Raegan Pebley knows Kalani Brown and Lauren Cox are a tough matchup. The duo scored 23 and 16 points respectively against her TCU squad as No. 3 Baylor topped the Horned Frogs, 83-63, Saturday evening. But the TCU head coach didn’t want to solely focus on those Lady Bear bigs.
“They’re a great duo, but you know you look at if you’re Kalani, who’s Kalani’s MVP, is it Lauren because Lauren is so capable at the high post or is a player like Kristy who just really understands how to manipulate the defense?” Pebley said. “There’s a lot of pieces around them, and I think it would be naive to think that this team’s only about those two players.”
One of those pieces is Juicy Landrum. The sophomore guard who was inserted into the starting lineup a week ago for the injured Natalie Chou continued to impress in her new role. She set the tone early when TCU lined up in a 2-3 zone. Kristy Wallace passed to her right, and Landrum drained a 3-pointer well beyond the arch.
The sophomore did that five more times on the night as she finished with 15 points off 5-for-10 shooting from the perimeter.
“She’s just stepped right in with Natalie’s wrist injury,” Baylor head coach Kim Mulkey said. “It’s important that Juicy just understands shoot it. Nobody’s going to tell you not to shoot it. She started out and hit that big 3, and we should have gone right back to her. We ended up going to Dekeiya. When a shooter makes one, find them. She’s just playing with a lot of confidence right now.”
It wasn’t all 3s from Landrum. She also finished with six rebounds and eight assists to only two turnovers.
“That’s what she has to do,” Mulkey said. “If you’re going to play 27, 30 minutes a game, you’re going to have to give us more than just the 3-ball. You’re going to have to defend, which she’s getting over screens and doing better. She’s looking for the big girls, ball reversal and then get in there and play bigger than you are. Help us rebound some.”
Landrum’s perimeter shooting didn’t allow TCU to sag in its defense, giving the perimeter Baylor players plenty of space while backing down to provide multiple defenders against the Baylor bigs. It wasn’t just Landrum with the deep threat. It was Alexis Morris, too. The freshman finished with nine points and went 2-for-2 from deep.
“That’s gigantic, that Juicy can stretch the defense like that and Alexis Morris doing what she’s doing consistently shooting 50 percent and above from the 3-point line,” Pebley said. “When you have kids that don’t hit those shots, then you can contest against those post players quite a bit, which makes it pretty challenging for them.”
As the Lady Bears combined to shoot 41.2 percent from the perimeter, Baylor finished with 42 points in the paint. Overall, the Lady Bears shot 55.2 percent from the floor with 28 of their 32 makes assisted. Landrum and Kristy Wallace tied for the team lead with eight assists as Morris added five of her own.
“I think it’s mostly three kids had a great assist to turnover ratio — Juicy, Kristy and Morris. If you’ve got three guards that are scoring the ball and also having that many assists, then you’ll be hard to guard. They really rewarded our posts.”
Defensively, Baylor held TCU to 34.8 percent shooting from the floor, its second-lowest shooting night of the season. Mulkey made sure to heap praise for Baylor’s defensive success on the shoulders of freshman Didi Richards.
“I thought Didi Richards was big for us in the first half,” Mulkey said. “She was getting over screens and they would hit her. She’d sell the blocking foul, and I think that snowballed. Didi is so active defensively.”
The win over TCU marked the 20th consecutive win for the Lady Bears. Baylor is now 13-0 in Big 12 play. The Lady Bears have only five games remaining in the regular season — at Oklahoma State (Feb. 13), at home against Kansas (Feb. 17), back-to-back road games at Texas (Feb. 19) and TCU (Feb. 24) and a home game against West Virginia (Feb. 26) to wrap things up.
“We’ve got five games left that are going to be really good basketball games because we’re all playing for something,” Mulkey said. “Now, we’re not all playing for a Big 12 championship. But some are playing to get an NCAA Tournament bid, some are playing for a championship, some are playing for a bye in the Big 12 Tournament. At this late stage, you kind of grind it out and see what you got this last month of the season, really. It’s important to us. We have a lot of pride. It’s important for us to win another Big 12 championship. We are sure fighting to do that.“