Tennessee coach Pat Summitt remains focused solely on advancing in the NCAA tournament.

Summitt, with the advantage of playing in front of her home crowd, can become the winningest coach in the history of college basketball when the top-seeded Lady Volunteers meet Purdue in the second round of the Philadelphia Regional.

Tennessee's 94-43 victory over Western Carolina in the first round Sunday was win No. 879 for Summitt, tying her with former North Carolina men's coach Dean Smith for the all-time record.

After the win, the Lady Vols asked their coach if she was excited about trying to break Smith's record in the second round.

``I said, 'Yes, I want your help,''' Summitt said. ``I want to get this over with only because we will be going to Philadelphia and we all want to go to Philadelphia.''

The winner of Tuesday's game advances to face either 12th-seeded Middle Tennessee State or No. 4 Texas Tech in the regional semifinals in Philadelphia.

Summitt is 879-171, while Smith was 879-254 in 36 years with the Tar Heels. Summitt has six national titles and 15 Final Four appearances, and tops all women's coaches with an 86-17 NCAA tournament record.

Summitt has a chance to break the record in front of her home crowd. She tied Smith on Tennessee's home court at Thompson-Boling Arena, where the Lady Vols are 252-14 since it opened in 1987. The Lady Volunteers have never lost an NCAA game in Knoxville, Tenn., going 45-0 since the women's tournament began in 1982.

Shanna Zolman and the Lady Vols made it easy for Summitt to get the victory Sunday.

Zolman matched her career high of 28 points, going 5-of-8 from beyond the arc. The junior guard is shooting 46 percent from 3-point range in 13 career tournament games.

Shyra Ely added 12 points and 10 rebounds, while Alexis Hornbuckle had 11 points and 12 rebounds for Tennessee.

Purdue used its height advantage to defeat eighth-seeded New Mexico 68-56 in the first round Sunday. Erin Lawless scored 22 points and fellow 6-foot-2 forward Lindsay Wisdom-Hylton added 17 points and 12 rebounds.

The Boilermakers won't have the same size edge against the Lady Vols, who have six players who are 6-3 or taller.

Purdue's 16 wins were the fewest for an at-large team in the NCAA tournament. It's the first year that Purdue coach Kristy Curry hasn't won at least 20 games in her six seasons. The Boilermakers, appearing in the tournament for the 12th straight year, would have to make the Final Four to keep Curry's streak alive.

However, Curry instead could end up being the losing coach in a milestone game for Summitt.

``To a certain degree in my heart I have to be pulling for her a little bit,'' Curry said. ``That's human nature.''

PROBABLE STARTERS: Purdue - F Lawless (14.4 ppg, 5.4 rpg), F Wisdom-Hylton (8.8 ppg, 4.8 rpg), C Emily Heikes (5.3 ppg, 6.6 rpg), G Katie Gearlds (14.1 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 3.1 apg), G Sharika Webb (4.4 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 2.8 apg). Tennessee - F Ely (14.4 ppg, 7.4 rpg), F Hornbuckle (8.3, 5.3 rpg), C Nicky Anosike (6.1 ppg, 5.7 rpg), G Zolman (12.5 ppg, 2.5 rpg), G Loree Moore (4.7 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 3.4 apg).

HOW THEY GOT HERE: Purdue - At-large berth, Big Ten; beat No. 8 New Mexico 68-56, first round. Tennessee - Automatic bid, Southeastern Conference tournament champion; beat No. 16 Western Carolina 94-43, first round.

ALL-TIME TOURNAMENT RECORD: Purdue - 33-14, 16 years. Tennessee - 86-17, 24 years.

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