Here is everything you need to know about the Baylor Bears and the Oklahoma State Cowgirls in our Baylor vs. Oklahoma State Big 12 Tournament women’s basketball preview.
Game 4: No. 1 Baylor (25-5, 15-3) vs. No. 9 Oklahoma State (9-19), 1:30 p.m. CT, Friday (time is dependent on completion of Game 3)
Season series (Baylor 2-0): Baylor def. Oklahoma State, 67-49, in Waco, Texas, on Jan. 19; Baylor def. Oklahoma State, 65-58, in Stillwater, Okla., on Feb. 23.
Big 12 Tournament results: Baylor: First game. Oklahoma State: def. Texas Tech, 73-58.
Winner gets: the winner of Game 3 in the semifinals at noon on Saturday.
Projected starting lineups
Baylor: F NaLyssa Smith, G Ja’Mee Asberry, G Jordan Lewis, G Sarah Andrews, C Queen Egbo.
Oklahoma State: G Lauren Fields, G Lexy Keys, G Micah Dennis, F Taylen Collins, C Kassidy De Lapp.
Players to watch
Baylor F NaLyssa Smith: Smith was the Heartland College Sports Big 12 Player of the Year and is the defending Wade Trophy winner, which is given to women’s college basketball’s best player. She has 21 double-doubles this season, which is second in Baylor history, and is fifth in the country. She leads the Bears with 22.3 points and 11.7 rebounds going into the Big 12 Tournament. Smith was also the unanimous selection as Big 12 Player of the Year by the league’s coaches, becoming the fifth player in Big 12 history to do so. She may not end up being the country’s player of the year winner again, but she could be the No. 1 pick in the WNBA Draft.
Oklahoma State G Lauren Fields: Fields led the way for the Cowgirls in their victory over Texas Tech on Thursday with 22 points. But, folks in Stillwater are used to that. She just earned All-Big 12 Second Team honors from the coaches. Fields finished the regular season with 15.8 points per game, sixth in the Big 12. She was also second in the Big 12 with 2.5 steals per game. She was also in the Top 10 in the Big 12 with 1.8 made 3-pointers per game and blocked nearly a shot per game. She’s OSU’s best two-way player and the focal point of everything the Cowgirls do.
Baylor: The Bears started the Big 12 season 0-2. Then the Bears won the Big 12 regular-season title, becoming the first team to do that the last 20 years. How? By staying the course, though the Bears didn’t have much choice with a short rotation, that was aggravated by a bout with COVID-19 to start the league slate. Head coach Nicki Collen kept working her WNBA-influenced offense, she squeezed everything she could out of her roster and by February everything was clicking. While the Bears were swept by the Oklahoma Sooners, they’re on a league-best 13-game winning streak. In other words, the Bears don’t want to look ahead, but they probably love the fact that OU is on their side of the bracket.
Oklahoma State: The Cowgirls entered the season coming off an NCAA Tournament appearance, but things never quite came together for OSU. The Cowgirls had to deal with a significant COVID-19 pause in December, and despite an early win over Texas Tech in Big 12 play, the Cowgirls lost eight straight to take themselves out of the running to get out of the first day of the Big 12 Tournament. Meanwhile, head coach Jim Littell is out the door after the Big 12 Tournament, as he and the athletic department are parting ways. So the Cowgirls helped him to a win, over Texas Tech no less, to extend his stay in Stillwater at least one more day.
The last time Baylor failed to win the Big 12 Tournament was 2017, when the Bears were upset by No. 6 seed West Virginia.
Baylor 82, Oklahoma State 61. Baylor is humming and while Oklahoma State put together a fine game against the Lady Raiders, the No. 1 seed is going to advance.
You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard.