Lady Raiders Ready for No. 1 Baylor

Texas Tech enters tonights game with the Lady Bears on a four-game winning streak and sitting second in the Big 12 Conference.

In the past three years there has been only one Big 12 Conference team that has been able to dethrone the Baylor Lady Bears from the heights of the unbeatens during the regular season.

Texas Tech.

"I think in the past we've been composed and just let the game come to us," senior guard Casey Morris said. "I think the coaches have been talking about being mentally strong in a game more than physically, and I think in the past we've done that. We've executed in that way so just outsmarting them and taking control when we can."

The Lady Raiders took control of the game in 2011, pulling off the upset, the same season Baylor traveled all the way to the Elite 8 to only fall to Texas A&M, the future National Champs that season.

Now in 2013, a season after a 40-0 record, lifting the National Championship trophy and having Brittney Griner named the National Player of the Year in 2012; the Lady Bears (18-1, 8-0 in Big 12 Play) are back to their old ways running over everyone in the Big 12 so far.

But right on their heels, at least in the standings, are the Lady Raiders.

Tech has climbed the Big 12 standings during the last few weeks thanks to a four-game winning streak, including wins against Texas, then-No.23 Kansas, West Virginia and most recently TCU on Sunday, giving the Lady Raiders some momentum entering tonight's 7 p.m. meeting with the top team in the land inside the United Spirit Arena.  

"Momentum is always good," Tech head coach Kristy Curry said. "Obviously the confidence, the pop in the kids step, the smile on their faces, that's what winning does is it gives you confidence for the next one.

"You know we wish we had the two back we lost, but the one's we have won we've worked extremely hard to get those. I love how they way we've won and how hard these kids are working everyday."

Tech (16-4, 6-2 in Big 12 play) comes into the game looking to extend that winning streak and Curry said even with the game being against top-ranked Baylor the team is treating this game against Baylor like it would with any game against any other opponent in the Big 12.

"It's the next game to us, that's how we approach it every week," she said. "It's one of 18, so it's about the next opponent and our kids have done a good job with short term memory and focusing on the game plan and going out and executing it."

Part of the game plan, like the game plan of every other Big 12 team when prepping for Baylor, will be to stop the Big 12 leader in scoring – Griner.

The senior averages 21.5 points per game, first in Big 12, 8.1 rebounds per game, third in Big 12, and then add in the blocks, 6.6 per game, which she became the NCAAs all-time leader in blocked shots in Baylor's last game against Oklahoma, there are a lot of facets of her game to stop.

Despite all the numbers, junior Kelsi Baker said to get her off her game and slowing her down will be a key to success.

"Well when you have somebody that's 6-foot-8 in the paint with a 7-foot-4 wingspan, you got to get her out of the paint, that's the whole paint, I think," she said. "So that's just one thing that we got to focus on and even if she's in the paint we're still going to go in there, we're still going to do layups, we're still going to try to attack. She's 6-8, your right, but she can't block every shot. I mean if she gets 10 blocks, so what, we're still going to shoot 50 shots. We just have to go into the game being confidant and knowing we've got to attack her."

Along with Griner, junior Odyssey Sims is another player to watch, averaging 12.5 points per game, but the Lady Raiders possess their own weapons.

One weapon that has been firing on all cylinders in the past few games has been senior Chynna Brown.

Brown has scored 20 or more points in three of the last four games including a career-high 23-point performance against TCU. In the same game Brown grabbed a career-high 12 rebounds for her first ever-double double.

In Big 12 play, Brown has been averaging 16.1 points per game and right behind the Dallas native has been fellow senior Morris with 11.5 points per game.

With this game marking the final time the seniors the Lady Raiders will face the Lady Bears here in Lubbock, Morris said there is a little more on the line this time around because it will be the final time they play them at home.

With the rivalry growing since the upset, Morris said she expects an exciting game tonight when the teams tip-off inside the United Spirit Arena.

"I think both of us just are real competitive, we play like a competitive team and we fight till the end," she said about the rivalry between Tech and Baylor. "So it's always exciting to watch there and here."


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