published Saturday, March 23rd, 2013

Nebraska has respect for UTC

Nebraska coach Connie Yori speaks during a news conference before practice for a first-round game in the women's NCAA college basketball tournament in College Station, Texas.
Nebraska coach Connie Yori speaks during a news conference before practice for a first-round game in the women's NCAA college basketball tournament in College Station, Texas.
Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

COLLEGE STATION, Texas — Nebraska coach Connie Yori said Friday that she's watched a lot more of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga women's basketball team than its upset of Tennessee.

In preparing for today's NCAA tournament first-round game between the 11-seed Lady Mocs (29-3) and her sixth-seeded Cornhuskers (23-8) at Texas A&M's Reed Arena, Yori said, "We've watched everything we could get our hands on."

While the season-opening upset of the Lady Vols stands out, UTC has done a lot more than pull off one big win, Yori said during Friday's news conference.

"Obviously that's a great win for them to start the season, but Chattanooga's been impressive throughout the season," she said. "You don't win 19 games in a row, you don't win 29 games without having good players and being a well-coached team. And they have both of those things."

Huskers point guard Lindsey Moore said the key for Nebraska will be rebounding. UTC averages 40.1 rebounds a game and has a plus-4.7 rebounds-per-game margin. Nebraska averages 40.2 with a margin of plus-3.3.

Second-chance points put UTC in the NCAA tournament -- UTC guard Kayla Christopher scored the game-winning points in the Southern Conference tournament final with a putback -- and Moore said the Huskers have to limit the Lady Mocs' opportunities.

"They have good inside post presence with a couple of their posts, so we need to limit their inside post touches as much as possible, and rebound," Moore said. "That's the key to the game, making sure we take care of our defensive glass."

Little NCAA Experience

It's been a few years since the Lady Mocs have played in the NCAA tournament and gone through the formal procedures, like Friday's moderated news conference and 90-minute practice. Seniors Kylie Lambert and Christopher are the only Lady Mocs who have NCAA experience, having played as freshmen in 2010 when UTC lost to Oklahoma State in the opening round -- after leading by 18 at halftime.

UTC coach Wes Moore said he didn't know if the Lady Mocs' lack of tournament experience -- Nebraska made the NCAAs last season, losing in the first round -- will be a big deal or not.

"In our situation, when you're a mid-major, that conference tournament is a whole lot of pressure," he said. "In a way, I hope that they feel a little bit less. I think right now we get to be the hunter and not the hunted, so I think that's kind of exciting, to trade roles and be the underdog."

Multiple Connections

Texas A&M, which plays 14-seed Wichita State today and will likely face the UTC-Nebraska winner, is coached by Gary Blair, a longtime friend of Moore's. They're both from the Dallas area and they're both die-hard Texas Rangers fans.

"We have a good time together," Moore said. "He's a great guy and what he's done here is amazing."

The Aggies won the 2011 national championship.

Moore also knows Wichita State coach Jody Adams, the former Bradley Central star who played for the Lady Vols.

"I've known Jody for a long time," he said, "and she's done a great job of putting Wichita State on the map this year and getting them in the tournament."

about John Frierson...

John Frierson is in his seventh year at the Times Free Press and seventh year covering University of Tennessee at Chattanooga athletics. The bulk of his time is spent covering Mocs football, but he also writes about women’s basketball and the big-picture issues and news involving the athletic department. A native of Athens, Ga., John grew up a few hundred yards from the University of Georgia campus. Instead of becoming a Bulldog he attended Ole ...

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