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For Openers, Tennessee Is Remarkably Tough

March 16, 2001|From Associated Press

Austin Peay sophomore Brooke Armistead couldn't help herself Thursday. As she walked toward a news conference in Knoxville, Tenn., she stopped to watch Tennessee Coach Pat Summitt putting her Lady Vols through practice.

Never mind that No. 16-seeded Austin Peay plays the top-seeded Lady Vols tonight in the opening round of the NCAA Mideast Regional. Armistead just had to catch a glimpse of a coach and a program that she admired for years while growing up 113 miles away.

"It was a thrill for me just to see them, and I can't wait to play against them," said Armistead, the nation's seventh-leading scorer. "I used to dream of playing for them and winning championships."

That sums up why Tennessee has never lost a first- or second-round game in the NCAA tournament at home. The count is 26-0, a number expected only to go higher tonight after ninth-seeded St. Mary's (25-5) and eighth-seeded Texas (20-12) play in the other first-round game in Knoxville.

Meanwhile, Clemson is so beaten up that Coach Jim Davis is wondering how it will get through its opener against Chattanooga in the Mideast Regional at Cincinnati.

Senior Andrea Gaines has three stress fractures, one in each foot and one in a leg. Junior Krystal Scott has a stress fracture and freshman Julie Aderhold is being treated for an Achilles' tendon problem.

Sophomore Heather Crowe has a bulging disk in her back and is not expected to play in the tournament.

Clemson-Chattanooga is one of 16 games being played at eight sites today.

Fifth-seeded Clemson (20-9) had anticipated a strong tournament run after finishing second in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Clemson is ranked 22nd nationally and is one of only three teams to beat Duke, the ACC champion and the top-seeded team in the West.

Defending champion Connecticut opens Saturday as the top-seeded team in the East against Long Island.

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