BROWN'S SEASON-HIGH 32 POINTS HELPS BAYLOR TO 34TH CONSECUTIVE BIG 12 WIN IN THE REGULAR SEASON
Kalani Brown missed just one shot the entire evening, connecting on 11 of 12 shots from the floor and hitting all 10 free-throw attempts to score 32 points Saturday in Baylor's 89-71 win over TCU at home. The Lady Bears, as they have done all season, moved the ball around efficiently notching 30 assists for the second time in conference play, this time on 35 made field goals. Five Lady Bears had at least four assists with DiDi Richards' seven leading the way. Baylor's other All-American, Lauren Cox, contributed 18 points and eight rebounds with five assists while Richards (10) and Juicy Landrum (11) scored in double figures as well. Baylor continued its dominance over the Horned Frogs, winning its 30th-consecutive matchup with its Fort Worth foe and extended its winning streak at the Ferrell Center to 33 games.
IT'S A LONG WAY TO THE TOP: BAYLOR RETURNS TO NO. 1 RANKING FOR FIRST TIME SINCE MARCH OF 2013
For the first time since the March 18, 2013 poll, the Associated Press Top 25 placed the Baylor Lady Bears as the No. 1 team in the nation. Baylor's 21-1 overall record, 11-0 mark in the Big 12 and five wins over Top 25 opponents have played a role in the nation's highest ranking.
The Jan. 28 poll that first put Baylor back on top marked the 40th time that Baylor has ranked at No. 1 in the weekly poll. The Lady Bears spent seven weeks in the top spot from January to mid-February in 2011, spent 21-straight weeks as the favorite from Oct. 29, 2011-Nov. 12, 2012 and ranked No. 1 the last 11 weeks of the 2012-13 season. Baylor's 21-week streak was the eighth-longest streak of all-time.
KSU IN SHORT
After Baylor defeated Kansas State in Waco 65-50 on Jan. 9, the Wildcats have had a bit of a roller coaster ride. Jan. 13 K-State returned home to fall to Kansas by seven points but rebounded by defeating nationally-ranked Texas in Manhattan Jan. 16, sparking two more wins at Texas Tech and Oklahoma State. Then, the Wildcats dropped three straight (at WVU, TCU, ISU) before winning two in a row on the road at Kansas and at Oklahoma entering into Wednesday's contest. The Wildcats head up the bottom half of the league at sixth place in the standings with an even 6-6 Big 12 record and a 15-9 mark overall.
BAYLOR LOOKS TO IMPROVE ON TWO WIN STREAKS WEDNESDAY
A Baylor win vs. K-State Wednesday would mark the 35th-straight win over a Big 12 opponent in the regular season. The only streak longer in Big 12 history was when the Lady Bears won 44-straight from 2011-14. In addition, will be gunning for its 33rd consecutive win over a Big 12 opponent on the road in the regular season. At 32, Baylor's road win streak in conference play is the third longest all-time and second-longest among active teams (UConn, 47, American Athletic Conference).
INTERIOR DEFENSE DOMINANT
While some may look at the fact that Baylor has surrendered 186 3-point field goals this season (most by a Big 12 school) as a negative, take into account that only 462 of 1,238 points given up by Baylor this season have come on two-point field goals. That' s just 231 two-pointers in 21 games, which averages 10.5 2-point field goals per game or 21 points per game given up inside the 3-point arc this season.
DEFENSE BEGINS WITH DIDI
DiDi Richards, a sophomore guard/forward is consistently asked to guard the top perimeter player on Baylor's opposing team. For example, she held Katie Lou Samuelson of UConn to 12 points on 4-of-16 shooting Jan. 3, and she held OSU's Vivian Gray to a dozen on 5-of-16 from the floor Jan. 30. Both those players rank in the top 50 nationally in points per game. Richards' numbers aren't flashy, but respectable, she's averaging 1.4 steals per game for the year and 1.6 in Big 12 play, but she's anchoring the defensive unit that is leading the nation for the third-straight year in field goal percentage defense.
BALANCED EFFORT LEADING BAYLOR IN 2018-19
Despite having the No. 1 team in the country and in the Big 12, Baylor has taken home just one weekly Big 12 Player of the Week and Freshman of the Week award. Juicy Landrum and NaLyssa Smith earned those honors, respectively, sharing with another Big 12 player in each case. This result is partly due to the offensive balance that the Lady Bears have shown all season. Four players average in double figures for Baylor led by All-Americans Kalani Brown (16.6 ppg) and Lauren Cox's (12.3 ppg). The duo's numbers are down from a season ago, mostly due to the fact that freshmen posts Smith (9.5 ppg) and Queen Egbo (6.3 ppg) are able to spell the starters off the bench with offensive production. And, also guards Juicy Landrum and Chloe Jackson are each sharing the scoring load at 10.5 and 10.3 points per contest, respectively.
POUND THE PAINT, CLEAN THE GLASS, D-UP: LADY BEARS AMONG NATION'S BEST IN REBOUNDING, SCORING EFFICIENCY, DEFENSE
In 12 statistical categories, the Lady Bears rank in the top 10 nationally. But, the Lady Bears (thru games Feb. 10) rank tops in the nation in defensive rebounds per game (32.7), rebound margin (+16.8) and field goal percentage defense (.319) while ranking fourth in field goal percentage (.512). Kalani Brown ranks ninth in the nation in field goal percentage at a .638 clip. In addition to the nation's best defensive field goal percentage, the Lady Bears rank tops in the nation in blocked shots per game (6.9), led by Lauren Cox's 2.23 per contest. Baylor's rebounding is a staple of the program, and the Lady Bears have out-rebounded its opponents in all 22 games this season, Baylor won the rebounding battle in 34 of 35 contests last year, and in 91 of the last 94 contests, BU has had the upper hand on the boards.
LADY BEARS ON THE RUN
Baylor has 21 runs this season of at least 10 unanswered points including at least one in seven of the first 12 Big 12 contests. In 14 of 22 games this season, the Lady Bears have had at least one such run, and Baylor has also put together five runs of 20 or more points. In addition, Baylor is dominating opponents in transition, out-scoring opponents 264-65 on the fast break this season.
SHARING IS CARING: BAYLOR LEADS NATION IN ASSISTS PER GAME
Baylor's 23.5 assists per contest ranks best in the nation led by Chloe Jackson's 6.4 assists per contest (ranks 8th nationally) and 2.61:1 assists-to-turnover ratio (ranks 21st nationally). DiDi Richards is averaging 4.2 assists per contest while ranking 18th nationally in assists-to-turnover ratio at 2.74:1 and post Lauren Cox ranks 27th in that category at 2.42:1. Juicy Landrum also ranks in the top 50 in assists-to-turnover ratio while third on the team at 4.0 assists per contest. As a team Baylor's ball distribution has been the hallmark of the offense in 2018-19. In fact out of Baylor's 721 made field goals this season, the Lady Bears have assisted on 518 marking 71.8 percent of the team's buckets coming on an assist from a teammate.
50 IS THE MAGIC NUMBER: BAYLOR NEARLY UNBEATABLE WHEN HITTING HALF ITS SHOTS
In just one occurrence since Kim Mulkey's arrival at Baylor in the 2000-01 season have the Lady Bears lost a game when shooting 50 percent or better. Baylor's record under Mulkey when shooting 50 percent or better is 212-1, and the Lady Bears are 36-0 when shooting 60 percent or better. The lone loss came in the 2017 NCAA Tournament when Baylor fell to Mississippi State in the Elite 8, 94-85 on March 26 despite shooting 53.3 percent from the floor.
JACKSON, LANDRUM THRIVING AT POINT GUARD OUT OF POSITION
Head Coach Kim Mulkey said at the Big 12 Women's Basketball Tipoff Oct. 16 that she had never entered a season without knowing who her point guard would be. Despite that fact, Baylor has had no trouble distributing or sharing the ball through 21 games this season. Through Feb. 10, Baylor ranks tops in the nation in assists per game (23.5) and is third in assists-to-turnover ratio (1.73:1).
Chloe Jackson and Juicy Landrum true-two guards, are the Lady Bears' primary point guards this season and both have met the challenge thus far with success. Jackson ranks 8th in nation in assists per game (6.4 and 21st in assists-to-turnover ratio. (2.61:1). Landrum ranks 47th in that category at 2.15:1 while ranking third on the team with 84 assists (4.0 p/g), and DiDi Richards ranks 18th at a 2.74:1 and is second on the team in assists at 4.2 per contest. Add post player Lauren Cox's 2.42:1 assists-to-turnover ratio that ranks third in the Big 12 and 27th in the nation, Baylor has done well for itself without a true one.
MULKEY NAMED AS CANDIDATE FOR NAISMITH MEMORIAL 2019 HALL OF FAME CLASS BOTH AS PLAYER AND COACH
For the third-straight year Baylor head coach Kim Mulkey was named as a candidate both as a coach and player for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. Last season, she was named a finalist as a coach in February. The finalists will be announced in mid-February during the NBA All-Star break, and the 2019 class will be introduced at the 2019 NCAA Men's Final Four in Minneapolis, Minn.
Mulkey remains the only person to win an NCAA National Championship as a player, assistant and head coach and is one of three along with Dean Smith and Bobby Knight to win one as a player and head coach.
From the sideline, she's coached Baylor to 18 Big 12 championships with nine regular-season titles and nine Big 12 Championship crowns. Three times Baylor has made the NCAA Final Four, and she's led the green and gold to two national championships in 2005 and 2012.
As a player, Mulkey won the 1981 AIAW national championship and her Lady Techsters won the inaugural NCAA Women's Basketball title in 1982.
BROWN AND COX NAMED TO TWO MIDSEASON WATCH LISTS
Both Kalani Brown and Lauren Cox collected numerous postseason accolades after the 2017-18 season, which resulted in a multitude of 2018-19 preseason honors. Jan. 9, the post duo earned spots on the John Wooden Trophy Award Midseason Top 25 watch list and Jan. 25 the duo was named to the Naismith Defensive Player of the Year Midseason Watch List. Last season, Brown was recognized as a top-five finalist for the Wooden Trophy award.
BAYLOR PLAYERS PAY FOR MULKEY'S 550-WINS TRIBUTE
The Baylor players took it upon themselves to congratulate Kim Mulkey in a pre-game presentation Wednesday for her 550th career victory achieved Sunday at Texas Tech. Senior Kalani Brown took the PA microphone and addressed the crowd an Mulkey prior to the K-State game Jan. 9, and the Lady Bears chipped in their own money for three easels of roses shaped in the numbers 5-5-0. Mulkey was told postgame that the players paid for the flowers and later in the postgame press conference said "My players bought those 550-numbered roses. [Out of their pocket] Wow. That's the kind of kids I get to coach. I didn't know that until the game was over, and I thought wow, my players are buying that."
ABOUT BAYLOR'S HISTORIC WIN OVER NO. 1 UCONN
Two elite programs met in Waco Jan. 3, and for the first time in school history (previously 0-14) the Baylor Lady Bears knocked off a No. 1-ranked team with UConn falling 68-57 at a sold-out Ferrell Center on ESPN. Not only did Baylor win the game, the Lady Bears put an end to a long line of streaks set by the Huskies, who are the standard for women's basketball with 11 NCAA Championships. Baylor's victory ended a streak of 126 consecutive regular season games for the Huskies and a streak of 55 consecutive regular season road wins. UConn had won 209 straight games in regulation; it's last loss in regulation also came to No. 1 Baylor Dec. 18, 2011.
The Lady Bears' 11-point win was the largest margin of victory for a team vs. UConn since Feb. 27, 2012 when UConn fell to Notre Dame 72-59. In addition, Baylor's defense held UConn to just a 29.4 shooting percentage, its lowest in any game the past 20 seasons.
Baylor became the third Big 12 school to ever defeat a No. 1 team joining Texas Tech who accomplished the feat twice and Texas, and just the second time that a Big 12 team has beaten a No. 1 in a non-conference matchup.
BU's big win kept an overall home win streak at the Ferrell Center alive at 28 games while extending its non-conference home win streak to 47 games.
BROWN PICKS UP ESPNW NATIONAL HONOR AFTER LEADING BAYLOR TO WIN OVER NO. 1 UCONN
Kalani Brown didn't shy away from the spotlight when the lights came on Jan. 3 vs. No. 1 UConn. In front of a sold-out crowd at the Ferrell Center and nationally televised on ESPN, the senior post put up 22 points and a season-high 17 rebounds. She was 11-for-17 from the floor in 36 minutes of play. Her games that week also included performances vs. UTRGV and at Texas Tech, but ESPNW.com singled out her performance against the No. 1 Huskies and tabbed her National Player of the Week on Jan. 7.
BAYLOR SIGNS TOP-10 PROSPECT OLIVER AS LONE ADDITION TO 2019 SIGNING CLASS
A year after signing five players and accepting a graduate transfer, Jordyn Oliver gets all the Lady Bears' attention this season as the No. 10-ranked national prospect (Collegiate Girls Basketball Report) signed with Baylor. Oliver, a Prosper, Texas native is a 3-time TABC All-State selection, and was also ranked No. 11 by ESPN Hoopgurlz.
Jan. 24, Oliver was named a McDonald's All-American and will participate in the McDonald's All-American Games in March.
MULKEY'S MIDAS TOUCH: 1,100 WINS
Everything head coach Kim Mulkey touches doesn't necessarily turn to gold, but if it has to do with college basketball, nearly everything she touches results in a win. Baylor's win vs. Nicholls (Nov. 6) gave Mulkey 1,100 wins combined as a collegiate player (130, La. Tech), assistant coach (430, La. Tech) & head coach (540, Baylor). In those capacities, Mulkey's teams are a combined 1,100-192 for an astounding .851 winning percentage.
BROWN'S SEASON-HIGH 32 POINTS HELPS BAYLOR TO 34TH CONSECUTIVE BIG 12 WIN IN THE REGULAR SEASON