What a way to start the Big 12 season.
No. 6 Baylor finished with nearly four times as many assists as turnovers while shooting better than 50 percent from the floor for the seventh time this season with four Lady Bears in double figures and all but one with a bucket. All of this happened on the road at Kansas State.
“Wow, I just sat there and watched,” Baylor head coach Kim Mulkey said. “It was a very poised team. That was the surprising thing is how poised we were. You thought you were watching a bunch of upperclassmen out there. I was proud. I can’t tell you I was shocked. I just didn’t know. I knew we had talent. I just didn’t know how we would react that first conference game on the road.”
In the 30-point win over the Wildcats, everyone stepped up their game on the Baylor roster. And it showed, especially as senior Kristy Wallace and junior Kalani Brown dealt with foul trouble.
“Kalani and Kristy getting in foul trouble is why I was so proud of the team and how poised they were,” Mulkey said. “They weren’t on the floor to be our leaders in a lot of situations the other night.”
When those two were on the bench, there wasn’t a notable layoff as there can be when a key player isn’t on the floor. Instead, Baylor kept rolling on both ends of the floor. That was in big part due to the play of freshmen Alexis Morris and Didi Richards who came in off the bench. The pair combined for 21 points as Morris dished out a pair of assists and Richards tallied three blocks which tied a team high.
“When we have huddles and there are corrections to be made in the huddle and you get substituted for a player because of a mistake or something that I want done differently, this team tries to do that,” Mulkey said. “Not often do you get to coach a group where they go out there after the huddle to the floor and try to execute what they just changed. I acknowledged that. Two of them were freshmen trying to do that, actually it was the three freshmen that tried to do it. That tells you that they’re listening in the timeouts.”
While Morris played her usual role in the backcourt for Baylor, Richards stepped in at a new spot for the Lady Bears. The 6-foot-1 guard played power forward. Mulkey said in weeks past that she called Richards a “rag doll” because she can get pushed around inside. In the K-State game, Mulkey said she played like Rambo. The move to the front court for Richards came after the Nicholls State game when she played the four a little bit.
“I just watched her take a rebound from coast to coast and have a look on her face like I’m going to make something happen here,” Mulkey said. “Throughout the break, I thought, ‘This kid’s undersized but I just feel like there’s something there that could relieve (Lauren) Cox and Kalani a little bit because even though she’s undersized she just has a way of making something happen.’ She’s got a little aggressiveness about her. So when I came back from the break, I decided to go with it and she’s made me look good.”
Now, this Baylor squad that leads the country in scoring offense (91.6 points per game) and field goal percentage (52.8 percent), will go up against a zone defense for the second consecutive game as Texas Tech comes to town for a 1 p.m. tip Sunday inside the Ferrell Center.
“They’re big. It seems like they have more post players than perimeter players, so they’re playing a lot more zone,” Mulkey said. “Of course, (Recee’) Caldwell is one of the leaders on their team and in the Big 12 Conference. ... Same kind of team that we saw with K-State, with the exception that they’re probably a little bit more aggressive than K-State. They might not run the floor as quickly as they have in the past. Tech, Baylor games are always good matchups.”