Baylor (20-3, 7-3) plays Oklahoma State (15-8, 4-6) at 6:00 on Wednesday. The game is in Stillwater.
Baylor won the first matchup 61-57. Baylor shot poorly in that one, but the defense played well enough. Oklahoma State averaged just .97 points per possession, well off their season average of 1.25 points per possession.
Oklahoma State is rolling lately. They just won in Morgantown, which marked their fifth straight victory. This may be the toughest game left on Baylor’s schedule.
The Cowboys offense is fantastic. Oklahoma State ranks 2nd in adjusted offensive efficiency on KenPom. Phil Forte went 5 of 7 from 3-point range in the first game between the teams. Jawun Evans is one of the best point guards in the country and ranks 10th in KenPom’s player of the year rankings. And then there’s Jeffrey Carroll, a 6’6 star shooting 47% from behind the arc.
Baylor has a superb defense though. The Bears are 5th in adjusted defensive efficiency on KenPom. Baylor has three big challenges defending Oklahoma State. First, Oklahoma State is excellent on the glass. They rank 3rd in offensive rebounding on KenPom. The Cowboys grabbed 19 offensive rebounds in the first game, including four from Mitchell Solomon:
Second, Oklahoma State can drill 3-point shots. Evans, Carroll, and Forte are all shooting above 40% from deep. Everyone knows about Forte, but he still made just about everything against Baylor. It’s hard to defend a guy that can do this:
Third, Oklahoma State’s offense gets it done in transition. With a point guard like Evans, a shooter like Forte, and an offensive mastermind like Carroll, that’s understandable. But even with talented guys, you have to marvel at a transition offense that ranks in the 97th percentile on Synergy. Baylor did a solid job limiting these opportunities in the first contest though. That will be a challenge the second time.
Baylor is going to have to play much better offensively than they have for much of the season. Luckily, Oklahoma State’s defense has struggled. The Cowboys are just 118th in adjusted defensive efficiency. They foul (343rd in free throw rate), give up offensive rebounds (309th), and have a terrible field goal defense (215th). Oklahoma State does a good job turning teams over though. They rank 27th in defensive turnover percentage. But as a result of their aggressive play, Terry Maston had a strong game. Here, Al Freeman hits Maston after Oklahoma State tries to trap him:
Johnathan Motley also had a good game. Oklahoma State limited Motley’s touches, but their trapping style left him chances to slip to the rim as well:
Like many Big 12 games, this one is tough to project. Oklahoma State has a wonderful offense and any of Carroll, Forte, or Evans could make winning on the road nearly impossible. Brad Underwood is also one of the best coaches in the country, and Kansas State passing up the chance to hire him will remain baffling for years.
Baylor really is due for a great game from Al Freeman or King McClure. I continue to think one of those guys will break out again. They are just way too talented to keep struggling. Oklahoma State leaves a lot of guys open and either guy should be able to get to the free throw line, if they take advantage of opportunities.
I think Baylor is a little bit better than Oklahoma State and Freeman or McClure has a nice night from the perimeter. This is probably Baylor’s toughest remaining game (because it’s on the road against a good team), but Baylor should come out aggressive after an 0-2 week. I’ll take Baylor 68-63.