By Krista Pirtle
The Lady Bears look to extend their nation-leading winning streak of 18 games as they take on the defending Big 12 champions, Nebraska, at 7:05 p.m. today in Lincoln, Neb.
The Cornhuskers are 2-6 in conference play, ranking them 10th.
“They lost a lot,” Baylor head coach Kim Mulkey said. “They’ve got a kid that’s hurt. And [head coach Connie Yori] really only has two seniors in the rotation now.”
Senior guard Dominique Kelley was a major offensive threat before her knee injury.
Today could be a reversal of fortune from the defeat Nebraska handed Baylor last January, a game that Lady Bears senior Melissa Jones could only watch from the bench with a stress reactor injury.
In that game, the No. 11 ranked Cornhuskers eventually pulled away from the No. 9 ranked Lady Bears for a 65-56 victory. The senior-laden Nebraska squad committed fewer mistakes down the stretch while Baylor, missing its floor general in Jones, could not find the clutch baskets it needed.
“You want to get back on the floor and play against the teams you weren’t able to last year,” Jones said. “Getting the chance to go out there and be able to play them will be exciting.”
For Nebraska, freshman forward Jordan Hooper leads the team’s scoring, able to take defenders off the dribble, pull down boards and accurately shoot from anywhere on the hardwood.
“They’ve got a freshman, Hooper, that nobody knew about,” Mulkey said. “Nobody recruited her. [She] just has made this big splash at Nebraska, and she’s good.”
On paper, today’s game looks over before the teams tip off, with the Lady Bears holding an advantage over the Cornhuskers in nearly every aspect of the game. But the one factor that can’t be told on paper is the home court advantage.
“This year we’ve had a very good crowd, both from Baylor and the opposing teams just wanting to come out and watch us play,” junior Ashley Field said. “Having them out there, you do want to do good. You do want to show them what we have and who we are as Baylor.”
Mulkey knows her team is definitely stronger this season, but knows not to overlook a road game.
“Anybody on their home floor is hard to beat,” Mulkey said. “I don’t care who you play in this league. On any given night, when you’re on the road too many bad things can happen. And we’ve got to remain focused and stay focused and see if we can’t go on the road and try to win another one.”
Jones said the team is just taking things one game at a time.
“It’s obviously a lot harder to go play and get a win on the road, and some of the games that we snuck out with a win have just been crazy how we haven’t played to the best of our ability,” Jones said. “But really, we’re just taking it game by game. I don’t think we’re looking at that overall goal, just focused on one thing at a time.”
Despite their 21-1 record, the Baylor still ranks No. 4 in national RPI behind Duke, Connecticut and Tennessee.
Today’s game can be heard on Internet radio at baylorbears.com.