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Another tight race seen for Big 12 women

(Kansas City-AP) -- The Big 12 last year saw the closest women's basketball race in the league's brief history.

There could be more of the same this season.

Iowa State, Oklahoma and Texas Tech shared the regular-season title last season and should be in the thick of the race again, with pressure coming from Texas, Kansas and perhaps Colorado.

Texas coach Jody Conradt says it's going to be a very interesting year in the Big 12.

In a close vote, Iowa State was the top pick of the coaches, with Oklahoma second and Texas Tech third.

Though Iowa State no longer has sharp-shooting guard Stacy Frese and athletic forward Desiree Francis, the Cyclones still have the talent to make a run at the title.

Coach Bill Fennelly, whose team won the conference tournament and reached the third round of N-C-A-A play, doesn't mind the pressure. He takes it as a compliment.

Oklahoma lost player of the year Phylesha Whaley but returns everyone else of consequence.

Texas Tech lost three starters and is counting on a highly regarded recruiting class for help.

Junior college transfer Candi White will start at point guard and coach Marsha Sharp said freshman Natalie Ritchie could be the best shooter she's ever had.

Texas has four starters and seven other players returning to help offset the loss of Edwina Brown.

Texas A-and-M might have some growing pains. Nine of the Aggies' 13 players are freshmen and sophomores.

Four starters return for new Baylor coach Kim Mulkey-Robertson, who inherits a 7-and-20 team that finished the regular season with losses of 33 points to Iowa State and 53 to Texas Tech.

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