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Preview: Can No. 16 Oklahoma cool Baylor before Bears are back in national mix?

The Oklahoma Sooners have an opportunity to get revenge on the Baylor Bears.

Syndication: The Oklahoman
Ja’Mee Asberry (left) and Madi Williams

The No. 16 Oklahoma Sooners and the Baylor Bears have the same number of conference losses (three), but only the Sooners can say that theirs have come against only teams currently receiving votes.

Hence, Oklahoma is ranked pretty far ahead of Baylor, which is the first team out of the Top 25. The Bears’ back-to-back losses to Oklahoma State (Jan. 11) and West Virginia (Jan. 15) are still hurting them. But, could the Bears be back on another one of their hot streaks? Before those back-to-back losses, they had four straight wins, the first two by 20-plus and the second two against then-ranked teams. And now, since losing to No. 20 Texas on Jan. 22, they have won three straight, including their most recent triumph, a win over No. 21 Iowa State on Saturday.

And, oh by the way, one of those conference losses for the Sooners came at the hands of the Bears (Jan. 3 in Norman). Now, as Oklahoma seeks revenge, it will have to seek it in Waco, which will be a difficult task.

Baylor hosts the Sooners at 8 p.m. ET Tuesday night (ESPN+). Sooner star Taylor Robertson of course recently set the new 3-pointers made record in NCAAW Division I. Robertson is averaging 2.9 made treys per game this season, which, incredibly, is a career low (her career average is 3.6 and her high is 4.4; she made 131 threes in 2019-20). She is joined by Madi Williams, who leads the team with 16.5 points per game.

Syndication: The Oklahoman
Ana Llanusa (right) is second on Oklahoma with 12.9 points per game.

On the other side, the Bears have had to replace No. 2 WNBA Draft pick NaLyssa Smith and No. 10 pick Queen Egbo, both of whom made the WNBA All-Rookie Team in 2022. Sarah Andrews, the No. 12 Hoop Gurlz recruit from 2020, leads the way with 16.3 points per game. She is also second on the team in distributing (4.5 assists per game) behind Jaden Owens (5.7). Meanwhile, Caitlin Bickle has taken on the biggest role of her career, averaging 11.6 points, 7.6 rebounds and 2.9 assists.

Also intriguing for Baylor are their two impact freshmen: Darianna Littlepage-Buggs (10 points and 9.1 rebounds per game) and Bella Fontleroy (9.1 points per game). If Littlepage-Buggs can follow up her key performance against Iowa State with another, that could be the difference in a Baylor win.

Game information

No. 16 Oklahoma Sooners (18-4, 8-3 Big 12) vs. RV (29 points) Baylor Bears (16-6, 7-3 Big 12)

When: Tuesday, Feb. 7 at 8 p.m. ET

Where: Ferrell Center in Waco, TX

How to watch/listen: BIG12|ESPN+/The Varsity Network App (Oklahoma) or The Varsity Network App (Baylor)

Key to the matchup: Oklahoma taking care of the ball. This one is a great offense vs. a great defense. Per Her Hoop Stats, Oklahoma is third in the nation with 86.5 points per game and Baylor is 51st in points allowed per game (58.8). As you would expect from that, the Sooners’ shooting percentages are better across the board and the Bears’ shooting defense is better across the board. What stands out most is that Baylor is 15th in opponent 3-point percentage (26.2). So with the good offense and good defense canceling each other out, you then look to rebounding, and the Sooners have the advantage there (9.7 margin to 5.5). But Oklahoma could do itself in with turnovers. Though they are a ranked team, the Sooners have a negative turnover margin (-1.8). They are 184th in turnovers per game (16.1) and 290th in turnovers forced (14.3). They will need to really focus on taking care of the ball against the Bears, who force 17.8 turnovers per contest (82nd).