by Mike Potter
Is there such a thing as an unbeatable team?
That question may be tested in women's basketball tonight.
Defending NCAA champion and top-ranked Connecticut will bring a 56-game winning streak to Cameron Indoor Stadium for a 7 p.m. ESPN2 game against No. 7 Duke, which has won 23 straight games at home.
It's one of two women's college games in Durham today, as N.C. Central hosts Savannah State at 4 p.m.
Joanne P. McCallie's Blue Devils (15-2) are having a great season so far, with their only losses at Texas A&M and at No. 2 Stanford. The Blue Devils' biggest win so far was in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge, an 83-67 rout of No. 3 Ohio State at Cameron on Dec. 3.
"Well, we might put a sixth player on the floor," McCallie said during a teleconference about the game. "No, we just have to work on our game. There's no magical formula or anything from our end ... I think it's a great opportunity. I don't know how important it is, I really don't. I think it's a great opportunity, and they're a great, great team. I don't know how they can keep winning as much as they do, but they sure do. They're amazing. I think any time people call them the greatest team ever with the two greatest players ever that's just an opportunity to learn something about ourselves and see what we can do."
Those two players are junior forward Maya Moore and senior center Tina Charles, who UConn coach Geno Auriemma has called the two best in the country. Few have tried to argue the point.
"I think that's just people's opinion that they're just unbeatable," Duke junior guard Jasmine Thomas said. " ... Yeah, I mean it's a great team, of course. A very disciplined, very tough team to beat. I think if we're just on all cylinders, if all of us our focused, and we're at home and just play off all the energy, I think we'll be fine."
Duke is 3-5 all-time against teams ranked No. 1 nationally, but the Blue Devils have won three straight meetings with No. 1 teams.
"You play your game," Duke senior post Joy Cheek said of the challenge. "You have to be ready. You have to be in attack mode all the time. We play pressure defense, and we have to play pressure defense. We can't change because we're playing Connecticut. We have to play Duke basketball. Going in, that's what we're going to do. We're going to play the way that we play. We're still going to play pressure defense, still going to go inside-out. We're not going to change anything. We're just going to continue to do what we do. ...
"It's about pride sometimes. This is our court. This is Cameron. This is where Duke plays. We're going to come out hard, and we're going to attack. You just have to be ready for their attack and counterattack that."
N.C. Central vs. Savannah State
[Monday, 4 p.m., McDougald-McLendon Gym]
SSU leads series 5-2.
Records: SSU 8-13, NCCU 5-11.
Audio: WRJD-AM 1410, NCCUEaglePride.com.
Coaches' records - SSU: Cedric Baker 365-331, 59-133 at SSU; NCCU: Joli Robinson 202-183.
Leading scorers - SSU: Crissa Jackson 10.0; NCCU: Joanna Miller 19.4.
Leading rebounders - SSU: Alisha Nelson 7.6; NCCU: Latoya Bennett 6.8.
Assist leaders - SSU: Crissa Jackson 3.6; NCCU: Danielle DeBerry 3.2.
No. 7 Duke vs. No. 1 Connecticut
[Monday, 7 p.m., Cameron Indoor Stadium]
UConn leads series 4-3.
Records: Duke 15-2; UConn 17-0.
Audio: WDNC-AM 620, GoDuke.com, UConnHuskies.com.
Coaches' records - UConn: Geno Auriemma 713-122; Duke: Joanne P. McCallie 383-166, 67-18 at Duke.
Leading scorers - UConn: Tina Charles and Maya Moore 18.2; Duke: Jasmine Thomas 15.6.
Leading rebounders - UConn: Tina Charles 8.9; Duke: Krystal Thomas 7.6.
Assist leaders - UConn: Caroline Doty 4.0; Duke: Jasmine Thomas 5.0.