The Baylor Bears (16-2, 4-2) roll into Norman with the mission of sweeping the Oklahoma Sooners (12-6, 2-4) and making up lost ground in the conference race. After dropping two home games last week, the Bears have to pick up wins on the road if they hope to gain ground on the conference leading Kansas Jayhawks (15-2, 4-1).
Last time these teams met in Waco, Baylor pulled ahead late 84-74 on 7 free throws in the final 40 seconds as the Sooners attempted to foul their way back into the game. That game was closer than the 10-point final deficit. OU shot nearly 56% from the floor despite shooting 25% on threes, and OU had a +3 turnover differential. The Sooners were a perfect 16-16 on layup attempts, a sign that Baylor didn’t provide much intimidation at the rim when Oklahoma got the ball inside.
Baylor was also perfect on layups (10-10), plus a hot 6-14 (43%) on threes. James Akinjo (a game time decision today with a lower back injury) had a dominant 27 point showing, while his backcourt partner Adam Flagler dropped 22. Jonathan Tchamwa-Tchatchoua was the only other Bear to score in double-figures with 12.
Baylor will need the presence of Tchamwa-Tchatchoua and Flo Thamba defensively as Porter Moser’s Sooners attempt to work the offense through Washington State transfer big man Tanner Groves, who had 13 points in the previous matchup. Baylor managed to foul out Groves in Waco, and they will likely need to be just as aggressive attacking the lumbering big. That may be tough if Akinjo is ruled out. Flagler, who had a bounce-back second half earlier this week, has struggled adjusting to the point guard role in Akinjo’s absence. His assist-to-turnover ration will be a key part of this afternoon’s game.
KenPom.com favors the Bears 72-67. Oklahoma is 2-1 at home in conference play with a 79-66 win over Iowa State and a hard fought 67-64 loss to the Jayhawks just this week. Baylor will need to keep the turnovers down and find ways to create space for LJ Cryer and Matthew Mayer in much the way they did on Tuesday. Jeremy Sochan, also a game-time decision with an ankle injury, would be a major addition to the rotation and would open things up on both ends of the floor.
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