Oklahoma women's basketball practices ended earlier than usual this week.
Coach Sherri Coale's workouts were simpler, less opponent-oriented and more aimed at shoring up areas where her team needs improvement.
“I see bounce coming back in their steps,” Coale said. “They're a lot fresher than they were five or six days ago.”
The Sooners, who haven't played since a Jan. 19 home win over Texas, are going to need that extra spark Saturday morning, when they'll meet defending national champion Baylor in the Ferrell Center for an 11 a.m. tipoff.
The No. 1-ranked Bears (17-1 overall, 7-0 Big 12) carry a four-game series win streak — and a 29-game Big 12 win streak — into Saturday's clash with Oklahoma (15-3, 5-1).
“I think it's really important, especially for recovery,” junior OU guard Aaryn Ellenberg said of the week off. “Going hard so many nights, in and out, it wears you down a little bit.”
Baylor has won its seven Big 12 games this season by an average margin of 25.3 points; the Bears' only loss came at a neutral site to No. 6 Stanford, and Baylor junior guard Odyssey Sims was injured early in the game and didn't return.
“This is the best game to come after we got the chance to work on it for a week,” said junior guard Morgan Hook, a team captain who's averaging 10.5 points and 4.9 rebounds a game.
“Our practices have been shorter, and it's just been a recovery week.”
The Sooners' main concern, of course, will be Baylor's two-time All-America senior center, Brittney Griner, who averages 21.8 points and 8.1 rebounds per game.
Griner — described by Coale as, “An incredible talent, the likes of which our game has not seen and may not see again” — is 5-2 against Oklahoma over her career, but hasn't lost to the Sooners since her freshman season. She's averaged 19.6 points and 7.6 rebounds against OU.
“That's always exciting to play somebody really good,” Ellenberg said. “But we really need to be focusing more on ourselves. I think if we focus so much on them and who we're playing, it's gonna mess you up. I think that's what happens to a lot of people when you play them.”