Week In Review
Oklahoma State 74 Baylor 65
Waco, Texas • Attendance: 6,720
This one was quite the buzzkill. Coming off of a huge road win at West Virginia, Baylor was looking to continue their push into the Big 12 championship mix against Oklahoma State, a team the Bears had not lost to at home since 2006. However, Baylor did not put its "A" game on display and OSU took advantage in a 74-65 Cowboy win at the Ferrell Center. The Bears shot the ball extremely well in the 1st half and were led by 14 points off the bench from Taurean Prince, but only took a 1 point lead into halftime as 9 first half turnovers allowed OSU to hang around. This would come back to haunt Baylor as the Cowboys got hot from 3 point range early in the 2nd half and built an 11 point lead. The Bears tightened up defensively but were just unable to get out of their own way offensively and couldn't make up the deficit despite a big 2nd half from Rico Gathers, who had another 16 points and 16 rebounds on the night. Baylor's bench outscored Oklahoma State's 25-0 but the Bears were unable to complete the comeback and fell to 6-5 in Big 12 play. This was a disappointing result given how the Bears had played in the previous 3 games and knowing the challenge that awaited in Lawrence on Saturday.
Kansas 74 Baylor 64
Lawrence, Kan. • Attendance: 16,300
Baylor jumped on Kansas early and made the Jayhawks sweat late into the 2nd half but were unable to pull off the big upset as KU continued its home dominance in Allen Fieldhouse with a 74-64 win over the Bears. Baylor came out of the gates white hot from the field and built a 23-10 lead in the game's opening 8 minutes. Kansas came back as Kelly Oubre and Wayne Selden shot KU right back into the game but the Bears held off the charge to take a 33-27 lead into halftime. Rico Gathers, Kenny Chery and Taurean Prince all played well to give BU the halftime edge, the first time Baylor had ever led at the half in Lawrence in 13 tries. The 2nd half was a different story as the Bears went into a dry spell shooting the ball despite some open looks. Kansas went on a big run at the start of the half and on several occasions, looked as if they were ready to pull away from Baylor. Yet the Bears scrapped and clawed to stay in the game as they've done all season despite the tough environment, the Jayhawks' hot shooting, and some foul calls that were um...questionable at best. The bottom line is that Baylor didn't make enough shots in this game to pull it off. With 5 minutes to play, Prince had two wide open 3 point looks that would've given the Bears the lead but was unable to knock either shot down. That would be the last real opportunity for BU as Kansas pulled away with some free throws in the final minutes. This one goes down in the loss column but I was proud of the way Baylor battled in this game. A majority of teams get hammered in Allen Fieldhouse, especially on a national stage like the game Saturday was with CBS in the building. Despite the defeat, the Bears showed a lot of people why they are capable of a deep tournament run in March.
Baylor at Texas Tech
United Supermarkets Arena (Lubbock, TX)
Feb. 17, 6:00 PM CT
Letdown game alert. Baylor opens the week with a Tuesday night game in Lubbock in their first meeting of the season with Texas Tech. No matter how good or bad the Red Raiders are, and they're pretty atrocious this season, playing in Lubbock is always a dicey proposition. The Bears should be well familiar with this as they got spanked by Tech 82-72 last season when they took a #12 ranking out to the South Plains. Tubby Smith's crew has already beaten Iowa State and Kansas State at home this season so Baylor needs to come ready to play. The Bears should have a solid advantage on the defensive end in this game, going up against Texas Tech's offense which ranks 271st nationally in KenPom and has averaged a grotesque 48 points/game in their last 6 contests. When the Red Raiders have had success offensively, it's been when freshman guard Devaugntah Williams has gotten hot as he scored 22 points in both of Tech's conference wins and is their only player averaging over 10 points/game. Tech barely shoots 30% as a team from the 3 point line so expect the Bears to pack in the zone and make the Red Raiders beat them over the top. On the offensive end, Rico Gathers should have a field day against a defense that struggles to keep their opponents off of the offensive glass. If Baylor comes ready to play, they should be well off in this game but you don't want to give Tech the hope that they can hang around and pull off another upset.
Kansas State at Baylor
Ferrell Center (Waco, TX)
Feb. 21, 12:00 PM CT
Baylor returns to the friendly confines of the Ferrell Center on Saturday against the K-State Wildcats. This is a rematch of what is probably the most frustrating game of Baylor's season, a 63-61 loss to K-State in Manhattan back on January 17th. The Bears controlled the game for the first 30 minutes and had as much as a 12 point lead in the second half, but the offense betrayed Baylor late and KSU came back to squeak it out. Baylor was led by 21 points from Kenny Chery and 20 from Taurean Prince but no other Baylor player had more than 6 on the night. It ruined a really nice defensive effort from the Bears as they held K-State's main offensive weapon Marcus Foster to just 11 points. That game moved the Wildcats to 4-1 in Big 12 play but they have stumbled of late, having lost 5 straight games before a big home win against Oklahoma last Saturday. Outside of Foster, the Wildcats really struggle to find consistent offense, although second leading scorer Nino Williams had a nice day against Baylor in the first meeting. K-State will try to turn the game into a bare knuckle brawl so the Bears need to be ready for a slugfest. If Baylor can find its typical home shooting form, I think the Bears have a chance to make a statement in this game. This is a critical week for Baylor to get back on track and work towards obtaining a high seed in the Big 12 and NCAA tournaments.
Big 12 Update
Iowa State is probably the only team still within striking distance of Kansas for the Big 12 crown but the Cyclones will need help as they have already played the Jayhawks twice. Only 2 wins separate 2nd from 8th in the conference if you were wondering just how competitive this league is.
|#14 Iowa State||8-4||2||0.667||18-6||0.750||W1|
|#23 West Virginia||7-5||3||0.583||19-6||0.760||L1|
|#22 Oklahoma St||7-6||3.5||0.538||17-8||0.680||L1|
Here's what the Big 12 tournament bracket would look like if the tournament started today. It's key for the Bears to stay in the top 6 if at all possible to avoid having to play the opening round like they did last year.
The 0-2 week really hampered Baylor's KenPom numbers as they fell all the way from 10th to...11th. That can happen when you play two other teams in the top 25.
|Strength of Schedule||NCSOS|
AP Top 25
The Bears dropped from 16 to 20 after the losses to Oklahoma State and Kansas. That Baylor only dropped 4 spots speaks to the national perception of how strong the Big 12 is this season. Once again, there are 6 teams from the league in this week's top 25.
|AP Top 25|