Auburn Women's basketball team goes to face 5th ranked Tennessee - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Lady Tigers hit the road to face fifth-ranked Tennessee

Source: Source:
AUBURN – The Auburn women's basketball team (11-9, 2-5 SEC) hits
the halfway portion of its Southeastern Conference schedule Thursday as
the Tigers travel to Knoxville, Tenn., for a game against fifth-ranked
Tennessee (17-2, 5-1 SEC). Tipoff is set for 6 p.m. CT, from UT's
Thompson-Boling Arena and the game will air live on CSS (Channel 35 in
The Tigers are coming off a tough 68-50 loss at No. 25 Kentucky last
weekend. The Wildcats used their pressure defense to force 25 Auburn
turnovers in the game, handing the Tigers their third loss in a row.
Tennessee is coming off a 55-43 win at LSU on Sunday. The Lady Vols
bounced back from a 53-50 loss at Georgia for the win. The loss against
the Bulldogs was just the second of the season for Tennessee, who also
lost to second-ranked Stanford, 67-52, on Dec. 19, 2009.
Auburn is also halfway through a rough stretch that includes four
straight games against ranked teams. Vanderbilt was ranked 21st in the
nation, followed by a 25th-ranked Kentucky team. Along with fifth-ranked
Tennessee, auburn will also take on ninth-ranked Georgia on Sunday.
"Here we go with another SEC game, a tough environment and tough road
game," said Auburn head coach Nell Fortner. "There are no easy games
in this conference. Tennessee, right now, is the best team in this
conference. They have that team back from last year with a year of
experience under their belt.
"It can be so dangerous, we will have to go there and play some good
basketball and shoot the ball well and handle the crowd, because they
always come out with a nice crowd."
The Tigers hope to bounce back from the losses against a team it saw
success against last season. Auburn defeated UT, 82-68, last season in
front of an over-capacity crowd at Beard-Eaves-Memorial Coliseum. The
Tigers then handed the Lady Vols a 78-58 loss in the SEC Tournament
semifinals. Auburn is riding a two-game winning streak against the Lady
Vols, marking just the third time ever for Auburn to win back-to-back
game against Tennessee.
Coming off of the three consecutive losses, Fortner said you have to
focus on the positive and learn from the experience, especially with a
young team.
"We are the team that we are right now because we are getting a lot
of great experience for some young kids," said Fortner. "If you lose
some games, you just have to take all of the good out of it that you can
and use that experience to get better the next game. That is what
we're trying to do. This is a tough conference, we are in a tough
place, there is no question, but this team has a lot of fight in it and
a lot of heart so we'll keep after it."
Leading the way for Auburn this season is junior Alli Smalley with 14.9
points per game. Right behind her is senior KeKe Carrier with 14.0
points, 7.5 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per game.
Since the start of SEC play, freshman Morgan Toles has stepped up her
role, averaging 8.6 points and 4.0 assists per game. Redshirt junior
Jordan Greenleaf is averaging 8.7 rebounds and 6.9 points in SEC play.
The Tigers average shooting 41.6 percent from the field and 31.3
percent from 3-point range. Auburn out-rebounds its opponents by 6.1 per
game, 7.9 in SEC games. AU has cut its turnovers down to 17.3 per game
and average blocking 5.1 shots per game.
The Lady Vols have dominated teams this season with an average margin
of victory of 18.9 points per game. Tennessee also averages
out-rebounding its opponents by 9.2 per game.
UT has also been strong at home, posting a perfect 9-0 record while
averaging 13,048 fans per game at Thompson-Boling Arena.
Three Lady Vols are averaging double figures, led by junior guard Angie
Bjorklund with 14.8 points per game. She also leads the team in
3-pointers, with 3.1 per game, and 3-point percentage as she knocks down
46.5 percent of her attempts.
Right behind her are sophomores Shekinna Stricklen and Glory Johnson,
averaging 12.7 points each. Stricklen is also the team leader in assists
with 4.1 per game while Johnson leads Tennessee with 8.4 rebounds per
All five Tennessee starters stand taller than 6-foot, led by center
Kelly Cain at 6-6. Cain is averaging 9.3 points, 7.2 rebounds and 2.8
blocks while hitting 56.8 percent of her shot attempts.
As a team, Tennessee shoots 46.6 percent from the field and 36.5
percent from 3-point range. The Lady Vols also hit 68.4 percent of their
free throws. Tennessee forces 17 turnovers per game while committing
only 15.5.
Thursday will be a reunion of sorts for a pair of Tigers. Fortner will
get a chance to visit with UT assistant coach Daedra Charles-Furlow, who
spent two seasons on the bench with her at Auburn. Toles, Auburn's
freshman point guard, will see former high school teammate Cain. Toles
and Cain won a pair of state championships together while at Atlanta's
St. Pius X High School.
It will also be a special day for a pair of Tigers as freshman Blanche
Alverson will celebrate her 19th birthday Thursday, along with sophomore
Parrisha Simmons as she turns 21.
CSS will air the Auburn-Kentucky game with Matt Stewart and former
Auburn head coach Joe Ciampi calling the action. The game will air
locally on Charter Cable channel 35. Auburn fans should check their
local listings for more information.
Fans can also follow along with GameTracker and an audio Webcast at Tiger fans can listen to the game live on WMXA 96.7 FM
with play-by-play from Andy Burcham and color commentary from Arnika
Auburn Women's Basketball Quick Hitters
- Auburn's Morgan Toles and Tennessee's Kelly Cain were high
school teammates at Atlanta's St. Pius X
- Jan. 28 is freshman Blanche Alverson's 19th birthday and
sophomore Parrisha Simmons' 21st birthday
- Former Auburn head coach Joe Ciampi is working as the color analyst
for the game on CSS
- Alli Smalley scored her 1,000th career point in the second half
against Vanderbilt, becoming the 25th player to do so
- KeKe Carrier grabbed her 500th career rebound at LSU, Jordan
Greenleaf grabbed her 500th rebound vs. Alabama
- For the first time this season, Auburn played with 10 players
against Alabama
- Sophomore guard Morgan Jennings played for the first time this
season against Alabama
- Sophomore forward Chantel Hilliard returned to the court vs.
Alabama after missing three games with an injury
- Auburn is coming off a 68-50 loss at #25 Kentucky; Tennessee is
coming off a 55-43 win at LSU
- The game against Tennessee is the third of a four-game streak for
Auburn against ranked teams
- Auburn defeated Tennessee twice last season, just the third time
ever for Auburn to win back-to-back games over UT
- Auburn trails the series with Tennessee, 10-32, including a 2-15
mark when playing in Knoxville
- Auburn is 50-58 all-time against teams from the state of Tennessee,
28-40 when playing in Tennessee, 6-18 in Knoxville
- Auburn has a 176-144 all-time record in the SEC, Nell Fortner has a
37-40 record in conference play
- Auburn is 4-2 all-time on Jan. 28; Nell Fortner is 0-1 on Jan. 28
- The Tigers are 179-95 all-time in the month of January, 16-23 under
- Nell Fortner is 2-6 against Tennessee head coach Pat Summitt
- The Tigers are 3-6 on the road this season, 1-3 in SEC play
- Fortner is 1-1 so far this season against fellow U.S. Olympic team
- Tennessee assistant coach Daedra Charles-Furlow is a former Nell
Fortner assistant coach at Auburn
- Auburn is 77-2 under Fortner when scoring 70 or more points
- In the win over Liberty, Auburn's front-court out-scored the back
court for the first time since Feb. 10, 2008; the Tigers repeated the
effort at South Alabama, vs. Valparaiso and at San Diego State
- Senior KeKe Carrier has logged 12 straight games of 20 or more
minutes for the first time in her career
- Nicolle Thomas scored 27 points against Florida State, the highest
point output for an Auburn freshman since 1987
- The Tigers tied the Auburn single-game blocks record against
Alabama A&M with 17
- Freshman Morgan Toles and sophomores Chantel Hilliard and Parrisha
Simmons earned their first career starts in the season-opener against
Troy; freshman Nicolle Thomas earned her first career start against
Alabama A&M
- Morgan Toles and Nicolle Thomas started against Alabama A&M,
marking the first time for Auburn to have multiple freshmen starters
since March 3, 2006 against Tennessee in the SEC Tournament (Boddie,
Bonner, Carrier)
- KeKe Carrier, Auburn's lone senior, started against Alabama A&M -
her first since Feb. 11, 2007
- The Tigers are beginning their final season in Beard-Eaves-Memorial
Coliseum before moving to the new Auburn Arena
- Auburn was picked eighth in the SEC Preseason Media and Coaches'
polls, LSU (media) and Tennessee (coaches) were picked to win the league
this season
- Alli Smalley was picked the the Coaches' Preseason All-SEC Second
- Nell Fortner is beginning her sixth season at Auburn, marking her
longest tenure at any job
- The Tigers welcome four newcomers: Blanche Alverson, Morgan Toles,
Nicolle Thomas, Pascale West
- Auburn begins the season with 6-7 KeKe Carrier and 6-8 Pascale
West, two of the three tallest players in the SEC
- AU is without Reneisha Hobbs after suffering an ACL injury, leaving
the Tigers with a roster of 10
- Auburn will be a first- and second-round host of the 2011 NCAA
Tournament in the new Auburn Arena
Auburn is not ranked. Tennessee is ranked fifth in the AP poll and
ranked fifth in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches' poll.
Auburn will return home for a 5 p.m., Sunday game against Georgia. The
game will air on ESPNU.
Auburn is in its 39th season of women's basketball and sports an
all-time record of 776-338... AU has made 18 NCAA Tournament
appearances, two WNIT appearances and three Final Fours in the
program's history... Head Coach Nell Fortner is in her sixth season
at Auburn with a 129-77 career record and a 112-66 record on the
Plains... The Tigers are coming off a 30-4 season in 2008-09 with their
first SEC title in 20 years and its second NCAA Tournament appearance in
as many seasons.
With her layup at the 18:21 mark in the second half against Vanderbilt,
junior Alli Smalley joined an exclusive club as she became just the 25th
Auburn player ever to score 1,000 career points. She finished the game
with 19 points, giving her 1,007 on her career.
Currently with 1,016 career points, she is the third player recruited
to Auburn by Nell Fortner to reach the plateau, joining DeWanna Bonner
(2,162 points) and Sherell Hobbs (1,372 points).
This will be the 43rd meeting between Auburn and Tennessee with the
Lady Vols dominating the series with a 32-10 advantage. Auburn beat
Tennessee twice last season, breaking a 16-game losing streak to
Tennessee. The Lady Vols are winners of 24 of the last 27 meetings
between the two teams and have won 15 of 17 meetings in Knoxville. Head
coach Nell Fortner owns a 2-5 record against the Lady Vols as Auburn's
head coach and is 0-2 in Knoxville.
Auburn's last win in Knoxville was a 71-68 victory on Jan. 9, 1988.
The top-seeded Auburn women's basketball team rallied from a
five-point halftime deficit to hand fifth-seeded Tennessee its worst
loss ever in the SEC Tournament as the Tigers earned a place in the SEC
Championship game with a 78-58 win.
Auburn head coach Nell Fortner also earned the 100th win over her
career on the Plains along with her first SEC title game appearance.
The Lady Vols took their largest lead of the game at the end of the
first half, going into the locker room with a 31-26 advantage. Auburn
returned to the court and went on a 19-2 run to start the second half,
eventually out-scoring Tennessee 52-27 in the final 20 minutes of play
to take the 20-point victory.
SEC Player of the Year DeWanna Bonner led Auburn to the win with 26
points and five rebounds, followed by senior point guard Whitney Boddie
with 19 points and four assists. Seventeen of Boddie's 19 came in the
second half as she led the Auburn comeback.
Also scoring in double figures for Auburn was Sherell Hobbs with 16
points. Trevesha Jackson led the team in rebounding with six.
Angie Bjorklund led Tennessee with 17 points while Alyssia Brewer came
off the bench for a double-double with 11 points and 15 rebounds.
A 15-2 run during the heart of the first half gave Tennessee a 13-point
lead and the second-ranked Lady Vols never looked back, cruising to an
85-52 win over Auburn at Thompson-Boling Arena.
Auburn and Tennessee were tied 6-6 before the Lady Vols blew the game
open with the run, led by eight points from Nicky Anosike.  Tennessee
went on to lead by 21 at halftime and out-scored Auburn 37-25 in the
second half for the 33-point win.
DeWanna Bonner had 19 points and five rebounds for Auburn, followed by
12 points and six rebounds for Sherell Hobbs. Trevesha Jackson came off
the bench for eight points and a team-high seven rebounds.
For Tennessee, it was Anosike leading the team with 20 points and 12
rebounds, followed by Candace Parker's 18 points and 11 boards. The
duo also combined for five blocks and eight steals in the win.
Tennessee shot 43.8 percent from the field and 42.9 percent from
3-point range, limiting Auburn to 31.7 percent from the field. The Lady
Vols also forced 21 Auburn turnovers, capitalizing for 33 points off
Kentucky's defense proved to be too much for Auburn Sunday as the
Tigers dropped a 68-50 decision to the 25th-ranked Wildcats at Memorial
Coliseum in Lexington, Ky. KeKe Carrier came off the bench to lead the
Tigers with 11 points, six rebounds and three blocked shots.
The Wildcats forced 25 Auburn turnovers in the game, turning them into
30 points and pulled down 15 offensive rebounds for 13 second-chance
points in the win.
Kentucky took a 5-0 start from the opening tip and never looked back,
leading by as many as 20 points in the game.
The Wildcats led by 20 with 4:11 left to play in the first half, but
Auburn capped off the period on an 8-2 run to close the gap to 14 by
halftime. Carrier scored all eight points in the stretch as The Tigers
went into the locker room down 38-24 at the half.
Auburn kept the momentum going in the second half, cutting the lead to
10 with 12:59 left to play, but turnovers stung the Tigers as UK forced
four in a two minute time span to build the lead back up to 19, 54-35,
with 8:19 left in the game. The Tigers would come no closer than 15
points in the final minutes as Kentucky held on for the 68-50 victory.
Blanche Alverson, Jordan Greenleaf and Alli Smalley all followed
Carrier with nine points each. Parrisha Simmons pulled down a game-high
eight rebounds in the loss along with her six points.
Tennessee's offense struggled Sunday, but the Lady Vols played well
enough to beat LSU, 55-43, in Baton Rouge, La.
Alyssia Brewer led Tennessee with 14 points and seven rebounds and
finished the game 6-of-13 from the field. Kelly Cain scored 11 points,
while Angie Bjorklund finished with 10 points, going 2-for-2 from
3-point range.
LSU's Allison Hightower led all scorers with 17 points and finished
6-of-22 from the floor. Lasondra Barrett added 12 points and 8 rebounds.
Jasmine Nelson led the Lady Tigers with 10 rebounds.
Tennessee's defense started off strong, holding the Lady Tigers to
five points in the first three minutes. Tennessee led by as many as
seven in the first half before taking a 24-22 lead at the half. LSU took
its only lead of the game with 12:18 left in the second half, going up
35-32. The Lady Vols quickly responded by going on an 18-2 run which
would put the Lady Tigers away for good 55-43.
Auburn is 176-144 all-time in Southeastern Conference Games. Head coach
Nell Fortner holds a 37-39 record in the conference.
This will be the ninth meeting between Nell Fortner and Tennessee's
Pat Summitt with Summitt owning a 6-2 record. Five of the six wins
against Fortner have come during her time at Auburn while the sixth came
during the 1996-97 season while Fortner was coaching at Purdue.
Fortner is in her sixth season at Auburn and seventh overall as a
collegiate head coach, holding a 129-77 career record. Summitt is in her
36th season at Tennessee and owns a 1,022-195 career record.
When playing on Jan. 28, Auburn has a 4-2 all-time record, Nell fortner
is 0-1. The Tigers last played on Jan. 28 in 2007, taking a 65-45 loss
at LSU. The last Auburn victory on Jan. 28 came in a 65-44 win against
Mississippi State in 1999.
Auburn holds a 50-58 against teams from the state of Tennessee. Records
against Tennessee teams: Austin Peay (2-0), Belmont (1-0), Memphis
(1-0), Middle Tennessee State (4-0), Tennessee (10-32),
Tennessee-Chattanooga (9-2), Tennessee-Martin (1-0), Tennessee State
(2-0), Tennessee Tech (4-1) and Vanderbilt (16-23).
When playing in the state of Tennessee, Auburn holds a 28-40 record and
a 6-18 record when playing in Knoxville. Records against teams when
playing in Tennessee:  Alabama [Chattanooga] (0-2), Alabama [Memphis]
(0-1), Arkansas [Nashville] (1-0), Florida [Chattanooga] (1-1), Florida
[Nashville] (1-0), Georgia [Chattanooga] (1-0), Kentucky [Knoxville]
(1-1), Kentucky [Chattanooga] (1-1), LSU [Knoxville] (1-0), LSU
[Chattanooga] (1-0), Louisiana Tech [Knoxville] (1-0), Middle Tennessee
State [Murfreesboro] (2-0), Mississippi [Knoxville] (0-1), Mississippi
[Chattanooga] (1-1), Mississippi State [Chattanooga] (0-1), Morgan State
[Cookeville] (1-0), Old Dominion [Knoxville] (1-0), Stanford [Knoxville]
(0-1), Tennessee [Knoxville] (2-15), Tennessee [Chattanooga] (1-0),
Tennessee-Chattanooga [Chattanooga] (3-2), Tennessee Tech [Cookeville]
(2-0), Vanderbilt [Knoxville] (1-0) and Vanderbilt [Nashville] (5-13)
Auburn holds an 89-149 all-time record against teams ranked in the
Associated Press Top 25 poll. Head Coach Nell Fortner is 8-32 against
ranked teams at Auburn.
The Tigers are 3-13 all-time against teams ranked fifth in the country,
Fortner is 0-2 against teams ranked fiftht with both of those losses
coming to Tennessee.
The last game for the Tigers against a team ranked fifth in the country
came on Feb. 23, 2006 in an 81-56 loss at Tennessee. The last win came
on Dec. 30, 1991 in a 69-60 win over Maryland.
Auburn is 1-3 against teams ranked in the AP poll this season after the
win at #11 LSU (64-62, OT) and losses to #15 Texas A&M (79-59), #12
Florida State (82-67) and #21 Vanderbilt (61-60).
Thursday's game vs. Tennessee marks the third time this season for
Nell Fortner, who was head coach of the U.S. National Team at the 2000
Sydney Olympics, to face another Olympic coach. Tennessee head coach Pat
Summitt was head coach of the 1984 U.S. Olympic Team and was named an
assistant in 1980.
The Jan. 10 game against LSU marked the first time this season that
Fortner faced another Olympic coach. LSU head coach Van Chancellor
served as the U.S. head coach at the 2004 Athens Olympics. On Jan. 17,
she faced South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley, who was an assistant
coach for the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team.
Fortner is 1-1 so far this season with a win over LSU's Van
Chancellor and a loss to Staley.
Head Coach Nell Fortner will see a familiar face on the Tennessee
sideline in Lady Vol assistant Daedra Charles-Furlow. Fortner hired
Charles-Furlow as an assistant coach prior to the 2006-07 season. During
her two seasons at Auburn, the Tigers posted a combined 41-25 record.
Charles-Furlow is in her second season on the bench at her alma mater,
coaching under Pat Summitt, who was her coach at UT from 1988-91.
Auburn freshman Morgan Toles should know a few things about Tennessee
redshirt sophomore Kelley Cain as the pair played together for two
seasons at St. Pius X High School in Atlanta, Ga.
During their two years together, the duo helped the Lady Golden Lions
to two Georgia 4A State Championships. Cain graduated in 2007 and Toles
left the team following that season to transfer to Sandy Creek High
Two Auburn Tigers will celebrate their birthdays on Thursday. Jan. 28
is the birthday of freshman Blanche Alverson and sophomore Parrisha
Simmons. Alverson will turn 19 years old while Simmons will turn 21.
Serving as a color analyst for Thursday's game against Tennessee is
former Auburn head coach Joe Ciampi. The former coach compiled a 568-203
record from 1979-2004 on the Plains. Ciampi guided Auburn to 16 NCAA
Tournament appearances, including three Final Four appearances.
His teams won SEC titles in 1981, 1987, 1988 and 1989 and four SEC
Tournament titles in 1981, 1987, 1990 and 1997.
Auburn enters the game as the best offensive rebounding team in the SEC
in SEC-only games, averaging 42.4 per game. Three of the top four
individual offensive rebounders in the SEC are also Auburn players as
Jordan Greenleaf ranks first (4.4), followed by KeKe Carrier (3.4) in
second and Parrisha Simmons (3.3) in a tie for third. The Tigers have
scored 98 second-chance points in SEC games, averaging 14.0 per game.
Junior guard Alli Smalley (1,016 points) has been cruising up the
career scoring rankings. She broke into the top 30 at the LSU game and
three games later is ranked 24th all-time.
Entering Thursday's game, she needs 90 points to tie Samantha
Williams (1992-96) for 23rd place. She is also one 3-pointer away from
tying Kristen Mulligan (1992-96) for fourth all-time in career
Auburn's 64-62 overtime win at LSU on Jan. 10 marked the
highest-ranked team to fall to the Tigers since Auburn defeated
10th-ranked Tennessee, 82-68, on Jan. 25, 2009. It was Auburn's first
win over a ranked team this season in three tries.
Senior KeKe Carrier's first rebound at LSU on Jan. 10 marked the
500th of her career, making her just the 22nd Auburn player ever to
reach the 500-rebound plateau.
She currently has 529 career rebounds and ranks 22nd all-time, 10
behind Tara Williams (1995-97), who ranks 21st with 539.
Redshirt junior Jordan Greenleaf followed up in the very next game with
her 500th rebound. She now has 519 on her career for 23rd all-time in
career rebounding - right behind Carrier.
In the Nov. 19 win over Alabama A&M, Nicolle Thomas made her first
career appearance in the starting lineup, joining fellow freshman Morgan
Toles. With two freshmen starting, it marked the first time for Auburn
to have multiple freshmen in the starting lineup since March 3, 2006
when freshmen Whitney Boddie, DeWanna Bonner and KeKe Carrier started in
the SEC Tournament against Tennessee.
Auburn is 77-2 when scoring 70 or more points in the Nell Fortner era.
The only times Auburn has lost when scoring at least 70 points was on
Jan. 20, 2005 vs. No. 7 Tennessee, 71-81 and Feb. 19, 2009 at No. 18
Vanderbilt, 73-70. When scoring less than 70 points, Auburn is 34-64
during the Fortner era.
Auburn is 179-95 all-time in the month of January, including a 16-23
mark under Nell Fortner (records begin in 1978-79 season, not all dates
provided prior to or during that season).
Only three active Auburn players, Alli Smalley, Jordan Greenleaf and
KeKe Carrier, entered the 2009-10 season with experience as a starter.
Smalley, a junior, has started in 73 of her 86 games as a Tiger, while
Greenleaf has started in 79 of 90. Both have been fixtures in the
starting lineup since their freshman seasons. Carrier, a senior, has
started in 40 of 110 games at Auburn, mostly during her freshman and
sophomore seasons.
Reneisha Hobbs and Morgan Jennings, who were both out with ACL
injuries, also have starting experience. Hobbs started against UAB last
season while Jennings started the first four games of the season in
place of Whitney Boddie.
Nell Fortner enters her sixth season as Auburn's head coach, marking
her longest tenure at any position in her career. The longest Fortner
had stayed at a job prior to Auburn came from 1990-95 while she was an
assistant coach at Louisiana Tech under legendary head coach Leon
Powered by Frankly