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January 26, 2013

Sooners believe they’re prepared for Lady Bears

WACO, Texas — Senior forward Joanna McFarland had an interesting comment after practice this week, a few days before the 20th-ranked Oklahoma women were to meet No. 1 Baylor, who they meet at 11 a.m. today at Ferrell Center.

“We know how to play them,” she said. “We’ve played them so many times.”

The question put to her dealt with the phenomenon that often exists for opponents of dominant programs, who instead of bringing their best game to such matchups, frequently bring their worst.

The second part of McFarland’s answer was correct. The Sooners and Lady Bears have met seven times over the last three seasons. The first part of her answer, however, was not.

OU last topped Baylor in 2010, the last time coach Sherri Coale (and then-point guard Danielle Robinson) led the Sooners to the Final Four.

That season, OU fell 57-47 in Waco, prevailed 62-60 in overtime in Norman and triumphed 59-54 at the Big 12 tournament championship game in Kansas City.

Since, OU has been competitive in only one of four meetings, an 82-81 home-court victory in 2011. In the other three, the Sooners have fallen by 22, 31 and 27 points to the Lady Bears.

Perhaps more bothersome, reigning national player of the year Brittney Griner, the first-of-her-kind 6-foot-8 Baylor center has actually played bigger games in losses to OU than in victories.

At Lloyd Noble Center three seasons ago, the then-freshman Griner charted 17 points, 12 rebounds and 11 blocked shots. In Kansas City a short time later, Griner finished with 18 points, six rebounds and 10 blocks. In three Baylor victories since, Griner has not even accumulated a double-double, much less a triple-double.

Indeed, evidence suggests the Lady Bears’ intimidation factor upon the Sooners has been high.

The only Sooner clearly unaffected by the Baylor’s aura last season was Whitney Hand, who scored 39 points and grabbed 13 rebounds in two meetings, but who will be on the bench today in street clothes and a knee brace.

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