SOUTH BEND, Ind. – The last time Baylor and Kentucky met, they played one of the most exciting games in the history of women’s basketball.
Neither coach expects another four-overtime thriller Saturday in the NCAA tournament Sweet 16. Still, both are looking forward to another entertaining matchup with a berth in the regional finals on the line.
Kentucky beat Baylor 133-130 in December in Arlington, Texas.
“It was one of those that doesn’t have a big bearing (on Saturday),” Kentucky coach Matthew Mitchell said. “But when the season’s done and you’re looking back at certain moments in time and fun things to celebrate in the season, obviously it’s the highest-scoring game of all time (in Division I women’s basketball) and it garnered a lot of national attention.”
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Mitchell knows for his team to win again, the Wildcats must slow Baylor standout guard Odyssey Sims. Or at least hold her to an “average” game.
“She’s a difficult matchup and doing a great job of not only scoring but finding her teammates,” Mitchell said.
Sims, averaging 28.5 points and second nationally, is 66 points short of Jackie Stiles’ record for points in a season. Stiles scored 1,062 points as a senior at Missouri State in 2000-01.
Sims has improved her scoring by 15.6 points this season, which is the most by a player since 1999, according to STATS.
Baylor coach Kim Mulkey jokes that she hasn’t watched tape of the previous meeting because, “Who wants to look at a loss?” Still, she has faith that the mistakes are fixable.
“We’ll correct what we didn’t do right the first time in Arlington,” Mulkey said. “They were a great team, still are. We’re looking forward to the rematch, but I think we will come out with a little more sense of urgency and get on them a little more than we did.”
Baylor is in the Sweet 16 for the sixth season in a row. The Bears lost to Louisville in the regional semifinals last year.
“With this team being so young, no one expected us being where we are,” Sims said. “We handled it very well, got back to where we were and it’s in our hands to go a little bit further than we did last year.”
The winner will face Notre Dame or Oklahoma State in the regional final Monday night.
Washington to play at UTEP
Texas-El Paso beat Colorado 68-60, setting up a WNIT quarterfinal matchup against the Washington Huskies.
UTEP (27-7) will host Washington (20-13) at 6 p.m. PDT Monday.
BYU faces rugged test
LINCOLN, Neb. – Brigham Young has come up with two of the biggest upsets in the NCAA women’s tournament to get to the school’s first Sweet 16 since 2002.
The 12th-seeded Cougars beat No. 5 seed North Carolina State and No. 4 Nebraska to become the third No. 12 to reach the regional semifinals. But BYU (28-6) faces a much tougher test against top-ranked Connecticut (36-0) in the regional semifinals Saturday.
No one has played UConn within single digits during its 42-game winning streak. The team’s average margin of victory this season is 36 points.
“It’s very intimidating, and they’ve been here every year, so they’re not nervous or excited probably as much as we are,” BYU coach Jeff Judkins said.