By Jeffery Swindoll
After an impressive night against Oklahoma State on Sunday, Mulkey said she likes the way the No. 7 Lady Bears (20-3, 10-1) rose in terms of confidence not just from her star players, but from her team as a whole in their past few games.
“We’re passing the ball to a lot of different positions and those players are looking to shoot,” Mulkey said. “We’re in a mind frame right now which is good. When you’re relaxed and you’re confident, you don’t make as many mistakes.”
The recent form of the team will be a boost going in to a hostile crowd at Texas Tech (6-17, 0-12) in another Big 12 clash at 6:30 p.m. today in Lubbock at United Spirit Arena.
“I experienced it firsthand, and it can be brutal there,” Mulkey said. “I anticipate that it’s going to be like all other games in that when Baylor comes to town it’s going to bring out all the fans and the student section. We have to ignore it, and we just have to play.”
The Lady Bears dominated Texas Tech 92-43 in their previous contest this season.
However, that was in the comfort of Baylor’s Ferrell Center. Players and Mulkey agree that just because it was a blowout last time, it will not be a cakewalk in Lubbock.
“It can be pretty tough,” senior guard Makenzie Robertson said. “They can get loud and crazy, but you just have to welcome it, accept it and do what you can to move past it.”
Aside from homecourt advantage, a major reason Texas Tech struggled to get anything going in their loss against Baylor last week was Baylor’s efficient use of press defense.
Mulkey did not run the press all game, but chose to use it in specific situations. It proved to be effective in forcing turnovers and errant shots out of Texas Tech.
Mulkey said she may run more of the press, but she is not basing her entire defensive game plan around it.
She said she likes her man-to-man defense and rarely ever strays far from that philosophy.
Transition and half-court offense in general are not Mulkey’s concerns against Texas Tech.
Every game, Mulkey said she is defensively-minded with preparation and making sure her team is winning the rebound battle.
“I think [Texas Tech’s] rebounding is much better,” Mulkey said. “When I watch them play, they play with excitement. They play with energy, and I expect it to be that way on Wednesday.”
Baylor’s offensive post game has been better, but junior post Sune Agbuke admitted she is not satisfied.
“We need to get more production out of our post and not just [freshman forward Nina Davis],” Agbuke said. “I think it’ll help us just going the rest of the season just being a threat in the paint. I do think we’re playing pretty well, but we can get a lot better.”
The Lady Bears expect to have another good night of rebounding against a Texas Tech team that may not have as much imposing height as other teams in the Big 12 do.
“You definitely want to take advantage of being able to rebound and finish when [other teams] aren’t as big,” Agbuke said.
Baylor has been in the zone offensively as of late, going up by double digits in their past four games.
Senior guard Odyssey Sims went through a bit of a slump earlier in the season but is back to her high-scoring ways, posting 33 points against Oklahoma State on Sunday. Sims leads the league, averaging 30.2 points per game.
Davis and sophomore guard Niya Johnson were also in double figures against OSU. Jonhson leads the country in assist/turnover ratio at 3.87. Overall, the team is more confident passing and shooting the ball, Robertson said.
“I’m definitely becoming more confident,” Robertson said. “I think I’m just settling into the swing of things, actually playing more and getting used to the ball coming to me.”
The game will not be televised, but will be broadcast on radio and online by the Baylor Sports Network.