|No. 25/22 Baylor (19-8, 8-5) at No. 24/25 Texas (17-9, 8-5)|
Feb. 20, 2016 | 1:00 p.m. CT
Austin, Texas | Erwin Center (16,734)
TV: ESPN and WatchESPN
Radio: Tune In App | Sirius 84 | XM 84 | ESPN Central Texas
When these teams met in Waco, Texas won 67-59 on the back of Prince Ibeh and some hot outside shooting from Connor Lammert. Isaiah Taylor and a litany or young wing defenders made the game tough for Baylor on the perimeter, even as Rico Gathers had one of his better offensive games of the season.
Gathers missed Tuesday's game against Iowa State due to illness, which had also held him out of the game in Manhattan the week before. As of Friday afternoon, the official team Twitter account released that he is a game-time decision today. While Gathers' absence against Kansas State and ISU was somewhat unfelt - Baylor won both of those games - Baylor could be in a bad spot against the Longhorns.
Ibeh's size, length, and strength dominated the paint on both ends of the floor the last time these two teams met. While Johnathan Motley and Terry Maston held their own on Tuesday night, Ibeh presents a much more formidable opponent. In the last matchup, Motley fouled out in 15 minutes of play. Maston had 2 points, was 0-2 from the floor, and recorded no other stats. It'd be tough for them to repeat such poor performances, but if Gathers is out again, Scott Drew will have to experiment further with some small lineups. Those have been fairly effective the last two weeks, and no one loves #WeirdBasketball more than I do, but I'm worried Ibeh might roll over Baylor inside like a tank over a picket fence.
This game is hugely important for these teams. Both have Kansas and Oklahoma remaining, and Texas will have road games at Oklahoma State and Kansas State, far from guaranteed wins. Splitting against the Longhorns would be a big boost for Baylor's resume and would alleviate some pressure in this tough closing stretch.
Taurean Prince said after the Iowa State game that he likes to play on the road. Let's hope that's the case after this game, too.