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Baylor MBB vs Oklahoma: Three Stats that Will Decide the Game

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How can an excellent shooting team be below average in points per game? Turnovers!

Back from a successful road trip to Ames, the #1 ranked Baylor Men’s Basketball team (13-0, 1-0 Big 12) hosts the unranked Oklahoma Sooners (11-2, 1-0 Big 12). The Sooners beat Kansas State last Saturday with three players, including their leading scorer, sitting out due to Covid. It’s unknown whether they will be back for tonight’s game. Either way, here are the three stats to keep an eye on during the game!

Two Point Defense

Oklahoma is elite at scoring inside the arc. They make an incredible 61% of their two point field goal attempts (2nd in the country), but they also shoot a fair number of threes (42% of their shots, 102nd in the country).

Baylor needs to play smart help defense inside, avoid fouling (which shouldn’t be too hard, Oklahoma ranks 276th in foul rate), and still not leave three point shooters wide open at the perimeter. The Bears can do it — they hold opponents to 5 percentage points worse shooting inside (95th in the country), 4 percentage points worse shooting from three (73rd in the country), and 2 percentage points lower free throw rate (161st in the country) — but it won’t be easy.

Rebounding Differential

Rebounding should be an interesting matchup for both teams. When Baylor has they ball, they collect 37% of available offensive rebounds (11th in the country), but Oklahoma makes teams 8 percentage points worse on the offensive glass (18th in the country).

When Oklahoma has the ball, they recover a paltry 23% of offensive boards (294th in the country), but Baylor only holds teams to a 2 percentage point worse offensive rebounding rate (185th in the country).

The Bears should have the advantage on both offensive and defensive rebounds, but it will be strength against strength and, shall I say, development area against development area.

Turnovers

Baylor lost the turnover battle against Iowa State to open conference play; I don’t expect that to happen again against Oklahoma. The Sooners are alarmingly bad at protecting the ball, and they turn it over on 20% of their possessions (281st in the country).

The Bears, as we all know, are excellent at stealing the ball and frustrating offenses so much they try to pass the ball to their coach. Baylor causes teams to turn the ball over 7 percentage points more than they do against other opponents (10th in the country). It doesn’t matter how well Oklahoma can shoot the ball if they never have the opportunity to.

KenPom prediction: Baylor 76, Oklahoma 63