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Baylor-Kentucky Meet In Rematch Of Epic Game
March 28, 2014
By Wendell Barnhouse | Correspondent

SOUTH BEND, Ind. - What's past is prologue.

William Shakespeare wrote those words (and millions of others) and if he was around today, Ol' Bill probably would have an interest in chronicling March Madness. And the scribe would enjoy the story line involving the Notre Dame Regional semifinal game between Baylor and Kentucky Saturday.

In early December during an ice storm, the Lady Bears and the Wildcats heated up AT&T Stadium with a four-overtime classic. Kentucky prevailed, 133-130 – the highest-scoring game in women's college basketball history.

The rematch takes place nearly four months later.

"That was a long time ago," Baylor sophomore point guard Niya Johnson said. "Watching the film of that game, we were just babies."

"You remember your key mistakes and the things you didn't do that would have changed the outcome of the game," said junior Sune Agbuke, who is in her first season as a starter. "It was kinda fun watching the film because it was so long ago. We're basically a different team now than we were then."

Despite replacing five seniors from last year's team, No. 2 seed Baylor earned a share of the Big 12 regular-season championship and then won the tournament title in Oklahoma City. The second-seeded Lady Bears are 4-4 in regional semifinal games.

Baylor's Odyssey Sims scored 47 in the first Kentucky game before she fouled out. After a four-game, season-ending slump where she totaled 62 points in four games, Sims has scored a total of 58 points in the two NCAA victories.

"I hope we're better defensively than we were in that game," said Kentucky coach Matthew Mitchell, noting that four Wildcats tried to slow the Baylor senior. "It's very critical we do a good job in pick and roll situations when Odyssey has the ball. She is a really difficult matchup."

Baylor coach Kim Mulkey credits Sims' leadership in helping the Lady Bears grow.

"A lot of the young, inexperienced players we've had this season have followed her lead," Mulkey said. "She's had a phenomenal year and as it's gone on she has trusted her teammates more. When you do that, it builds confidence and we have a very confident basketball team."

Against Kentucky, Sims was adept in running the high pick and roll attack. Since then, the Wildcats have changed their defensive style.

"They're playing a lot more zone so that's something different from the first time we played 'em," Mulkey said. "We're gonna have to stop their transition game, we'll have to stop dribble penetration and we'll have to attack not only their man-to-man defense but they're zone."

Notre Dame Regional semifinal
11 a.m. Saturday, South Bend, Ind., ESPN.
No. 2 Baylor (31-4) vs. No. 3 Kentucky (26-8)

How the Lady Bears got here: Baylor won the automatic bid from the Big 12 Conference and defeated No. 15 Western Kentucky, 87-74, in the first round and No. 7 California, 75-56, in the second round.

How the Wildcats got here: Kentucky was an at-large selection from the Southeastern Conference. The Wildcats defeated No. 14 Wright State, 106-60, in the first round and No. 6 Syracuse, 64-59, in the second round.

Baylor update: Odyssey Sims is just four points away from becoming the second player in women's NCAA Division I history to score 1,000 points in a season, joining Southwest Missouri State legend Jackie Stiles. … In five post-season games, freshman Nina Davis is averaging 19.8 points and eight rebounds per game in the postseason. She averages 15 points and nine rebounds. … Sophomore point guard Niya Johnson has 231 assists, a school single-season record. … In Baylor's last 288 games, only two opponents (Stanford and West Virginia) have been able to make 50 percent of their shots.

Kentucky update: The Wildcats have reached the Elite Eight each of the last three seasons but they've never made it to the Final Four. … Kentucky has 10 players averaging 10 or more minutes per game and seven players averaging at least 6.7 points per game. … Junior Jennifer O'Neill is the team's leading scorer at 12.7 per game but has only started three games. She scored a school-record 43 in the Wildcats' 133-130 four overtime victory over Baylor in December. … Kentucky has faced 10 ranked teams this season, winning six.

What's next: The winner of Baylor-Kentucky takes on the winner of Oklahoma State-Notre Dame in the regional championship game on Monday.
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