(25) Oklahoma (13-4) at (12) Baylor (13-3)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, January 18, 2 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Ferrell Center (10,284) -- Waco, Texas. Television: ESPN. Home Record: Oklahoma 8-2, Baylor 9-0. Away Record: Oklahoma 1-1, Baylor 0-2. Neutral Record: Oklahoma 4-1, Baylor 4-1. Conference Record: Oklahoma 2-2, Baylor 1-2. Series Record: Oklahoma leads, 39-10.
GAME NOTES: Ranked rivals in the Big 12 Conference get together on Saturday afternoon, as No. 25 Oklahoma battles No. 12 Baylor.
Oklahoma has quietly gone about its business this season, going 13-4 and recently ascending into the national polls. Unfortunately for the Sooners, their stay in the Top-25 may be short-lived as they dropped a 72-66 decision at Kansas State earlier this week, and they've lost two of their last three to wind up at an even 2-2 in conference.
Baylor has had the same results as Oklahoma in its last three games, and it is coming off an 82-72 loss at Texas Tech. The Bears' other Big 12 defeat took place at Iowa State on Jan. 7, leaving them at 1-2 in conference play as they stare down a tough stretch of games that will see the squad battle the likes of Kansas and Texas in its next two outings. BU is 9-0 at home this season, and the team has won 13 straight at the Ferrell Center overall.
Oklahoma has controlled the series with Baylor over the years, winning 39 of the previous 49 meetings. The Sooners won both encounters last season, and they are 17-5 all-time in Waco.
Putting points on the scoreboard hasn't been an issue for Oklahoma this season, as the team is among the national leaders in netting 85.8 ppg behind typical shooting efforts of .454 overall and .379 from 3-point range. Defensively, the Sooners have been far too lax in yielding 78.8 ppg, but they are in the black in both rebounding (+2.4) and turnover (+1.9) margins. Cameron Clark paces the unit with his 17.3 ppg, while Buddy Hield is hot on his heels with 16.5 ppg. Three others produce double figures as well, including Ryan Spangler who is close to averaging a double-double with 11.5 points and 9.5 rebounds per game.
Spangler tallied 21 points and 14 boards, but that effort was wasted as the Sooners dropped a six-point decision at Kansas State four days ago. Hield added a dozen points for Oklahoma, which hit only a third of its field goal attempts, including a 7-of-23 showing from 3-point range. The Wildcats nailed 11 treys in the contest, and won the game despite being outscored in the paint (26-14), off turnovers (27-8), in second-chance points (19-5) and in bench points (19-13).
Baylor too has had very little trouble generating offense this season, as the team scores 78.6 ppg thanks to a 48.5 percent shooting effort, which includes an even 40 percent showing from beyond the arc. From a defensive standpoint, the Bears are giving up 66.9 ppg, and they hold a double-digit lead in rebounding differential (+10.2). They do however, commit more turnovers than the opposition (-2.2 margin). Cory Jefferson (13.2 ppg, 8.4 rpg) heads a list of four double-digit scorers, and he paces the team's effort on the glass as well. Kenny Chery has had a stellar campaign too, netting 11.6 ppg while handing out 5.1 apg. Brady Heslip in the team's top long-range sniper (11.1 ppg, .468 3-point FG percentage).
Chery hit for a game-high 22 points, while reserves Taurean Prince and Rico Gathers chipped in 13 and 11 points, respectively, for the Bears who lost at Iowa State the last time out. Baylor shot just 41.3 percent from the floor, missing the mark on 80 percent of its long-range tries (4-of-20). The Bears took very care of the basketball with only five turnovers, but they were outrebounded (35-29) and outscored at the foul line (21-16).
Expect both teams to put their best foot forward in an effort to get back into the win column and keep pace in the race for the Big 12 title. The Bears get the nod playing at home, but it's not going to be easy.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Baylor 75, Oklahoma 72
01/18 10:16:44 ET