NORMAN — Baylor enters Monday evening's game at Oklahoma in a familiar spot atop the Big 12 Conference standings.
Even so, these aren't the same big, bad Bears who thoroughly dominated the league throughout the Brittney Griner era. The parity that defined the rest of the Big 12 has now reached Baylor, too, with women's basketball's most dominant player now safely in the WNBA.
“I feel like we say this every year. ‘Oh, there's so much parity,'” said OU coach Sherri Coale. “And for the last few years, in the Griner era, Baylor's been at the top, but then there's been this dogfight, two through 10. This year, it just happens to be everywhere.”
Baylor (18-3, 8-1 Big 12) is still the best team in the Big 12, but it isn't nearly as invincible as it was throughout Griner's college years. The Bears had their 44-game, Big 12 regular-season winning streak snapped Jan. 19 in a 76-60 loss at Kansas.
“Everybody's knocking everybody else off, so I think the parity maybe is richer and more complete than it's ever been before,” Coale said of the Big 12.
Oklahoma (14-8, 5-4 Big 12) is coming off one of its most impressive victories of the season — an 81-74 Bedlam win Saturday — but consistency has been a problem for these Sooners.
OU earned a convincing victory at Iowa State on Jan. 21 and followed that with a home win over TCU, but then lost at Kansas State a few days later.
“I think this can be a turning point for the season, and we can shock the world,” senior guard Morgan Hook said after the Bedlam game. “This is a big weekend for us, and if we can come out and play like we did tonight with a lot of energy, then I think we have a great shot.”