Baylor at Texas preview: No outcome certain in the topsy-turvy Big 12

No. 1 Baylor at Texas
Wednesday, Jan. 12, 2011
Frank Erwin Center (16,734)
TV: None
Free live video feed:
Audio Web Stream and live stats:
Radio: KVET-AM 1300 “The Zone” -  Craig Way (pxp) and Carol Ross (analyst).
Series: Texas leads, 57-21. Last meeting: Texas 70-54 (March 7, 2010; Waco)

In the topsy-turvy world of Big 12 women’s basketball, anything can happen on any given night. Or so it seems. Last year, when Baylor was ranked No. 10 they fell to conference cellar dweller Missouri, a team that came into that matchup with a 1-4 record in the Big 12 under former coach Cindy Stein who resigned near the end of the season. This year Missouri has a new leader, former Illinois State head coach Robin Pingeton.

After the loss to Missouri last year, head coach Kim Mulkey, pointed to Baylor’s lack of experienced guard, as a factor in the loss. Junior guard Melissa Jones was injured at the time.

“Right now we’re searching for guards,” Mulkey said the Missouri debacle. “That’s a horrible feeling to have to search.”

While the team started off this season with the loss of their starting point guard Kelli Griffin, the senior quit the team during the preseason, they have the services of freshman Odyssey Sims. The top recruit in her position out of high school has the confidence of an upperclassman and the production in points, assists and rebounds to match.

Baylor bounced back from the Missouri loss last year to beat the then-No. 19 ranked Texas A&M. But in their next contest, the Lady Bears lost to Texas. The Longhorns and Oklahoma were the only teams to beat Baylor twice last year.

Any given night

Just a few days ago on Saturday, the then-No. 22 ranked Texas fell to Missouri in Columbia. The Tigers fought back from a 12-point second half deficit to take the game into overtime and trump the visiting team, 85-80.

“When we were up 12, I thought the game was pretty much over,” said Texas head coach Gail Goestenkors after the loss. “We did just about everything you could wrong.”

Today, Baylor and Texas matchup in Austin and the Longhorns are without sophomore and Waco native Cokie Reed. The 6-4 post was a formidable presence in the paint for the Longhorns last year but is sidelined as she recovers from surgery on her right foot to remove an extra bone and repair a tendon.

The outcome of a game against Texas may be different for the Lady Bears this season if they do not let the psychological effect of losing to Texas twice in a row affect their game. After all, they advanced to the Final Four last  year while Texas was dealt a stunning blow in the NCAA tournament – a defeat on their home court in the first round at the hands of hot-shooting Jene Morris and San Diego State.

After beating Iowa State handily on Saturday in their conference opener, Mulkey said that her team needed to completely change their mindset and turn to preparing for Texas. The Longhorns lead the all-time series between the two teams, 57-21 and has beaten Baylor five times in seven meetings in the past three years.

“It’s a new season, new team for Texas, new team for us,” said Mulkey during the team’s weekly press conference. “We’re trying to win a Big 12 championship and we’re trying to do something with this basketball team at a young age because we are young, other than Melissa and Whitney (Zachariason). We’re trying to do things quickly and the only way you’re going to win a Big 12 championship is to win on the road. This team has not played many games on the road this year. This is our first Big 12 road test and if you’re going to be very good and if you’re going to carry No. 1 in front of your name, you’ve got to win on the road.”

Mulkey is the first individual ever to play for a women’s team ranked No. 1 among AP voters while also later becoming coach of a team selected to No. 1.

Baylor is ranked No. 1 in both the AP and the USA Today/ESPN Coaches’ Polls, a first in program history, for the second straight week.

Baylor Notes:

  • Baylor is led on the season by sophomore post Brittney Griner’s 21.9 points and 7.1 rebounds per game. The sophomore center needs only 27 points to reach the 1,000 point mark in her college career of 50 games so far. It took former Lady Bear and San Antonio Silver Stars star Sophia Young 67 games to reach 1,000 points.
  • Freshman guard Odyssey Sims follows with 12.6 points a contest while senior guard Melissa Jones averages 9.6 points a game. Sophomore forward/post Brooklyn Pope is the team’s second-leading rebounder with 6.9 a game and averaging 8.4 points per contest.

Texas Notes:

  • All but one of Texas’ 11 wins this season have been by double-digit margins.
  • Senior guard Kathleen Nash and junior post Ashley Gayle are leading the Big 12 Conference in free throw percentage and rebounding, respectively. Nash is shooting 91.8 percent (56-of-61) from the line and has connected on her last 17 attempts in four games. Gayle is pulling down 9.9 rebounds per game and ranks second in the league with 4.4 blocks per game.
  • In the last four games, freshman guard Chassidy Fussell has averaged a team-best 18.8 points per game. Additionally, she is grabbing 5.8 rebounds per contest.
  • Goestenkors, a former head coach at Duke is 5-2 all-time against Baylor.
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