After Baylor’s victory over then No.13 Oklahoma State last week, the Lady Bears earned back their No. 1 ranking that was lost to Stanford in November, marking the Lady Bears’ 29th week in the top spot.
“We will embrace it like we always do and go play the next ball game,” Baylor head coach Kim Mulkey said. “It’s not going to change our approach any, but it’ll bring some good recognition to Baylor.”
After the change in the rankings, Baylor’s next opponent, Iowa State, jumped into the AP Poll at No. 25 meaning Baylor will be facing its second consecutive ranked opponent tonight. And although Oklahoma State didn’t present much of a problem, the legacy of Iowa State head coach Bill Fennelly and his history against Baylor does draw Mulkey’s attention.
“Bill Fennelly’s one of the best coaches in the business, and you know the score here last year at halftime was tied, and you know how difficult it is to beat his teams,” Mulkey said.
The last time the Lady Bears and the Cyclones met, the scored was tied at 32 at the half. Baylor ran away with the second half winning the contest 77-53, but not before allowing one of Iowa State’s biggest threats, 6’7” current senior center Anna Prins, to score 17 points off Baylor.
“Prins is a big 6’7” kid,” Mulkey said. “I think every time she plays Baylor she has her best game.”
And this may be true, particularly from the three-point line where she has hit 11 of 22 in her career against the Lady Bears. Prins has also averaged 15.5 points per game in the four meetings between the two schools.
In addition to Prins being an offensive powerhouse, it is not often that Baylor’s own 6’8” Brittney Griner sees an opponent comparable to her in size. Prins’ size benefits her defensively allowing her to pull Griner away from the basket and force her to shoot from the perimeter while adding pressure to other players like posts Destiny Williams and Brooklyn Pope.
“[Prins] is every bit as tall and has good thickness about her, and I would imagine if they did get down there in the block area, that’s going to be a lot of bodies moving down there – strong bodies,” Mulkey said about the Prins-Griner matchup.
The matchup tonight will be interesting with Baylor ranked at the top of the national field goal percentage charts while Iowa State sits at second in the nation in field goal percentage defense. And while Baylor hasn’t shown much struggle against ranked opponents lately, every game presents a new challenge.
“They execute constantly,” Baylor guard Odyssey Sims said. “They crash boards well, that’s the main thing. Whatever set they run, they run it very well, and like I said, they execute it very good.” -- Savannah Pullin