KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WRCB) - It's not often mid-major women's basketball programs get to play in front of 10,000 screaming fans.
That is, unless you're a regular rival for the University of Tennessee.
Chattanooga head coach Wes Moore is no stranger to the "electric" environment at UT's Thompson-Boling Arena, and believes it can be a fun place to play if you allow it to be.
Last year it was quite the opposite in UTC's 103-43 drubbing at the hands of the Lady Vols.
"I don't think we played as hard as we could. I think the atmosphere got to us a little bit," said senior forward Whitney Hood, whose Lady Mocs (8-3) get a shot at revenge against No. 6 Tennessee (9-3) at 7 p.m. ET Tuesday night. "I think this time around we're a veteran team and we're going to sit down and play."
Moore expects the task to be just as tall as this season with Tennessee returning most of its players from 2010's Elite Eight run.
Chattanooga struggled in its first test against an elite team this year, showing little fight in a 91-31 loss to top-ranked Baylor.
"What's going to happen is you're going to get hit in the mouth, so you have to decide if you're going to get back in there and not let it happen again or say 'I've had enough of that and I don't want anymore,'" said Moore. "It wasn't a whole lot of fun up there last year, and it wasn't a lot of fun at Baylor this year.
"I just hope we can compete and get something out of it by improving as a team."
The Lady Mocs did more than just compete with their in-state rivals in the meeting prior to last season's drubbing. UTC held an eight-point lead with six minutes to play in the 2008 matchup in McKenzie Arena before losing 66-63.
That was the closest Chattanooga's come to snapping an 18-game losing streak in the series that dates back to 1973. Tennessee owns a 24-6 overall edge in the series.
"We just have to go in there and play hard, play our game and not be star struck and scared," said Chattanooga junior guard Kayla Christopher. "Everyone is going to be able to see Chattanooga and Tennessee on the bottom of the ESPN ticker for this game, so we just hope to make Chattanooga proud."
The game will serve as a homecoming of sorts for UTC sophomore forward Faith Dupree. The 6-foot-3 post player starred at Knoxville Webb School before signing with the Lady Vols in 2009. She played one season at UT before transferring to Chattanooga.
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