Matt Ryerson-US PRESSWIRE
The Baylor Lady Bears will host the Kentucky Wildcats at 6 p.m. EDT on ESPN2 as the lone women's basketball game included in the College Hoops Tip-Off Marathon today. Click here for the full schedule of games for the day.
As described by Greg Alan Edwards of SB Nation's Kentucky site A Sea of Blue, the Kentucky Wildcats will get their first major test today when they face the Baylor Lady Bears as part of the College Basketball Tip-Off Marathon today.
If UK hopes to beat Baylor tonight, they had better bring all 40 minutes of dread with them, and a lot of points will be needed as well...Make no mistake folks, this is the toughest team we will see all season, and it's not even close. If the Hoops squad can somehow corral the Baylor guards, and force Griner outside the paint when she has her hands on the ball, they can overcome Baylor and all of their weapons. But it is going to take leaving it all on the floor tonight. No mistakes, and no letting up for all 40 minutes.
In short, Kentucky has their work cut out for them if they hope to hand Baylor its first loss since falling in the Elite Eight of the 2011 NCAA Tournament to eventual national champion Texas A&M. But in a way, the way that teams like Texas A&M and Texas Tech beat Baylor a couple of seasons ago is probably the blueprint for a team like Kentucky: pressure the guards, force turnovers, and prevent Griner from getting touches.
The challenge in a team replicating a similar feat now should be somewhat obvious: Baylor point guard Odyssey Sims is a much better ball handler (and defender) now than she was back in the 2011 tournament as a freshman, not to mention that Griner has improved in multiple ways as well.
But another thing to watch to Edwards' point elsewhere in his preview is the rebounding battle: Kentucky has its share of 6'3" juniors who are capable of competing on the boards in the form of Azia Bishop, Samantha Drake, and transfer DeNesha Stallworth as well as 6'1" forward Samarie Walker and even star guard A'dia Mathies who rebounds awfully well for a 5'9" guard.
Of course, while all of them have to be accounted for, none of them are 6'8", which brings us back to the central problem: how exactly do you stop a team with Brittney Griner roaming the paint? Kentucky, as I described previously in a Q&A with SB Nation Dallas, has as good a chance as anyone Baylor will face this season.
For more information and score updates on the College Hoops Tip-Off Marathon, check out SBNation.com's storystream tracking the day as it unfolds.