(4) Kentucky 68

(28-8, 11-5 SEC)

(3) Oklahoma 88

(27-10, 11-5 Big 12)

    9:07 PM ET, March 30, 2010

    Sprint Center, Kansas City, Missouri

    1 2 T
    #4UK 39 2968
    #3OKLA 43 4588

    Top Performers

    Kentucky: V. Dunlap 31 Pts, 13 Reb, 3 Ast, 3 Stl

    Oklahoma: N. Stevenson 31 Pts, 2 Reb, 3 Ast, 5 Stl

    Kentucky-Oklahoma Preview

    KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) -- It was a sight that stunned all but the few in Kentucky blue.

    There were the underdog Wildcats, picked to finish 11th in the SEC and playing in its first regional semifinal since 1982, dictating the tempo against top-seeded Nebraska on Sunday night.

    Surely fourth-seeded Kentucky couldn't keep it up, though -- even as they pushed their lead to double digits. These were the vaunted Cornhuskers, a team that had lost just once all year and had the support of thousands of screaming fans who'd made the drive to Kansas City.

    Well, the Wildcats never let up, and their 76-67 upset of Nebraska should put to rest any about whether cat-quick Kentucky belongs in such rarified air.

    The Wildcats (28-7) will shoot for their first trip to the Final Four on Tuesday night when it faces third-seeded Oklahoma (26-10) in the Kansas City Regional final.

    Kentucky took down the Huskers with speed, quickness and lots of pressure. That's exactly the formula they'll try to use to beat the Sooners, who upended Notre Dame in overtime, 77-72, behind Nyeshia Stevenson's 3-pointer with 4.4 seconds left.

    "That's our game plan. We play hard defensively. We get after people," Kentucky point guard Amber Smith said.

    The Wildcats will now try to get after the Sooners, who are much more familiar with the big stage.

    Oklahoma reached the national semifinals last year behind the sensational Paris twins, Courtney and Ashley, and are on the cusp of their third Final Four since 2002.

    The Sooners weren't expected to be here, either, not after losing the Paris twins. The loss of star guard Whitney Hand to a knee injury early in the season could have been a crippling blow.

    The Sooners have kept chugging along with a deep and balanced roster that outlasted the second-seeded Fighting Irish on Sunday night. The Sooners shot 50 percent from 3-point range -- nearly 20 percent above their season average -- and Stevenson's final 3 from the corner was the difference.

    Oklahoma likely wouldn't be back in the regional finals if not for a pair of sensational performances from Abi Olajuwon, the Sooners' 6-foot-4 senior center.

    Olajuwon patiently waited behind Courtney Paris for three years in a reserve role, never averaging more than 2.2 points a game before this year. But she's scored 39 points and grabbed 25 rebounds in the Sooners last two games, and Notre Dame never quite figured out how to stop her.

    "(Olajuwon) is just one of those great stories. Never complained, never whined, never felt like she was getting the raw end of the deal," Oklahoma coach Sherri Coale said. "She just came to work and get better every day, and then when it came time for her to have her opportunity she just took full advantage of it,"

    Kentucky played in three straight WNITs and finished 16-16 last season, which is probably why they were so quickly dismissed before the season.

    But the Wildcats have clicked under third-year coach Matthew Mitchell and are now in the midst of their most successful season yet.

    Junior forward Victoria Dunlap blossomed into the SEC's Player of the Year, and A'dia Mathies, who is averaging 13.8 points and 4.8 rebounds per game, became the first Kentucky player to win the SEC's Freshman of the Year award.

    After nearly knocking off Tennessee in the SEC title game, Kentucky has beaten Liberty, Michigan State and Nebraska to reach its first regional final in 28 years.

    "I think we're all on an emotional high right now," Dunlap said. "Just ready to continue what we're doing, and we know we're not done yet."

    Oklahoma compared Kentucky's frenetic style to Big 12 rival Texas A&M. The problem for the Sooners is that they lost to the Aggies twice this season, including a 74-67 defeat in the Big 12 title game.

    But Oklahoma should be well-equipped to handle the Wildcats' pressure because they've seen it before in league play. They also have one of the nation's top point guards in Danielle Robinson, who's got a little quickness herself.

    "That's a huge concern for me with Oklahoma, just their ability to execute in the halfcourt," said Mitchell, the SEC's Coach of the Year. "It's going to be a mental game for us now. We've going to have to commit more than ever to our defensive fundamentals."


    Gameday Matchup

    Avg Points73.971.7
    Avg Points Allowed58.166.7
    Home Record17-011-3
    Road Record6-68-5
    Current StreakL1L1

    School Info

    Conference SEC Big 12
    Nickname Wildcats Sooners
    Type Public Public


    » Mar 30, 2010 @OKLA 88, UK 68Recap | Box Score

    Starting Lineup

    UK (PPG)
    OKLA (PPG)
    G  A. Franklin C  A. Olajuwon
    F  V. Dunlap F  A. Thompson
    G  A. Smith F  N. Stevenson
    G  K. Snowden G  D. Robinson
    NA  A. Mathies NA  J. Hartman