Hello out there denizens of ODB! I'm back from sunny and snowy Colorado and ready for the next installment in Baylor basketball's 2012 adventure! I'm looking forward to tonight's game, which will be broadcast nationally on ESPN starting at 8:00 CST and is the only game featuring a ranked team anywhere on the schedule. That's pretty neat.
Saturday's loss at home vs. KState was not good. Not good at all. Let's go ahead and not talk about it anymore other than to say that Baylor needs to rebound from it not only to keep their current seed (I see them as a #3 just about everywhere) but also to silence the naysayers and correct some of their flaws. It's always a positive to beat Texas no matter the sport, as well.
Looking at Texas for a moment, this game is incredibly important for them in terms of a tournament resume. Texas (17-10, 7-7 in the Big XII) is firmly on the Bubble by most accounts and needs a statement win to secure a birth. If you believe the pundits, Texas may actually need to win all of their remaining games (excluding Kansas, which is highly unlikely) to have a chance, so it is less of needing a "statement win" and more about just needing to win period. To say it differently, a loss to Baylor tonight could be the last nail in Texas's tournament coffin.
Below the jump I'll give you a few thoughts about tonight's game in addition to Tom's excellent preview from earlier today. For now, here are a few links to tide you over until the game starts. The first is a statistical preview from our friends over at BON, the UT blog on SBNation.
Statistical Scouting Report of the Baylor Bears on Offense - Burnt Orange Nation- Tons of good information here about our offense. Definitely worth a read.
No. 13 MBB Visits Long-Time Rival Texas - Baylor Bears Official Athletic Site - BaylorBears.com
No. 13/14 Baylor (22-5, 9-5) travels south to the state capital to face long-time conference rival Texas (17-10, 7-7) and will attempt to sweep the Longhorns for the second time in the last three seasons.
#14 Baylor vs. Texas - Men's College Basketball - Watch Live Basketball
Texas may be in need of a signature win to boost its NCAA tournament chances, and Monday night's meeting with Baylor represents an excellent chance to get one.
Baylor-Texas Preview - College Basketball - Rivals.com
Texas may be in need of a signature win to boost its NCAA tournament chances, and Monday night's meeting with Baylor represents an excellent chance to get one. The Longhorns are 0-6 versus ranked opponents heading into a Big 12 rematch in Austin against a No. 13 Bears team that has dropped three of four.
Let's talk a little bit below the jump...
In looking at tonight's game, a few things jump out that I'm concerned about going in and thought I'd share. Some of this is going to be repetitive considering Tom's preview, but I don't really care.
- Venue -- The game is in Austin. That is never an easy place for us to play specifically, but Baylor actually hasn't been a bad road team this year, particularly in conference play.
- Free Throws -- In Texas's last two home games-- wins against Kansas State and Texas Tech-- the Longhorns shot 48 and 31 free throws, respectively. In the game against KState, 36 of those FTs came in the second half with Texas trailing big. I'm not saying anything untoward happened, though it wouldn't surprise me one bit, but that kind of disparity-- KState only shot 12 FTs in the entire game-- can't be explained by simply saying Texas was more aggressive. A home field advantage is likely at play here, and it may manifest itself tonight in a must-win game for Texas. I wouldn't expect a 48-12 advantage for UT, but given how aggressive J'Covan Brown is and the fact that the game is in Austin, I would bet almost anything that it's a fairly large gap.
- Perry Jones III -- He just needs to show up. Baylor's offense suffers tremendously when he is unable to get going and fades from the game, as he often does, and for Baylor to win tonight, it will likely need a big performance from its best player. Quincy Miller, who is playing about as well as he has this season, can't do it alone.
- 3-Point Defense: The book on Baylor's zone defense has been written and distributed; we are susceptible to teams that can shoot the 3. In each of our last 3 games (2 of which were losses) against Missouri, Iowa State, and Kansas State, our opponents have taken 20 or more shots from beyond the arc. Against Missouri, that strategy paid off in a display of marksmanship unlike any I've ever seen. ISU wasn't so lucky because their shooters aren't as good, and Kansas State ended up winning mostly because of Baylor's turnovers, but both teams still gave it everything they had to bust the zone from the outside. UT can and will try to do the exact same thing tonight.