UK Women's Basketball

UK notes: Cats say Huskers haven't faced their pressure

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Kentucky's coaches and players have seen lots of Nebraska film this week.

But they still haven't seen a team play the top-seeded Huskers (32-1) the way they plan to play them.

Could UK's physical brand of defense, which has led to 30 steals in two NCAA Tournament games, be the difference?

"We're going to get after them on defense like we do every team," Cats point guard Amber Smith said. "If we play our ball, we'll definitely be able to do the things we've done all season, which is speed things up and force some turnovers."

The Huskers, despite having a freshman point guard (Lindsey Moore) and playing in the rough and tough Big 12, have not been prone to turnovers.

In two tournament games, the Huskers have averaged 14 turnovers, right on par with their season total (14.7).

Their high for the year is 25 turnovers versus Davidson in November.

But that was an anomaly.

UK Coach Matthew Mitchell hopes UK's defense will create problems.

"We're just going to try to make it really, really tough for them to run things," he said. "Now, they're so talented they may make us look pretty silly out there trying to do that."

Guard Keyla Snowden doubted UK would look silly.

"From what we've seen on film, the other teams aren't in the passing lanes and playing that aggressive defense that we know how to play," she said. "That should help us a lot when we play Nebraska. They're used to having teams that let them catch the ball on the wing, but we play denial defense."

Indicator of things to come?

Coming into Saturday, both the Big 12 and the Southeastern conferences had four teams in the final field of 16.

If conference vs. conference is any indicator, the Cats may be in trouble on Sunday against Nebraska.

The Big 12's sixth-best team (Baylor) knocked off the SEC's top team (Tennessee) by 15 points in the Sweet 16 on Saturday.

The Cornhuskers won at Baylor 65-56 on Jan. 17.

Mitchell brushed off any potential significance.

"I don't think it will impact our team at all — give us more confidence or less confidence or more anticipation to play or less," Mitchell said.

Lexington Catholic reunion

In the other game here on Sunday, Notre Dame will take on Oklahoma.

There will be a familiar face on the floor for the Irish in Natalie Novosel. The sophomore was a three-year teammate of UK's Keyla Snowden. The two were both on Lexington Catholic's 2006 championship team.

"I'm happy for her and her team that they made it this far," Snowden said. "Hopefully we'll get to meet up and play each other in the next round."

Novosel comes off the bench for Notre Dame, averaging 4.1 points, 2.2. rebounds, 1.8 assists and 1.4 steals.

The swing player, who was recruited by UK, started the first four games of the season for Notre Dame, but eventually lost that spot to freshman phenom Skylar Diggins.

"It's been sort of a roller- coaster season for me," Novosel admitted. "I started at the beginning of the season, then I started coming off the bench and lost my confidence a little bit."

Ready for Red?

After a comfortable home-court style advantage in the first round at Louisville's Freedom Hall, UK had a long way to travel (588 miles) to play here at the Sprint Center.

Top-seeded Nebraska, the Cats' next opponent, only had to go about 195 miles to get to downtown Kansas City. No. 2 seed Notre Dame is the farthest away at 605 miles. No. 3 seed Oklahoma is about 372 miles.

Huskers star Kelsey Griffin expects a big red turnout despite the game's late start.

"The Nebraska people are just crazy enough to make it out and pack the gym."

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