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Yet with Griner in the middle and Sims stepping up, the Lady Bears never really missed a beat.

The shot-blocking Griner averages 22.2 points and 7.8 rebounds a game. Sims is scoring 13.3 points a game while making 55 percent of her shots, including a Big 12-best 48 percent on 3-pointers. The freshman has 48 assists and 28 steals with only 27 turnovers in her 18 games.

Odyssey Sims at the point, she spreads the floor out because she’s such a great 3-point shooter. That allows Brittney more room and more space to work inside,” Goestenkors said. “She’s making really mature decisions as a freshman. … She’s just going to continue to get better and better, which is very scary because they’re so good now.”

The Lady Bears lead the Big 12 in scoring (82.7 points per game) and the nation in scoring margin (32.4). They also top the league in field goal shooting, field goal defense and rebounding margin.

Baylor added a pair of sophomore post players who have started after transferring from other Division I schools _ Brooklyn Pope from Rutgers and Destiny Williams from Illinois.

Jones, the senior co-captain, is the only one of the team’s five upperclassmen playing more than 13 minutes a game. Sims and five sophomores are playing more than that, as did Washington before getting hurt.

“If we don’t make it to the Final Four, it was something we did wrong,” Griner said. “That’s the expectation, to make it there. … We’re on the right track.”

The Lady Bears advanced to the Final Four last season before losing to Connecticut, which went on to stretch its winning streak to a record 90 in a row before losing at Stanford in December.

As for talk about the potential of multiple championships for Baylor, Mulkey insists she is concentrating on now and “not focused on what could be” for the young and talented team that has so far handled being No. 1.

“This is an area where honestly youth probably has served us well because they don’t understand the pressure that some teams probably would if they were older,” Mulkey said. “They don’t sit around and worry about losing the next game and not being No. 1, or winning the next game and remaining No. 1.

“They want to win a championship, and that’s been their focus,” she said. “They want to win a Big 12 championship and get to the NCAA tournament and try to vie for a national championship.”

Or two, or three.