By Matt Larsen
After staying in Waco long enough to welcome and quickly usher out No. 11/13 Oklahoma 92-70, the No. 1 Lady Bears now hit the road again to take on the Sooners’ in-state rival, Oklahoma State at 1 p.m. Sunday.
The Cowgirls have struggled to get their conference season rolling, bringing a 13-7 overall record but a 1-6 conference mark into Sunday’s matchup.
Their only conference win came at home, where they took down Colorado 58-49.
During nonconference play they lost just one home game, falling to No. 3/5 Duke 73-45.
Baylor hosted Oklahoma State on Jan. 15 of this year, and the Lady Bears (20-1, 7-0) will look to pack up just about everything from their first meeting with the Cowgirls this season and take it up to Stillwater.
“The only way you’re going to win a Big 12 championship and if you’re going to carry number one in front of your name, you’ve got to win on the road,” head coach Kim Mulkey said after the first matchup.
So far in 2011, the Lady Bears have done so in conference play.
Baylor claimed victories over Texas and Kansas on their home floors and most recently held on to defeat Texas A&M in Reed Arena, 63-60.
The trip to Stillwater will be a little different for Mulkey’s squad, though.
“We don’t have fond memories of Stillwater from last year,” she said after the Oklahoma game.
In the 2010 conference opener, then No. 23 Oklahoma State upended No. 5 Baylor’s 13-game winning streak with a 78-65 upset.
The 43 points scored by then-senior guard Andrea Riley made the biggest difference for Oklahoma State in that game.
The Cowgirls miss their second-team All-American guard for her points and her senior leadership.
OSU features just three upperclassmen and its three leading scorers consist of two freshmen and a sophomore.
Without Riley, the Cowgirls have shifted their scoring focus to the inside, where sophomore Toni Young and freshman Vicky McIntyre average 13.5 and 10.1 points a game.
Young and McIntyre are also two key reasons why OSU leads the Big 12 in offensive rebounds, hauling in 17.8 a game.
The battle under the Cowgirls’ basket will likely be a focus for both teams as the Lady Bears lead the conference in defensive rebounds, plucking more than 30 boards a game off opponents’ glass.
Baylor outrebounded Oklahoma 32-7 on the Sooners’ end of the court Wednesday and outscored them in the paint, 52-6.
“That’s horrific,” Oklahoma coach Sherri Coale said of her team’s lack of inside success against the Lady Bears.
Sophomore post Destiny Williams, who had 19 points and 11 rebounds against Oklahoma, joins sophomores Brittney Griner and Brooklyn Pope as the dominant forces under the basket on both ends of the court.
“It’s all because of [Griner],” Williams said. “All of the attention went toward her and that gave all of us a great opportunity to cut, or stay close to the rim and knock down easy shots, or get offensive put backs or things like that.”