GAINESVILLE — As well as her team is playing right now, Tennessee coach Pat Summitt is a bit uneasy coming into Gainesville to face the Gators tonight.
The last two trips to the O'Connell Center haven't been easy for the Vols. In 2009, the Gators earned a 66-57 upset. Last year, the Vols needed a reverse layup with 2.3 seconds remaining to escape with a two-point victory.
"It's going to be a good challenge for us," Summitt said. "We know when we've played there it's always a battle. And that's exactly what we're expecting."
So, too, is Florida. Three of the past four meetings have been decided by single digits. But the No. 5 Vols (15-2, 3-0) come in sitting atop the SEC standings and riding a six-game winning streak. Tennessee has won its conference games by an average of 37.7 points and is holding opponents to 56.4 points.
Four Vols average double figures, and UF is concerned about their size inside, led by 6-foot-6 center Kelley Cain.
"They've got a lot of size on us, so we've got to find different ways to neutralize that," UF coach Amanda Butler said.
Only five current Florida players have faced the Vols, and the Gators (12-5, 2-1) hope their younger players don't get caught up in the Tennessee mystique.
"We have some young players, so they might have some extra jitters playing against such an historic program, but for me I think it's a great opportunity to kind of shock the world and make a statement about who we are and how good we can be," junior guard Jordan Jones said.
Butler has tried to keep this game in perspective, while also recognizing what's at stake.
"I think anybody that says oh, it's just another game or it's no big deal, they are just saying that for the cameras," she said. "It is a big deal because they do represent the best of our conference and what we think about historically in women's basketball as the best. So it is a big deal. But when it's all said and done, there's no bonus point next to it — it counts as one win."