By Jeffrey Swindoll
The No. 12 Baylor Lady Bears (14-3, 4-1) are looking to bounce back in another Big 12 face-off against the Kansas State Wildcats (8-9, 2-4) at 7 p.m. tonight at the Ferrell Center.
“After a loss on the road [against Kansas], we’re looking forward to playing at home,” Baylor head coach Kim Mulkey said.
The Lady Bears have not lost at home in Big 12 play since 2010, posting a 29-game win streak that will be on the line tonight.
Baylor is in the mix at the top of the conference, right behind Oklahoma State (16-1, 5-1) and West Virginia (16-2, 5-1).
Baylor leads Kansas State in a number of statistical categories, including field goals (.444 percent), 3-pointers (.326 percent) and free throws made (.732 percent).
On paper, the Lady Bears seem to have the upper hand over Kansas State, but the same could have been said about the Lady Bears’ matchup against the Kansas Jayhawks.
Senior guard Odyssey Sims leads the conference and the nation with 31.1 points per game. Against Big 12 teams, Sims averages 35.4 points per game as the Big 12’s best scorer.
“We didn’t step up to the challenge [against Kansas],” senior guard Mackenzie Robertson said. “I think, now that that’s happened, we’re more focused and we understand we have to go hard and get better every chance we get.”
Baylor’s defense is not necessarily Mulkey’s concern at this point; it is the offense that has been raising concerns after the Kansas game.
In the second half, Baylor was outscored 45-28 as a result of turnovers and poor shooting against the Jayhawks.
Other than the Kansas game, Mulkey is positive about how the team has been playing this season, but she said she wants other players to step up around Sims.
“We’re asking a lot from Odyssey,” Mulkey said. “We’ve got to be a confident team, regardless of whether you’re inexperienced or not. You’ve got to be confident to play at this level.”
Sophomore guard Niya Johnson and junior post Sune Agbuke each have stepped up in their own respective categories. Johnson leads the team with 6.5 assists per game, ranking 14th in the nation in assists. Agbuke is Baylor’s top rebounder with 7.9 boards per game.
“I think we just got exposed on a lot of things,” Agbuke said. “Kansas’ defense was really confusing. We knew what Coach Mulkey was calling, but we didn’t really understand what we were looking at on the floor. We’ve worked on that in practice and film to get better against Kansas State.”
Both Mulkey and Baylor have a favorable record against Kansas State. Mulkey is 19-4 and Baylor is 21-8 all-time against Kansas State.
The Wildcats are coming into this game after a critical 80-74 win over conference rival, Iowa State.
Kansas State freshman guard Leticia Romero is the reigning Big 12 Freshman of the Week. The Spain native leads the team with 14.6 points and 5.9 rebounds per game. Junior guard Ashia Woods is Kansas State’s secondary scoring threat with 11 points per game.
Kansas State and Baylor tip-off tonight at 7 p.m. at the Ferrell Center. The game will not be televised.