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The Gauntlet Begins, Baylor vs. Texas, WBB, 6:00 PM CT, Ferrell Center, Preview and GameThread

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This big game is only the tip off as the Lady Bears move into the meat of their Big XII schedule.

NCAA Womens Basketball: Kansas State at Baylor
Its a basketball ballet.
Erich Schlegel-USA TODAY Sports

In the NCAA early reveal, the Lady Bears were selected as the ninth overall seed. That’s right, if the tournament were to start today, the Lady Bears would be a number three seed and likely play the first rounds as away games like they did when they visited my backyard and played in Bowling Green and South Bend. Due to the close proximity of those games, it was great for me until the old folks at South Bend started banging their walkers on the aluminum benches. Who’d have thought so much noise could be made at a geriatrics gathering?

Well, the selection committee seems to have based their early reveal looking on Baylor’s strength of schedule leading up to today’s game. Despite having played several top 25 teams, it hasn’t been Sampson like. Today that changes. Today Baylor begins a journey that includes a gauntlet of 8 more games vs. teams currently ranked in the top 25. Today Baylor begins that periled journey against the No. 6 ranked Texas Shorthorns.

NCAA Basketball: Oklahoma State at Baylor Ray Carlin-USA TODAY Sports

Get loud this evening Baylor Nation, you’ve got a lot to cheer for.

My predicted starters for Baylor are Kristy Wallace, Dekeyia Cohen, Kalani Brown, Lauren Cox and Natalie Chou. Chou, Cohen and Wallace will have their hands full trying to slow down the Texas guards. Cohen should be the difference maker tonight as she is coming into her stride. Cohen having a good night will help to settle down Kristy Wallace considerably as Kristy has often tried to carry the entire team on her shoulders.

I never thought I’d enjoy basketball so much as I have enjoyed watching the Lady Bears play this year. It’s not just all about Brown and Cox, Baylor’s bigs. Sunday against Kansas State, listening to the game’s announcers extol the perfection of Baylor’s text book passing game just heaped on the excitement. Kansas State coach Jeff Mittie had this to say, “Baylor’s passing got better and then they went over the top of our zone. There is space up there that they can get to.” It was like a basketball ballet.

I think having the smaller roster, only nine players, has helped to bring a cohesiveness not seen since Chameka Scott’s 2005 National Champion Lady Bear squad. I’m certain that the Lady Bears have been getting more individual reps with each other during practice which accounts for the increased coordination.

The Lady Bears are looking forward to playing Texas. Says Kalani Brown, “Playing Texas before, they bring energy so we just have to match that. We can’t come out slow and sluggish. We have to match their intensity and it’s always going to be a good game when we play them.”

With so much energy being expended early, we will certainly see Coach Mulkey putting in her two energizer bunnies from the bench, Alexis Morris and Didi Richards. We should see some of this from the bench also:

For more previews of the big game:

Daily Bears Report 1/25/2018 - Texas vs. Baylor, 6:00 PM CT

Daily Bears Report 1/24/2018 - Huge Test Coming for Lady Bears

Dynamic duos for Longhorns, Bears expected to go toe to toe, Andrew Miner, The No. 3 Baylor Lady Bears will finally take on their biggest and longest standing rival when they host the No. 6 Texas Longhorns tonight.

Atkins, Longhorns ready to battle with the Bears | The Daily Texan, Ariel Atkins couldn’t get a shot to go down.

TODAY’s game will be broadcast live on ESPN2 and the Watch ESPN app with Adam Amin (play-by-play), Kara Lawson (analyst), Rebecca Lobo (analyst) and Holly Rowe (sideline) calling the action. Fans can also listen to Rick May (play-by-play) and Lori Fogleman (analyst) on the Baylor Sports Network, IMG College and 1660AM and 99.1FM in Waco.