BRIDGEPORT, Conn. - For the second straight year, Connecticut and Kentucky will face each other in the Elite Eight of the NCAA women's tournament and although the Huskies got the better of them last season, two Wildcats in particular have a deeper connection than vengeance.
Before she became a Wildcat, Samari Walker was a Husky.
Walker joined the Huskies in 2011 as a part of a freshman class that involved Bria Hartley and Stefanie Dolson, but transferred to Kentucky in January of that same year. Playing in just 10 games for UConn, Walker averaged 8.2 points and 7 rebounds in 20.3 minutes per game.
"For me personally, it's another game," said Walker of the upcoming game [Monday, 7:30 p.m., Webster Bank Arena] against her old team. "We want to get back at them from last year. We're very excited for whoever we have to play"
Last season, the Huskies defeated the Wildcats 80-65 behind a game-high 22 points for Tiffany Hayes. In that game, Walker scored 14 points and grabbed five rebounds. She became the first former UConn player to play against coach Geno Auriemma.
"It's a completely different team from when I was there and we have a completely different team," Walker said about the matchup. "So, I really don't know what they're gonna do, I don't really know a lot about their players. I haven't watched them play a lot this season, but I know the coaches are gonna prepare us very well."
Walker has started in all 35 of Kentucky's games this season and is averaging 8.9 points and 8.3 rebounds per contest.
Although Kastine Evans never played for UConn, her older brother R.J. just finished playing in his only season for the Huskies as a graduate student.
"I'm sure my brother will joke about it for a little bit, but I know at the end of the day he'll be rooting for Kentucky," Evans said. "I mean he only played their once and I've been his sister for 20 years. So at the end of the day I think he'll be rooting for us, but I'm sure there will be a couple jokes in between."
With 2:47 remaining in their Sweet 16 game against Delaware and with the Wildcats up 62-60, Evans hit a crucial 3-pointer that helped the Wildcats earn their 69-62 victory. Kastine and R.J. may be siblings, but they do not share everything, especially not the inside scoop on opposing teams.