UK Women's Basketball

Kentucky's Snowden playing complete game in limited minutes

Keyla Snowden dribbled around South Carolina's La'Keisha  Sutton. Snowden helped spark UK's 20-4 second-half run.
Keyla Snowden dribbled around South Carolina's La'Keisha Sutton. Snowden helped spark UK's 20-4 second-half run. ASSOCIATED PRESS

Keyla Snowden doesn't have diamonds in mind.

The Kentucky guard isn't talking about the big, white dress, even if it sounds that way at first.

"I definitely want to get a ring," the senior said.

Maybe she even wants a couple of them.

"This is our opportunity to get a ring and show that we're a top contender, not only in our conference but in the NCAA," she continued after a recent win on the road.

So the former Lexington Catholic standout — who got two state championship rings playing there — has become quite serious about this aforementioned piece of jewelry.

After scoring in double digits in only four Southeastern Conference games all of last season, Snowden has come off the bench to score in double figures in four of the Cats' past five games, all wins in the SEC, which they sit atop heading to Auburn (10-10, 2-5) on Thursday.

In seven conference games, Snowden is second on the team in scoring, averaging 11.1 points in just 18.1 minutes of play.

Those numbers caused her coach to describe her as "probably one of the most productive players in the conference as far as her minutes go and what she gets out of it," Matthew Mitchell said on Wednesday. "I don't know how Keyla Snowden could be playing any better, even if we played her more minutes."

He is especially pleased with the variety of ways that Snowden is finding to score.

She came to UK from Akron, known primarily as a three-point specialist, much to her head coach's chagrin.

"I don't like specialty players," he said flatly. "It's our job as coaches to teach these kids how to play the game and how to be complete basketball players. There were days where I didn't think she wanted to do that and she heard it from me. I'd say there have been a lot of days where she felt like she couldn't do anything right."

But she listened and she heard.

Snowden has hit eight three-pointers in seven league games, but take out her three-point statistics and the guard is making 41 percent of her shots from the floor.

Despite being a petite, 5-foot-7 player, Snowden said she has no qualms about driving around bigger defenders to get a shot closer to the basket.

But she also knows her strengths.

"When the three's there, I'm going to take it," she said with a wide smile. "I know driving to the basket will open up my shot later on."

She's tied for first place on UK's team for free-throw attempts in SEC play and she's connected on 84.6 percent of her tries.

"Her stats aren't even what I'm impressed with, it's her attitude and her toughness," Mitchell said before UK's trip to Georgia last week. "She has really, really been tough. ... It's been a real evolution of Keyla Snowden from being considered a stand-still shooter and a weapon, to now just a really top-level Southeastern Conference basketball player."

Snowden has done something else that has caught Mitchell's eye. One of three seniors on the team, she has blossomed into a vocal leader on and off the floor.

It started with a team meeting after the Cats' last loss on Dec. 28 at Middle Tennessee State.

"We all talked about how that wasn't the direction we wanted our season to go," Snowden said. "After losing that game we all just regrouped and came up with a plan that we were going to work harder and not have to feel that feeling again."

Kentucky hasn't had that feeling of losing since then.

The Cats are in the lead in the SEC and it's a place they wish to stay.

"We're on the path to doing something that no team here has ever done," Snowden said. "You have to kind of keep that in your mind so you know what you're working for. It's definitely in our heads."

It stays in her head so she can get a little something for her finger.

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