The Big 12 and Southeastern Conference women’s basketball seasons open Thursday night and Kansas, Kansas State and Missouri are all in action.
The Kansas City Star
The Tigers head to 9-5 Mississippi for a 6 p.m. tipoff while the Jayhawks play host to 11-1 West Virginia and the Wildcats play host to 10-1 and No. 9 Baylor at 7 p.m.
Here’s a glance at each team’s nonconference season:
• Top players: Juniors Chelsea Gardner (17.7 points per game) and Asia Boyd (13.8) lead KU in scoring and have combined for six double-doubles. Gardner, who leads the Jayhawks with 8.3 rebounds per game, has four of them.
• Tough slate: Two of KU’s losses are to ranked teams — 73-40 to No. 3 Duke in the Virgin Islands and 71-68 to No. 17 Purdue at Allen Fieldhouse.
• Local flavor: Junior Natalie Knight of Olathe South has started all 12 games at point guard. She’s made 43 assists to 16 turnovers and is averaging 8.0 points per game.
KANSAS STATE (6-5)
• Fresh face: The Wildcats are led by freshman Leticia Romero, a 5-8 guard from Las Palmas, Spain, who has team-high averages of 12.6 points, 5.9 rebounds and 5.8 assists.
• Local players: K-State has two freshmen from the KC area: 6-3 forward Jessica Sheble from Olathe North, who averages 5.6 rebounds per game, and 5-8 guard Kindred Wesemann of Pleasant Hill, who has hit nine three-pointers. Wildcats senior Chantay Caron, who averages 5.1 points, is from Lawrence Free State.
• Big bench: The Wildcats’ bench has outscored their opponents in 10 of 11 games. Sheble scored 11 points off the bench and shot five for five from the field in K-State’s last game.
• Local leaders: MU has two Kansas City-area starters: 6-foot-1 senior forward Bri Kulas, a Shawnee Mission North grad who transferred from Kansas State and Johnson County Community College, leads the team with 17.2 points per game and also averages 5.8 rebounds. Bree Fowler, a 5-9 junior guard from Staley, has started 12 of 13 games and averages 3.0 points.
• Home cooking: The Tigers are undefeated at home, going 8-0. They return to Mizzou Arena on Sunday to play Arkansas.
• Defensive minded: MU is allowing only 58.5 points per game and ranks second in the SEC with 30.8 defensive rebounds a game.