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Snowden's milestone meaningful to both player, coach

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With 14 points in an 81-47 victory over Northeastern, Keyla Snowden eclipsed 1,000 points for her collegiate career. (Chet White, UK Athletics) With 14 points in an 81-47 victory over Northeastern, Keyla Snowden eclipsed 1,000 points for her collegiate career. (Chet White, UK Athletics)
Out of high school, Keyla Snowden did not have the opportunity to play at her hometown school. Instead, she enrolled at Akron in 2007 and averaged 14.2 points as a freshman. She caught the eye of second-year Kentucky head coach Matthew Mitchell in her first collegiate season and eventually accepted an offer to become a Wildcat.

A few years later, Snowden has a pair of trips to the NCAA Tournament under her belt and played a key role on UK's Elite Eight team in 2009-10. Now, you can add another bullet point to Snowden's resume: 1,000-point scorer.

"I think it's an incredible accomplishment," Mitchell said. "Keyla Snowden has had some terrific, terrific moments at Kentucky. For a kid that was not recruited at this level out of high school and now to get a chance to come back here and play at a high level (is great)."

Scoring 14 points as her team moved to a 3-0 with a 81-47 victory over Northeastern, Snowden is up to 1,002 points. Being able to reach the milestone while playing in her hometown of Lexington, Ky., makes it that much more special.

"I'm really happy," Snowden said. "I feel a sense of accomplishment and I feel proud of myself for being able to do that. I just want to say how thankful I am for getting the opportunity to come back and play her in front of my hometown and my family."

It was Mitchell who gave the opportunity to Snowden, so hearing how happy he is in light of her achievement is nice too.

"It means a lot coming from our coach," Snowden said. "He was the one that gave me the opportunity here so I'm really thankful he was able to do that for me. I hope I'm able to continue to play hard for my team and be a positive person out on the court."

Mitchell is already counting on Snowden to do just that. The senior is coming off the bench as a part of UK's second unit and helped lead the Cats to yet another blistering first half, forcing 27 turnovers and grabbing a 48-14 halftime lead. However, the visiting Huskies played the Cats to a standstill in the second half, which derived from a lapse in focus on the part of the Cats.

"We clearly didn't have as good an effort in the second half and that's going to be the challenge for this team, to try to figure out how to keep the intensity going and it's not easy," Mitchell said. "It's difficult to do."

Mitchell pointed primarily to Snowden's second group when evaluating the disappointing play.

"I think that our second group, for whatever reason, didn't come with a lot of intensity tonight in the second half," Mitchell said.

With a lead as big as 41 points, sustaining effort and energy is a very difficult proposition, but Snowden knows they must do better. She's been through the rigors of a Southeastern Conference schedule and realizes the Cats are setting the tone for the rest of the season in the way they play these early games.

"The second group, we come and we're supposed to continue the energy that the first group had," Snowden said. "A lot of times we lose focus and let the score get to us mentally and that's not supposed to happen. We're going to work harder in practice and not let the score affect us."

Make no mistake though, there's plenty to be excited about with this Kentucky team. Mitchell is happy his team is winning games and even happier there are so many things to work on even in a 34-point blowout win.

"As a coach, you know there are going to be nights when you're not up 30 so you're trying to coach each possession," Mitchell said. "I'm not down on the team at all. I just think this is part of the process."

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