By Krista Pirtle
The No. 1 Baylor Lady Bears have a four-hour bus trip to Norman, Okla. to take on the Oklahoma Sooners (12-5, 4-2) today, a trip the men’s team came back victoriously from Tuesday.
The Sooners are coming off back-to-back wins on the road against Kansas State (65-57) and at home against Texas (73-67).
Baylor remains undefeated and looks to increase its win streak to 20 and its conference wins to 7-0, the third time it would happen in Baylor history.
Spanning over the years, the wins fall in favor of Oklahoma, who is 24-13 against the Lady Bears.
These two teams have split their past 10 matchups, with Baylor winning the previous two.
Oklahoma, however, is 0-12 when up against a top seed.
“When we go there, they’ve only lost one game at home, and that’s what you’re supposed to do, protect your home floor,” head coach Kim Mulkey said. “I don’t anticipate it to be any different: down to the wire.”
On the season, Oklahoma is 6-1 at home, with a record crowd expected, as this evening is “Cheer like a champion” night at Lloyd Noble Center.
“They always have a nice crowd that comes out and supports them,” junior center Brittney Griner said. “They’re going to give us their best shot. It’s going to be a good environment to play a women’s game.”
In order for Baylor to truly be successful, the Lady Bears must shut down sophomore guard Aaryn Ellenburg, the reigning Big 12 Player of the Week. Ellenburg averaged 26 points in both games against Baylor last season and has recorded 18.2 points per game this season overall.
Playing the perimeter alongside Ellenburg is current Big 12 Freshman of the Week Sharane Campbell, who has shot 62.2 percent from the floor at home.
As far as rebounding goes, Baylor is increasing its dominance on the boards as junior forward Destiny Williams leads the conference in pulling down an average of 12.3 boards per game.
Oklahoma lost its top rebounder in junior forward Joanna McFarland, who is sidelined with a fractured jaw.
“Injuries have affected their team,” Mulkey said. “They’re playing at home and they have a great leader shooter. They’re playing like they don’t miss them.”
Similar to the Lady Bears, the Sooners have a trio of players averaging double digit scoring: Ellenburg, junior guard Whitney Hand (11.9) and the injured McFarland.
“They have great leadership in Whitney Hand,” Mulkey said. “She is the extension of their coach on the floor.”
In the paint, Griner will not be the tallest by half a foot but merely 2 inches.
The 6-foot-6-inch sophomore center Nicole Griffin has recorded 36 blocks on the season and averages 5.8 points per game.
“She’s gotten better because of minutes played,” Mulkey said. “She just plays very, very hard and doesn’t try to do anything she’s not capable of doing.”
The game will be televised on Fox Sports Network at 7 p.m. today.
After tonight’s game, the Lady Bears will return to Waco to host Kansas at 7 p.m. Saturday.
Two games in three days will be a test for Baylor.
“We’re just taking it one game at a time,” Griner said.