STILLWATER — Tiffany Bias often speaks as quickly as she races around the basketball floor.
But the Oklahoma State senior point guard took a brief pause to ponder this question.
Is Sunday's matchup against national heavyweight Baylor the biggest regular-season game in her Cowgirl career?
“Uh, I think so,” Bias said. “I'm not really sure. … Every game we have to go out and prove ourselves.”
Here’s a broader question: Is this the biggest regular-season game in Cowgirl basketball history?
On paper, it sure could be.
While the 2008 Bedlam game in Stillwater — where a sold-out crowd watched Andrea Riley drop 45 points in a Cowgirl rout and late coach Kurt Budke broke out the infamous orange blazer — will likely always be regarded as OSU’s biggest watershed moment, Sunday’s showdown between the No. 8 Cowgirls and No. 12 Baylor is the first meeting between two top-10 women’s basketball teams at Gallagher-Iba Arena. It’s also just the second matchup between two top 10 teams in OSU history, joining an 88-67 loss at No. 4 Nebraska in 2010 when the Cowgirls were ranked 10th.
And Sunday gives the Cowgirls (17-1, 6-1 Big 12) a chance to knock off the three-time defending Big 12 champs and firmly establish themselves as the front-runners to win the league this season as we near the halfway point of conference play.
“I think a lot of people still look at (Baylor) as the favorite, because they've been there and been so successful and have a star on their team (Odyssey Sims),” coach Jim Littell said. “I think people around the country are looking at us as the underdog in this game, and that's fine.
“Until somebody dethrones them, they've earned that respect.”
Baylor certainly looks different this season without 6-8 phenom Brittney Griner, who is now in the WNBA. And about a week ago, the Bears showed some inconsistency, hanging with top-ranked Connecticut for the bulk of an 11-point loss before suffering a shocking 76-60 defeat at Kansas.
Still, Baylor has the reputation of a perennial power, while this OSU squad, off to its best start in school history, is regarded as a rising program.
Without Griner in the paint, the focus shifts to a dynamite point guard matchup between Bias and Sims.
The Baylor offense now revolves around Sims, who leads the nation in scoring at 30.4 points per game. But with the Cowgirls' ascension, Bias is earning more and more national praise as a tenacious playmaker (14.3 points, 6.8 assists per game) and pesky defender (2.4 steals per game), getting a Twitter shout out from ESPN analyst Rebecca Lobo earlier this week.
“We both want to play our best games when we play against each other,” Bias said. “I think we both strive for that and we both push each other to the max. So I think when this game comes around, I think we give it a little bit more than usual.”
Littell wouldn't bite, either, when asked if this could be the biggest regular-season game in program history. He instead deferred to the cliché that the next game is always the most important game.
But he recently filmed a promo for the OSU Alumni Association, encouraging fans to attend and create an atmosphere reminiscent of the 2008 Bedlam game. He expects his squad to bring confidence into the game, particularly after the Cowgirls gave Baylor a legitimate scare in their last meeting in the Big 12 Tournament.
And he acknowledges this Baylor showdown does present a “huge opportunity.”
“If you want to compete at the top, you've got to beat the top teams,” Littell said. “And this is one of the top teams. There's no question.”