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STILLWATER — Taylen Collins knows her job on Wednesday night.
More accurately, she knows her jobs — because there will be multiple tasks at hand for Oklahoma State’s sophomore forward when the Cowgirls visit No. 18 Oklahoma for the season’s first edition of Bedlam women’s basketball at 6 p.m. at the Lloyd Noble Center.
“Because they run positionless offense, I’m gonna be outside playing drives, inside guarding the posts,” Collins said. “It’s gonna be a mixture of everything all night.”
Collins is a key figure in the Cowgirl defense, which is allowing 63.3 points per game in Big 12 play, while forcing 16.3 turnovers per game by conference opponents.
OU has a multi-faceted offensive attack that is averaging 87.1 points per game. Forward Madi Williams and guard Taylor Robertson lead the team, both averaging more than 18 points per game, but the Sooners have players who can score from all areas of the court.
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“They score at five different positions,” OSU coach Jim Littell said. “They play fast. They’re very connected offensively right now.
“Depending on who’s on the floor for them and who’s on the floor for us, we gotta be able to guard multiple people. They play a positionless system. They can have anybody at any position, and that’s pretty effective. That’s hard to guard.”
That’s why Collins’ role will be so important on Wednesday. The 6-foot-1 sophomore — and daughter of former Cowboy Terry Collins, who played on the 1995 Final Four team — is OSU’s most versatile defender.
“Tay is one of the most athletic people I’ve ever met in my life. She can do just about anything,” OSU guard Lexy Keys said. “She can guard a guard. She can guard a post. She always has one of the hardest assignments to guard, and I think having her in there makes a difference.
“She has the heart, and I think that’s the biggest thing. She’s gonna play hard no matter what. If she’s having an off game on offense, her defense is gonna be there. Having her on defense, you always have a safety in the back. She’s there to pick off screens or do whatever you need her to.”
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The last two games, the Cowgirls have been without their best perimeter defender, junior guard Lauren Fields, and it’s unknown if she’ll be back in the lineup on Wednesday. Without her, the rest of the team has had to pick up the slack, and Collins has led the way in that effort.
“She’s a big piece on both ends of the floor. We need to be able to attack inside," Littell said. "We need to be able to get her in some driving situations. And then she’s a kid that’s gotta be one of our top defenders as well, so there’s a lot asked upon Taylen Collins.”
Collins’ offensive production has been on the rise lately, averaging 16.3 points and 7.3 rebounds over the last three games.
But she knows her role begins with defense against the Sooners.
“Defense is our strong point, and playing defense in this game is gonna be critical, because they have multiple people putting up big numbers, and they’ve been playing really good here recently,” Collins said. “Getting down and hitting those key points, like making sure you’re in the passing lane, making sure you’re in the spot to help, it’s gonna be very important.”
This article originally appeared on Oklahoman: OSU women's basketball: Cowgirls need Taylen Collins' defense vs. OU