Baylor (23-10) vs. Texas (23-9)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Friday, March 14, 9:30 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Sprint Center (18,927) -- Kansas City, Missouri. Television: Big 12 Network, ESPN U. Home Record: Baylor 13-4, Texas 16-2. Away Record: Baylor 4-5, Texas 5-6. Neutral Record: Baylor 6-1, Texas 2-1. Conference Record: Baylor 9-9, Texas 11-7. Series Record: Texas leads, 159-82.
GAME NOTES: The semifinal round of the Big 12 Conference Tournament wraps up on Friday night at the Sprint Center, as the seventh-seeded Baylor Bears take on the third-seeded Texas Longhorns.
The winner moves on to Saturday's championship bout to play either Iowa State or Kansas.
The Longhorns defeated the Bears twice in the regular season, most recently winning in Austin on Feb. 26, 74-69. Texas leads Baylor 159-82 all-time in each team's longest running rivalry.
Baylor's (23-10) tournament experience began with a 76-68 victory over last- place TCU in the first round on Wednesday and it followed that performance up with an upset victory over No. 2 seed Oklahoma, 78-73, for its fifth straight win dating back to the regular season. The Bears took control of the contest early, opening up a commanding 16-point lead at intermission, and while the Sooners battled back to make it a one-possession game in the final minute they could not complete the comeback. All five starters scored in double figures in the winning effort, paced by 18 points from Isaiah Austin, who also blocked five shots for the second consecutive day. Cory Jefferson (14 points, 11 rebounds) and Royce O'Neale (12 points, 10 rebounds) both registered double- doubles, Kenny Chery tallied 12 points and seven assists and Brady Heslip scored 12 as well.
BU has shown great balance on both ends of the court this season, scoring 75.2 ppg while allowing just 68.2 ppg. Jefferson (13.6 ppg, 8.3 rpg) and Austin (11.1 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 3.2 bpg) are an imposing duo in the frontcourt, Chery scores 11.5 and dishes out 5.0 apg and Heslip (11.4 ppg) has knocked down 102 3-pointers at a lofty 46.4 percent clip.
Although Texas (23-9) had been losers of four of six to close out the regular season, it turned things around in the quarterfinals with an convincing 66-49 victory over West Virginia. The squad outshot WVU from the field, 48.9 percent to 30.3 percent, as it opened up a commanding 19-point halftime lead before cruising to the win from there. Jonathan Holmes was nearly flawless on his way to a game-high 20 points, shooting 7-of-8 from the field and 4-of-4 at the free-throw line. Javan Felix made 4-of-8 from 3-point range en route to 16 points to go with six assists.
The Longhorns are in a similar mold as Baylor with solid performances this season on both the offensive (.432 FG, 74.3 ppg) and defensive (69.5 ppg, .397) ends of the court. Their strength comes in the frontcourt, where Holmes (13.2 ppg, 7.3 rpg, 1.3 bpg) and Ridley (11.3 ppg, 8.1 rpg, 2.2 bpg) comprise a strong twosome in the paint. Isaiah Taylor (12.3 ppg, 3.8 apg) and Felix (12.1 ppg, 2.9 apg) are both solid on the perimeter but neither shoot greater than 39 percent from the field.
These teams are very well matched in terms of personnel and on-court production and should be in for a close matchup from start to finish. However, while Texas may have had Baylor's number during the regular season, the Bears have shown explosion on the offensive end of late, which should lift them to a victory and a spot in the championship game.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Baylor 73, Texas 68
03/14 10:30:54 ET
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