By Jeffrey Swindoll
No. 3 Baylor (17-1, 6-0)
The Lady Bears are without a doubt the hottest team in the conference. Baylor is young, but that has not stopped Baylor head coach Kim Mulkey and her crew in winning 16-straight games this season. The sophomores are showing up big for the Lady Bears. Sophomore forward Nina Davis leads the team with 21.7 points and 8.6 rebounds per game, sophomore post Khadijiah Cave follows with 12.8 and 6 rebounds per game and sophomore Imani Wright scores 10.4 per game.
Oklahoma (12-5, 6-0)
The Sooners are tied with the Lady Bears and are a bit under the radar, but they have managed to pull off some big wins, including over the top-10 ranked Texas Longhorns. Gioya Carter, Kaylon Williams and Peyton little are the Sooners’ trifecta, collectively averaging more than half of the team’s points per game.
Iowa State (13-4, 4-2)
The Cyclones are true to form, when their three-point shooting is on par, they are a tough team to beat. When they are lacking in three-point field goal percentage, they are nearly weaponless. Against conference opponents, the Cyclones are .338 from three-point range (48-142). ISU’s defense allows 67.2 points per game.
TCU (11-6, 3-3)
The Horned Frogs are off to a better start than their last season, which ended with an 8-10 record in the Big 12. Chelsea Prince and Donielle Breaux carry the load of the team’s defensive rebounding. Zahna Medley leads the team with 16.7 and 4 assists per game, shooting .432 from the field.
No. 8 Texas (14-3, 3-3)
Texas’ season started so full of expectation with the conference coaches’ picks to finish first in the Big 12 and an undefeated record before conference play that included a stunning win over highly-ranked Stanford. The Longhorns have faced some trials and tribulations, though. They are still ranked in the top 10 and still not ruled out from winning Big 12 title. However, Texas head coach Karen Aston called for a time of “soul-searching” after a crushing loss to Baylor in Waco, suggesting that the Longhorns have found themselves in a bit of rut.
Texas Tech (12-5, 2-4)
The Red Raiders are little better off than they were at this point last season, but their only two conference wins are against two teams that are struggling to score recently. Amber Battle leads the team in her scoring and rebounding averages per game.
Oklahoma State (12-5, 2-4)
Oklahoma State, like many other teams in the league, depends on select players to carry the team on a consistent basis. Junior guard Brittney Martin, who has some Big 12 player of the week honors to her name, has not given the performances needed to jet her team to victory. OSU head coach Jim Littell, after his team’s limp effort in the loss to Oklahoma on Monday, said his team is “not equipped to cover those points” when Martin and Liz Donohoe are failing to score.
West Virginia (12-6, 2-4)
Just two wins in six games is nowhere near the standard the Mountaineers set for themselves on their road to a share of the Big 12 title with the Lady Bears last season. WVU has had some close games this year though, including one that went down to the wire against Baylor. The Mountaineers were unable to climb past the Lady Bears in that game though. Bria Holmes and Averee Fields are carrying the Mountaineers on their back as the only players averaging double-digit scoring. Much of the Mountaineers’ success is dependent on how Holmes and Fields perform.
Kansas State (11-6,1-5)
It’s a race to the bottom between the two Big 12 school from Kansas. At this point, K-State, just as much as KU, functions as a spoiler team for the rest of the league. The Wildcats actually led at halftime against West Virginia on Wednesday, 25-22, but the Mountaineers answered with an 18-5 run to start the second half. The Wildcats never regained the lead after poor shooting and six turnovers in the second half.
Kansas (1-5, 9-9)
Other than Chelsea Gardner, one of the best players in the league, and Natalie Knight, the Jayhawks do not have much going for them. Knight and Gardner are top contributors in both scoring and rebounding, but there is a huge dropoff after them. Gardner currently boasts 38 blocks on the season. The Jayhawks picked up their first win in the conference on Wednesday after beating Texas Tech 68-66.