Week In Review
#23 Baylor 72 Texas Southern 59
Waco, Texas • Attendance: 5,223
While you were getting set for the Russell Athletic Bowl, Baylor basketball was finishing up the non-conference portion of the schedule against Texas Southern. The Tigers hung tough in the 1st half and early in the 2nd but Baylor got a 10-0 run midway through the 2nd half to effectively put the game out of reach. The Bears once again came out of the gates slow on the defensive end, allowing Texas Southern to shoot 48.3% in the 1st half before clamping down after halftime. Al Freeman had another nice game to lead the way with 21 points and Terry Maston added 14 off the bench to help Baylor overcome a rough shooting afternoon from Taurean Prince. Rico Gathers pitched in with another double-double as he continues to close in on 1,000 rebounds for his career. And with that, it was on to Big 12 play.
#2 Kansas 102 #23 Baylor 74
Box Score | Notes | USATSI Gallery | Postgame
Lawrence, Kansas • Attendance: 16,300
Baylor came into this game 0-13 all-time at Allen Fieldhouse and the Jayhawks quickly made it clear that the streak would continue, jumping out to a 24-4 lead and never looking back to hand the Bears their worst loss since January 2007 when they lost to Oklahoma by 40. KU came out absolutely on fire and torched Baylor’s zone, making six 3’s before the first media timeout. Wayne Selden in particular had a monster game for Kansas with an 18 point 1st half on 7-9 shooting. This quickly forced Scott Drew into a man defense for the rest of the afternoon, but this didn’t solve the issue either. Baylor was able to withstand the early onslaught and was able to get within 12 right at the end of the 1st half to give themselves a fighter’s chance. The Bears did a nice job of being aggressive and getting to the free throw line all afternoon, hitting 25-31 from the charity stripe. But Baylor is clearly lacking a reliable weapon from the three point line to combat some of the elite defenses they will face in the Big 12. This allows the defense to close in on the interior and make life more difficult on Lester Medford to penetrate and for guys like Rico Gathers and Johnathan Motley to get clean looks. This will be something to watch as we get further into conference play. But the bottom line in this game for me is that the Bears needed Kansas to be off their game to have a shot and the Jayhawks brought their A+ game. This is the #1 team in the new AP poll for a reason. They’re an extremely talented team that has several guys who have played together for a few years now in Selden, Perry Ellis, and Frank Mason among others. That’s pretty rare in the current college basketball landscape. If they play the way they did Saturday, it’s going to be damn near impossible for anyone to beat them in Lawrence this year. The Bears just need to bounce back and get ready for a pivotal home game Tuesday night.
Oklahoma State @ Baylor
Ferrell Center (Waco, TX)
Jan. 5, 7:00 PM CT
The first conference game in the Ferrell Center for 2016 brings Travis Ford’s Oklahoma State Cowboys to town. OSU opened up Big 12 play with an emphatic home win over TCU and now the Pokes bring their act on the road. It’s been tough sledding at times for Travis Ford lately in Stillwater and this season’s start hasn’t exactly quieted his naysayers with losses to Tulsa, George Mason and Missouri State staining the Cowboys’ out of conference schedule. But OSU has been playing better of late, especially on the defensive end where they rank top 50 in KenPom AdjD. The Cowboys have struggled offensively though and over the weekend learned that they will be without leading scorer Phil Forte for the remainder of the season with an elbow injury. A lot of the pressure now falls on talented freshman point guard Juwan Evans to create open looks for his teammates. Jeff Newberry is a guy that could step up for them as well and he had a couple nice games against Baylor last season. OSU is not a great outside shooting team, especially now that Forte is out of the lineup, so I expect that the Bears could have a bit more success with the zone defense than they have shown at times this season. It’s also worth pointing out that this will be Oklahoma State’s first true road game all season so it will be interesting to see how some of their younger players handle the situation. Baylor has been a great home team the last couple years and that needs to continue tonight. If you have the opportunity to be in Waco at 7:00 tonight, I’m sure we can use you since the students are not yet back on campus.
Baylor @ #13 Iowa State
Hilton Coliseum (Ames, IA)
Jan. 9, 2:00 PM CT
The weekend provides another stiff road test as the Bears travel up to Ames to take on Iowa State. The Cyclones will likely be out for blood after Baylor swept the season series a year ago, including a memorable Bears win at Hilton Coliseum which is Iowa State’s only home loss to a team not named Kansas since 2012. The Cyclones have been ranked as high as #4 earlier in the season but have now fallen out of the top 10 with recent losses to Northern Iowa and Oklahoma. It’s a similar cast of characters in Ames with Georges Niang, Monte Morris, Abdel Nader and Jameel McKay leading a balanced and versatile attack. Fred Hoiberg has moved on to the NBA to coach the Chicago Bulls but new coach Steve Prohm has tried to make a smooth transition with all of the talent at his disposal and this team has a very similar profile as those that Hoiberg led in prior seasons. This will make for another big test for Baylor defensively since Iowa State is capable of lighting it up from 3, especially in Hilton Coliseum. Baylor was also able to limit turnovers in both wins against ISU last season, something that they will have to repeat in order to hang with Cyclones in Ames.
Taurean Prince comes into tonight's game 16 points shy of the 1,000 point mark for his career. When he gets to that mark, he'll be the 30th Baylor player to reach 1,000 points and the 12th to do so in Scott Drew's tenure at BU. Also, Rico Gathers sits 12 rebounds shy of becoming the first Baylor player to ever grab 1,000 rebounds in his career. Some things to keep an eye on tonight.
Big 12 Update
|#17 West Virginia||2-0||--||1.000||13-1||0.929||W6|
|#13 Iowa State||0-1||1.5||0.000||11-2||0.846||L1|
#19 West Virginia 87 Kansas State 83 (2OT)
Texas Tech 82 Texas 74
Oklahoma State 69 TCU 48
#3 Oklahoma 87 #11 Iowa State 83
#17 West Virginia 95 TCU 87
#1 Kansas 109 #2 Oklahoma 106 (3OT) - side note: if you missed this game, bruhhhhhh
AP Top 25
|Others receiving votes: Gonzaga 61, California 54, Texas Tech 40, George Washington 38, Saint Mary's 23, Baylor 22, Oregon State 4, Colorado 4, Seton Hall 4, Saint Joseph's 3, Wichita St 3, Utah 3, Cincinnati 2, Indiana 2, Michigan 2, Akron 1, Oregon 1|
|Dropped from rankings: Utah 21, Cincinnati 22, Baylor 23, UCLA 25|