|No. 13/15 Baylor (15-3, 5-1) vs. No. 1/1 Oklahoma (15-2, 4-2)
Jan. 23, 2016 | 11:00 a.m. CT
Waco, Texas | Ferrell Center (10,284)
TV: ESPN and WatchESPN
Radio: ESPN Central Texas
Today's matchup needs little preview. Oklahoma has a red-hot offense that overshadows an incredibly efficient defense. The Sooners set a high pace of play and force their opponent to play faster than they're comfortable. The Bears know that they cannot get into a track meet against the likes of Buddy Hield, who by late-January seems already to have iced the Big XII Player of the Year award. When he starts raining down threes from 25 feet, though, it will be hard for Baylor not to press in an attempt to keep up.
It is this urgency that undoes teams against OU. The Sooners play excellent transition defense, forcing teams to shoot an eFG% of just 47.6%. By comparison, Baylor is currently at 64.6 eFG% in transition on offense. OU's interchangeable perimeter players and fluid front court players Ryan Spangler and Khadeem Lattin do an excellent job of running back and getting into position. Baylor has the athletes to run with OU, but the Bears' style all season has been to control pace with multiple screen-and-rolls and off-ball screens setting up post position. If Taurean Prince and Lester Medford aren't disciplined in their shot selection, this game could get away from them quickly.
Scott Drew will likely begin the game in the normal 1-3-1 zone, which could spell disaster if rotations are even a hair late. Spangler is a zone-buster, Lattin is always lurking in the dunker's spot on the weak side, and Hield's back court partners Isaiah Cousins (42.3% from three) and Jordan Woodard (53.2% from three), are both capable of driving into the teeth of an off-kilter defense and shooting from deep if given any space. Then there's Hield, who is shooting 51.5% from deep on an absurd 8 attempts per game.
A more advisable course would be for Drew to use man-to-man defense. Whoever draws the assignment of covering Hield -- likely a mix of Prince, Ish Wainright, Jake Lindsey, and Al Freeman -- will have to live in his jersey all game and deny him the ball. A box-and-1 or triangle-and-2 might be tossed in at select moments, but those types of odd defenses are difficult to maintain for long stretches. Drew will need to get Prince on Hield as often as possible.
This will be a tough one. Let's cheer on the Bears as they try to upset the #1 team in the country!