Feb. 9, 2013
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AUSTIN, Texas (AP)- Texas freshman Imani McGee-Stafford stood toe-to-toe with Baylor's Brittney Griner, outrebounding her and nearly matching her points.
She also got a lesson that the top-ranked Lady Bears are a lot more than just their standout forward.
"She didn't just murder me," McGee-Stafford said.
No, but Griner sidestepped the freshman to drive the lane to her 13th career-dunk, a slam that came early in game-clinching second-half run that spurred Baylor to a 75-48 victory Saturday night.
Odyssey Sims scored 18 points and Jordan Madden scored 11 points for Baylor (22-1, 12-0 Big 12) on a night Griner struggled offensively with 14 points and just three rebounds, none on offense.
Defensively, Griner had eight blocks and said she was impressed by McGee-Staffords' presence in the post. Griner is 6-foot-8. McGee-Stafford is 6-7.
"Over the course of her career, I see her becoming a great player," Griner said.
"Brittney Griner for me is like a human measuring stick," McGee-Stafford said. "In high school I got compared to her a lot."
There was little else to compare the teams on the court.
Texas (9-13, 2-9) simply couldn't match Baylor's talent and depth throughout the lineup. Sims and the Lady Bear guards routinely picked the ball from the Longhorns, backtracked to shut down Texas fast breaks and seemed to grab every loose ball.
Simms, Madden and Kimitrea Hayden led a defensive effort that forced 25 turnovers, 15 in the first half
"I have two freshmen guards who ran the point tonight against a seasoned veteran (Sims) who is the best point guard in the country," first-year Texas coach Karen Aston said. "It was a chore for use to get the ball down the court."
Texas freshman guard Empress Davenport scored 13 points.
Griner, played only nine minutes in the first half with foul trouble, but finally shook things up with her dunk in the second.
Baylor led 46-37 when Griner took an inbound pass near the free throw line, dribbled once around McGee-Stafford and easily went to the basket unchecked for a casual two-handed slam. Hayden finished a fast break layup on the next Baylor possession.
The dunk came early in a 21-4 Baylor run the pushed the Lady Bears' lead to 62-41 with 8:18 left to play.
"It gave us some energy," Griner said. "It got us pumped up to keep making a run."
Baylor coach Kim Mulkey said she left Griner on the bench for most of the first half to force her team to play without her. When asked to compare this year's team to the one that went undefeated and won last season's national championship, Mulkey said, "more depth."
"When she goes out, it shows we can go on without her," Sims said.
-Following the 83rd meeting between Texas and Baylor, the Longhorns hold a 57-26 advantage since the first meeting Jan. 21, 1975 ... the Longhorns are now 27-9 all-time in games against the Bears in Austin.
-Tonight's game attendance was 6,693, the highest at the Erwin Center in 2012-2013 and nearly double the average attendance of the previous 11 games in Austin this season.
-Texas tied Baylor in the rebounding category with 40, marking just the second game in Big 12 play in which the Bears failed to out-rebound their opponent.
-The Longhorns are outrebounding their Big 12 foes 441-383 in 12 games this season.
-Posted her third double-double in the last four games and ninth of the season with a career-high 18 rebounds to go along with 13 points (5-of-16 FG, 1-of-1 3FG, 2-of-2 FT) in a career-high 38 minutes played ... tonight's game marked her 12th double-figure scoring output and 12th double-figure rebounding effort of the season.
-Sank her first 3-pointer of the season at the 16:25 mark of the second half.
-Posted second-straight 13-point output, one shy of her season high ... has reached double digits in seven games this season.
-Scored 10 points (3-of-14 FG, 1-of-5 3FG, 3-of-5 FT) for her 14th double-figure scoring effort of the season ... has reached double-figure points in nine of the last 11 games in which she has played.
Head coach Karen Aston
Opening statement: It's a typical Baylor performance where they are dominating on the defensive end, in my opinion. I am really proud of our team's effort. I'm proud that these two freshmen showed that they are willing to compete in this league. But more than anything, and what I told them in the locker room is, I would love to see our team prepare and compete on a daily basis the way that we did for this game. I think if we would begin to understand that's the preparation it takes every single day in the Big 12, then we will begin to get somewhere.
On losing the turnover battle: A lot of it had to do with how they put pressure on the basketball. They do a tremendous job of denying the passing lanes. They don't allow ball reversal because they can because of Griner's presence in the paint. It just creates bad decision-making. I thought of the 11 turnovers at halftime, all of those turnovers just about turned into points for them in the first half. Some of ours were dead ball turnovers in the second half. Its what they do. They are a tremendous defensive team
On Imani McGee-Stafford's performance: I thought it was really good. She can take so much from this game and so much from every Big 12 game. These freshmen sitting beside me have an opportunity that is unique. They are learning in the fire. Every single Big 12 game they play in, I hope that it's a learning experience for them. I would think that the Iowa State game was as much of a learning experience for Imani as tonight was. I'm proud of her effort. I thought she was tremendous on the boards. I thought she competed on every possession. But what I hope she learns is that the position that Brittney gets herself in on offense is where I want Imani to get. I want her to get one foot from the bucket, too, so that she can have easier shots, and I think she will learn that as she goes along.
On Baylor junior G Odyssey Sims: She's the best point guard in the country. I've had a unique experience having spent some time with [Baylor head coach] Kim [Mulkey] and understanding how hard they work in practice and how demanding everything is. I have a tremendous amount of respect for Kim and what they have done. Honestly, it is an extension of her; there is no question about that. She is a competitor. I thought at that first part of the second half she took over the game. I had two freshmen guards that ran the point tonight against a seasoned veteran who is the best point guard in the country, and they will learn. I was pleased with the way they competed. As Imani said, that is their measuring stick, because she is clearly the best point guard in the country. It's her ability to take over on both ends. It was a chore for us to get the ball down the floor, and that's what I love about (Odyssey) more than anything. I love defense and she dominates the game on the defensive end.
On where the turning point of the game was for Baylor to take the win: I don't think there was one particular thing. Obviously, our turnovers were huge. I thought Odyssey taking over at the beginning of the second half was a big difference, but again it was a `grind it out' sort of thing where it was possession after possession. It wasn't one particular moment. They just continued to do what they do and it wears on a team that struggles to score anyway. We couldn't get into offense and that's what they do to people. I thought along with Odyssey that [Baylor senior P] Destiny Williams was really big today. Her rebounding in the second half was really a huge difference.
Freshman C Imani McGee-Stafford
On playing against Baylor senior P Brittney Griner: I think the most important thing I can say is that this was a learning experience. Brittney Griner for me is like a human measuring stick. I get to see how far I have progressed from now. Being 6-7, I got compared to her a lot in high school. I was just excited to play her and see how far I can progress.
On if anything surprised her about playing against Griner: No, not really. My coaches did a really good job of preparing me on the scout. I tried to make sure I did everything they told me to.
Freshman G Empress Davenport
On Texas' future with the freshmen developing now: We are learning from every game that we have. I don't understand how we got so pumped up for this game. Like coach said, we should prepare for every game like we did this game. It's just a learning experience for us all.
Head coach Kim Mulkey
On how her team adjusted in the second after a close first half: I thought they played extremely hard. I thought it was a physical game. I thought it was a very good, hard-fought game.
On how her team played with Brittney Griner on the bench: I thought we were fine. Didn't we go up eleven? (We were) just running different sets and getting people different shots. You have to adjust.
On her team's on-the-ball defense and their ability to draw offensive fouls: Odyssey Sims pressures the ball so well. She's a gnat out there. There were times where they had two guards bringing it up just to keep her from stealing it or causing too much havoc. We're going to pressure you. She's really one of the best I've ever coached at doing that
On whether Griner's dominating play in the second half discouraged Texas from playing in the paint: I think Brittney is such a team player that sometimes she doesn't get the credit she deserves on how, even with two fouls, I could have put her back in and she could have played the wholegame without fouling out. I thought today was an opportunity to let our team grow without Brittney on the floor. I'd rather her be on the floor. But when she came back out there, she was a lot more aggressive. I thought she quit worrying about the foul situation because it was the second half. People have different philosophies. If you're going to come right at her, she is going to come right back at you. She had the eight blocks. That's what she does best. She'll go down in the history of the game as a game-changer from the defensive end of the floor. Not many players can say that.
On how her team this season compares to her national championship team last year: We have more depth. We didn't play a whole lot of them with extensive minutes today, but Alexis Prince is a freshman that is outstanding. Niya Johnson has played valuable minutes. What this team has been able to do is get big leads and allow us to get a lot ofpeople minutes that, in the past, we haven't been able to do. I think we'rebetter because we have more depth.
On whether her team is as "hungry" as they were last season: I have no complaints. They are 22-1. They play hard every day. They get on the floor and get the job done. I think we are getting everyone's best shot. I just want to compliment Texas. I thought they played extremely hard. They just played hard.
On her impressions of Imani McGee-Stafford: (I thought she was) outstanding. She's a big body in there. She's not afraid of physical play. I think she's a very good rebounder. She went against the best in the country today and I thought she did just fine.
Senior P Brittney Griner
On the affect of her dunk on game momentum in the second half: It gave us some energy. It got us pumped up and helped us keep making a run. It energized us.
On whether the dunk was a designed play: No, it just opened up. When I caught it, she stepped forward, so I was able to step past her and just go up.
On whether dunking is still thrilling for her: No, I do (still enjoy it). I'm hard on myself. It wasn't the best game ever. (Ihad) two quick fouls in the beginning of the game, so I had to sit on the bench. I couldn't help my team. I'm not too thrilled, but I'm happy I got the dunk, I guess.
On how she rates the play of Imani McGee-Stafford: Good. She's a big that wants to bang in the post. Over the course of her career, I see her becoming a great player.
On whether her low rebounding figures today can be attributed to Texas blocking out: I definitely wasn't as aggressive as I need to be. I'd need to look at the film. I got boxed out pretty hard. It's a big effort to box me out. I give credit to Texas.
Junior G Odyssey Sims
On her team having continued success without Griner when Griner is on the bench: When she goes out, it just shows how strong we are that we can pay without her in critical games. We just ran different sets as far as getting other people the ball. We were really working on executing our offense.
On what her team did to pull away in the second half: Really, we just kept playing and didn't let the physical play or the refs get in our heads. We stuck together. We got the ball into B.G. (Brittney Griner). We executed more and talked amongst ourselves. We just tried to pound it inside.