Baylor (17-12) at Texas (13-16)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Monday, March 4, 9 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Frank Erwin Center (16,540) -- Austin, Texas. Television: ESPN. Home Record: Baylor 11-5, Texas 11-4. Away Record: Baylor 4-6, Texas 1-8. Neutral Record: Baylor 2-1, Texas 1-4. Conference Record: Baylor 8-8, Texas 5-11. Series Record: Texas leads, 157-82.
GAME NOTES: The Texas Longhorns will play their final game at the Frank Erwin Center this season as they host the Baylor Bears in a Big 12 Conference bout.
These squads squared off on Jan. 5 at Baylor. The Bears won the first meeting, 86-79, in an overtime thriller as Cory Jefferson registered a double-double of 25 points and 10 rebounds to lead the way. Javon Felix nearly registered a double-double with 26 points and nine assists for Texas, which shot 44.6 percent from the floor in the game. Despite the loss, the Longhorns own a 157-82 all-time series lead. This is the longest standing rivalry for both schools.
Scott Drew's Bears have some work to do if they hope to return to the Big Dance this season as they enter with a 17-12 overall record after dropping a 64-61 decision to Kansas State on Saturday. The loss was the fourth in five games for Baylor, which is sitting at 8-8 in league play. The Bears will conclude their regular season at home on Saturday when they host the conference-leading Kansas Jayhawks.
Baylor played the No. 13 Wildcats close to the very end in its last appearance before KSU's Rodney McGruder ended the game with a buzzer-beating 3-pointer. Senior point guard Pierre Jackson had a strong showing for the Bears with a team-high 18 points to go along with seven assists, while Jefferson (14 points, eight rebounds) and freshman center Isaiah Austin (11 points, 12 rebounds, three blocks) made their mark up front. The always dangerous Brady Heslip sank a trio of 3-pointers en route to 10 points for Baylor, which was held just under 40 percent shooting from the field and committed 15 turnovers.
Jackson has consistently been the leader this season to produce 19 points and 6.4 assists per tilt, while Austin has put himself on the radar of NBA scouts with 13.6 points, 9.0 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per tilt. The Bears have the 33rd highest scoring offense average in the nation at 74.4 ppg, and they are decent on the defensive end with only 65.6 points allowed per tilt.
Rick Barnes's Longhorns have shown improvement since star sophomore guard Myck Kabongo returned to the lineup six games ago. Texas is 3-3 since his return with all three losses coming to ranked foes. Kabongo was limited to 2-of-7 shooting from the field and committed seven turnovers on Saturday when the team fell, 78-65, to the extremely talented Oklahoma State Sooners in Stillwater. After hosting Baylor, Texas will conclude its regular season at Texas Tech on Saturday.
Kabongo was not the only Longhorn to struggle versus OSU as none of the starting five reached double figures in the scoring column. Julien Lewis and Javan Felix scored 15 and 13 points, respectively, off the bench in the setback. Sheldon McClellan, who is the team's second leading scorer behind Kabongo with 13.3 ppg, only played seven minutes against the Cowboys. The Longhorns are clearly not the power they once were as they have been outscored by a slight average margin of 0.3 ppg this season.
This contest means much more to Baylor than it does the hosts, as the Bears are still hopeful to earn an at-large bid to the upcoming NCAA Tournament. Texas will provide Baylor with a very tough obstacle as it has no pressure on it but enough talent to get the job done.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Texas 68, Baylor 66
03/04 10:33:21 ET