No. 20 Baylor (19-7, 7-6) vs. Kansas State (13-14, 6-8)
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In Manhattan, Baylor jumped out to a 22-8 lead in the first half and lead by 9 at the start of the 2nd. From there, Kansas State outscored Baylor 39-28 to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. Kenny Chery was the only Bear who could knock down an outside shot, and Taurean Prince was the only other Bear to score in double figure.
That was a long time ago.
Since then, Kansas State has lost to TCU and Texas Tech on the road, West Virginia twice, and Texas in Manhattan. They've also beaten Oklahoma. In good Big 12 fashion, even as a middling team Kansas State is dangerous.
The Marcus Foster situation is pretty odd. He is Kansas State's best player. He's also had run-ins with coach Bruce Webber, earning a multi-game suspension and has come off the bench since returning. Foster can knock down shots, and he's as dangerous as any guard in the Big 12. Baylor and Scott Drew have been good at game planning against leading guards, such as Kyan Anderson and Juwan Staten, and Foster only totaled 11 points in the last contest. Nino Williams, a senior 6-5 forward, was the most dangerous Wildcat, and seems likely to be so again. He can navigate the cracks in the zone, and if K-State can get him the ball inside, he'll be a threat to make the short jumper and to score over Rico Gathers, who for all his positive qualities is not a good rim protector.
For Baylor's part, Prince continues to blossom into a go-to scorer. He has a straight line dribble when the defense closes in, can knock down jumpers, and knows how to take advantage of his size against smaller players. He can be a bit of a blackhole at times, but he's steadily reducing the number of mistakes he makes trying to do too much.
Gathers had a poor game in Lubbock, apparently the result of being sick. He lacked energy all game, and I saw him let rebounds slip away that he would normally rip down. If he's recovered, I expect him to have a big game to make up for Tuesday.
Lester Medford is the guy I want to see have a good game. He had a four game stretch from Oklahoma to TCU where he was hitting threes and attacking the rim, collapsing the defense and opening up shots for teammates. Since then, apart from an 8 minute stretch in the 2nd half against Tech, he's had trouble hitting shots and has turned the ball over at a higher rate than the rest of the season. If he can get into a rhythm heading into the postseason, Baylor will be much harder to defend.
If you want some more preview, check out our Q&A with Bring on the Cats and their Q&A with us.
1.) High energy: Baylor lost at home to Oklahoma State in large part to a lack of defensive energy. If the Bears break up the passes inside to Williams and Thomas Gipson, K-State will have a tough time scoring points.
2.) Move the ball: When things get tough, Baylor has a tendency to pound the rock and go one-on-one rather than passing the ball to create open shots.
3.) Limit Foster: He has the ability to get his shot off almost whenever he wants, but as long as it's a tough shot, Baylor can live with that, even if he makes it.
Baylor enters the game as a 9-point favorite, and KenPom favors the Bears by 12 points with an 89% chance of victory. I foresee Prince and Gathers with big games, while Medford and Royce O'Neale have solid contributions that are impactful without being flashy. Kansas State 59 -- Baylor 68.