It’s never been done before in the Big 12. Kim Mulkey has never seen it happen either. Nearly halfway into the conference schedule, it’s a known fact that the dominant duo of Kalani Brown and Lauren Cox is unstoppable offensively. Because both can face up to the basket and score as well as get work done with their backs to the basket, their offensive production has been overwhelming for the Lady Bear opposition thus far.
But Saturday night in No. 4 Baylor’s return to the Ferrell Center after nearly three weeks away, Brown and Cox each had 19 rebounds as the Lady Bears defeated Kansas State, 75-50.
“Guys, that’s a lot of rebounds for two girls that play together,” Baylor head coach Kim Mulkey said. “They have to share the rebounding and not fight over it. And to think that you had that many come off the boards and they both had the same number of rebounds is pretty impressive. We sure are glad.”
Behind the duo’s 38 combined rebounds, Baylor outrebounded the Wildcats 69-24. The Lady Bears pulled down more offensive rebounds alone (32) than Kansas State had overall.
“Baylor didn’t shoot the ball real well tonight for what they normally do, but all that did for them is just to give them a chance to play volleyball against the glass and rebound it more,” Kansas State coach Jeff Mittie said. “Their front line’s as formidable as one that I think that is in the country. Their size, obviously, their experience in there, our freshman got a real education tonight against Brown and Cox.”
In addition to 19 rebounds each, Cox added 16 points while Brown had a game-high 33, just two off of her career-best. With that stat line of 33 points and 19 rebounds, Brown became the third player in Big 12 history to score at least 33 points and grab 19 rebounds since Oklahoma’s Courtney Paris had 33 points and 21 boards against Missouri on Feb. 25, 2007.
“Kalani has really improved her timing in the post,” Mittie said. “She doesn’t waste a whole lot of energy in there and she’s very efficient, so she’s really progressed. You go back to her freshman year, like a lot of centers, she didn’t quite understand that. But she has really understood angles, she’s really understood leverage better and really plays much, much harder than she did.”
While Brown and Cox rolled, it wasn’t an easy start for the Lady Bears. Kansas State opened with a 1-3-1 zone defense with a trap in the half court, and Baylor opened up with six early turnovers.
“They have length in their zone, and I just thought we played too fast,” Mulkey said. “Their zone made us rush a lot of things, and so you turn it over, they hit a few buckets, you turn it over, they hit a few buckets. We finally settled in.”
Kansas State jumped out to a 9-4 lead before the Lady Bears ended the first quarter on a 10-0 run. An and-1 play by Brown tied the game with 3:12 to play in the first quarter, while her next layup just over 30 seconds later gave the Lady Bears a lead they never relinquished.
“I guess I just had to figure their defense out,” Brown said. “I played a little rattled in the beginning, and coaches pulled me aside. It was like, calm down and play your game. I just went out there more relaxed.”