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Baylor Lady Bears vs. DePaul Blue Demons Game Preview and Game Thread

The No. 5 Lady Bears have another top 25 matchup today against the No. 18 DePaul Blue Demons, 4:00 p.m. CT

NCAA Womens Basketball: Baylor at Connecticut
Beatrice Mompremier Defending
David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

No. 5/6 Baylor Lady Bears vs. 18/17 DePaul Blue Demons

The No. 5 Baylor Lady Bears take on the No. 18 DePaul Blue Demons today in the semifinals of the Gulf Coast Showcase tournament in Estero, Florida. (This preview compiled from reports at DePaul Blue Demons dot com and Baylor Bears dot com.)

The Lady Bears are coming off an 84-42 tournament victory in which they dominated the Kent State Golden Flashes from start to finish. The Blue Demons advanced to the semifinals with a 77-69 tournament victory in which they trailed the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers at the start of the game by as many as seven points.

In Friday afternoon action at Germain arena, DePaul was led by senior guard Jessica January who recorded 25 points, 6 rebounds and 7 assists. From SBNation's Swish Appeal.

“I think we’re getting better as a team,” January said. “We just wanted to come out here and have fun. Western Kentucky was a really good team, and this was a really big win for us. They showed how good they can play and I think we did a good job pulling it out.”

“Offensively we’re still a work in progress because we’re still getting to know each other,” DePaul head coach Doug Bruno said. “So each possession is like a different adventure. And some offensive possessions we were really cohesive and other offensive possessions we were not.”

“I thought Jacqui settled down and had a much better game after the first initial minutes,” Bruno said. “We got them going pretty well; it's just still such a work in progress.”

“Jessica January is really a special player,” Bruno said. “She’s one of the best players in the country. She’s keeping us together as we’re starting to piece everything else together. Her leadership, her toughness, is really something special.

“You gotta defend, you gotta rebound, you gotta be intelligent about putting the other team on the free throw line,” Bruno said. “As the game went along we did enough down the stretch to bring home the game.

About today's matchup with the Lady Bears:

“We’re excited,” January said. “We don’t really get the chance throughout the season to play a ranked team. So it’s going to be fun, they're a really good team.”

“If you want to be the best you gotta play the best,” January said. “You gotta trust yourself against the best. We’ve got firsthand knowledge of how good they are.”

Baylor Lady Bears' Head Coach Kim Mulkey had this to say after yesterday’s victory: “I brought the three bigs in together. Its no secret everbody's playing a zone for a reason. I was looking for size on the perimeter, which we have, but that's even a bigger presence defensively.

“Lauren and Bea and Kalani are gonna have to guard post players that take them outside and it was an opportunity for me to watch them defensively guard smaller perimeter players.

“DePaul's Doug Bruno has been around the game forever and he runs a motion type of offense that is extremely difficult to guard and that is where our post players are gonna be exposed.

“And that is why I threw those three out there together today. Not so much for today's game but they are all gonna have to guard perimeter shooters and when I say that it is post players that are really perimeter shooters for DePaul that are gonna bring 'em outside.”

DePaul will take the Germain Arena court averaging nearly 89 points a game led by January at 22.3 points per game. Ashton Millender, who has scored in double figures all four games, is averaging 16 points a game. The 6-3 Jacqui Grant is an inside force averaging 9.5 points and a team-leading 9.8 rebounds.

Depth has been a strength for the Lady Bears so far this season with 241 of their 557 overall points (43.3 percent) coming from the reserves. Sophomore Kalani Brown has been a force off the bench, averaging a double-double with 15.5 points and 10.2 rebounds per game. She is also second on the team in blocks, posting 1.7 stuffs per game. Freshman Lauren Cox is averaging 8.8 points and 4.7 boards off the bench in 11.7 minutes per contest. Freshman Natalie Chou is averaging 4.7 points, 1.8 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 1.2 steals per game. All 13 players on Baylor's roster have logged minutes in two of the last three games played.

Through six games, Baylor has recorded 44.3 percent (247-557) of its offense in the paint. The Lady Bears are out rebounding their opponents by an average of 26.0 boards per game (304-148).

The victor of the 4 p.m. (CT) contest will play for the tournament championship at 6:30 p.m. (CT) on Sunday, Nov. 27, against the winner of the No. 8/8 Ohio State and No. 11/11 Syracuse semifinal game.