The loss of another starter to injury may end up hurting Connecticut later in the season. For now, though, the Huskies will stay right where they've been for weeks. Even without Mel Thomas, the second starter to go down with a torn anterior ligament, the Huskies are hanging at No. 1.
And why not? It seems a bit reminiscent of the 2000-01 season when the Huskies lost stars Svetlana Abrosimova and Shea Ralph to injuries. That didn't stop Connecticut, led by freshman Diana Taurasi, from reaching the Final Four.
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Conneticut Huskies (18-0)
When senior guard Mel Thomas, who led the team in three-point shooting and minutes, suffered an ACL tear, the Huskies had to rely on a few young players to step up. Maya Moore has been in the spotlight all season and already leads the team with 16.6 points a game. Now, freshman Lorin Dixon will have a chance to make an impact after replacing Thomas in the starting lineup. Dixon, who averages 11.3 minutes, was impressive in her first start with 35 minutes and had seven assists.
Next three: 1/27 at Notre Dame; 1/30 vs. South Florida; 2/2 vs. Providence
Tennessee Lady Vols (16-1)
Coach Pat Summitt was concerned about the Lady Vols' lack of depth inside after Tennessee beat Kentucky last Thursday 65-40, without 6-3 Alex Fuller. But Fuller returned Sunday against Vanderbilt, and hit 2-of-3 from beyond the arc. The 20 minutes she played enabled the Lady Vols, who have just nine healthy players, to balance everyone's minutes.
Next three: 1/24 vs. Arkansas; 1/28 at Duke; 1/31 at Ole Miss
North Carolina Tar Heels (17-2)
Last Thursday's win over Boston College gave senior forward Erlana Larkins a chance to rest a broken left hand she's been playing with. Larkins, who averaged 11 points and 8.3 rebounds before the injury, is averaging 12.1 points and 8.3 rebounds since.
Next three: 1/26 vs. Maryland; 1/31 at Wake Forest; 2/4 at Duke
Maryland Terrapins (22-1)
Crystal Langhorne has certainly made up for lost time. After missing the first six games with an ankle injury, she's climbing her way up the team's scoring list. She scored a season-high 31 in a 99-95 win in overtime over Georgia Tech on Sunday. Her .638 field goal percentage should be one of the 10 best in the country.
Next three: 1/26 at North Carolina; 1/31 vs. Miami; 2/04 at Virginia Tech
Rutgers Scarlet Knights (15-2)
Rutgers is another team that lost a key starter to an ACL injury. Freshman guard Khadijah Rushdan tore the ligament in her right knee last month. But the Scarlet Knights have a lineup intact that reached the title game last season, including Essence Carson, who doesn't seem bothered by the stress fracture that forced her to miss some time in December. She's played more than 36 minutes a game and is averaging just over 13 points since returning to the starting lineup four games ago.
Next three: 01/22 at Cincinnati; 01/26 vs. Villanova; 01/29 at West Virginia
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