DAYTON, Ohio -- It only took a minute to raise the temperature of the Ohio State-Tennessee game.
Asked an innocuous opening question about the Buckeyes, Lady Vols post player Glory Johnson wasted little time in offering up material suitable for the bulletin board leading up to today's regional semifinal at the University of Dayton Arena (Noon, ESPN).
"They have a huge post presence, just like ours, but we have more. [We'll] wear out their posts," Johnson said Friday. "Try to push it back on them. They can't run with us. I know for sure they can't run with us."
Ohio State coach Jim Foster might have struck the first blow in the war of words. Earlier this week he was asked what he admired most about Tennessee coach Pat Summitt, whom he butted heads with during his 11 years at Southeastern Conference rival Vanderbilt.
"She's done a great job of getting great players," he said evenly. There was no mention of developing them or being a great bench coach for the woman who has an NCAA-record 1,070 wins against just 198 losses, an astounding .844 success rate.
Foster said his relationship with Summitt during his years in the same state and same conference could be summed up in three words: "No love lost."
He did lighten the mood by joking about Tennessee's omnipresent color scheme: "I don't even eat orange M&Ms. They don't taste as good as the other ones."
Summitt isn't jumping into the fray.
"I have a lot of respect for Jim," she said. "We had some knockdown, drag-out games. He did a great job at Vanderbilt, there's no doubt about that. He's going to have his team ready to play tomorrow."
Whether the top-seeded Lady Vols (33-2) can mute the production of Ohio State (24-9) star center Jantel Lavender, and whether the Buckeyes can run with Tennessee, are the two major subplots of the game. The winner will meet either Notre Dame (28-7) or 23-11 Oklahoma (2 p.m., ESPN) on Monday with a trip to the Final Four hanging in the balance.
In the other regional semifinals tonight in Spokane, Wash., host Gonzaga (30-4) will face 22-12 Louisville (9 p.m., ESPN) while North Carolina (27-8) faces 31-2 Stanford (11:30 p.m., ESPN2), coached by Buffalo Seminary graduate Tara VanDerveer.
Shoni Schimmel's career-high 33 points, including the first nine points in a deciding 21-5 run, propelled the Cardinals past second-seeded Xavier, 85-75, and back to the round of 16 Tuesday.
For Gonzaga, Courtney Vandersloot has grabbed the headlines with 34 points and seven assists against Iowa, and 29 points and 17 assists against UCLA in the tournament so far.