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 Sweet 16. Still, both are looking forward to another entertaining matchup with a berth in the regional final on the line.
“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 and it garnered a lot of national attention.”
Mitchell knows for his team to win again, it must slow Baylor guard Odyssey Sims.
“She’s a difficult matchup and doing a great job of not only scoring but finding her teammates,” Mitchell said.
Baylor Coach Kim Mulkey jokes that she hasn’t watched tape of December’s 133-130 loss 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.
The winner will face Notre Dame or Oklahoma State in the regional final Monday night.
Five things to know about the Baylor-Kentucky game:
SCORING RECORD: 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.
STELLAR FRESHMAN: Nina Davis wasn’t the most heralded freshman coming into the season, yet she’s been the most indispensable for Baylor this year. Davis is averaging 15.1 points and 8.9 rebounds and has been a steady force in the middle despite being just 5-foot-11.
“She’s worked her way into the lineup and just developed into a player that quietly does her job,” Mulkey said.
BACK IN THE SWEET 16: With the loss of Brittney Griner and five other seniors, Baylor was expected to take a step back this season. Yet the Bears are back in the Sweet 16 for the sixth straight season.
WHISTLEFEST: In the first meeting there were 80 fouls. The teams combined to shoot 112 free throws and 10 players fouled out. Every starter on Baylor except for Mackenzie Robertson fouled out.
“I don’t think 80 something fouls are going to be called,” Kentucky junior Bria Goss said.
BELIEVING IN BASKETBALL: When he first got the Kentucky job, Mitchell knew things were different. He had a clue when he got stuck in traffic before a men’s exhibition game.
“The men’s basketball situation is really nuts,” he said. “The whole state comes together almost like a religious experience, like they are worshipping in the same church for a few hours.”