The Oklahoma Sooners will enter this afternoon tied for fourth in the conference while coming off a win against the Texas Tech Red Raiders. The opponent, the Baylor Bears, currently sit at 7-6 in conference and pose a great threat to Lon Kruger and his squad.
After starting conference play on a 5-1 hot streak, the Bears have gone 2-5 since. The only road wins Baylor currently has over conference foes have come against Texas Tech as well as the TCU Horned Frogs. So what makes them so dangerous?
The Sooners have gotten themselves in a bit of trouble when their opponent finds some sort of rhythm from behind the arc. Case in point, the Iowa St. Cyclones handed Oklahoma one of their worst losses on the season after catching fire from behind the arc. However, it is Baylor's Pierre Jackson hitting at a 36% three-point conversion rate. Losing a player of his caliber coming off a screen could pay dividends for the opposition on the scoreboard. Of course, this time the Sooners will be without the vocal leadership of one Buddy Hield and will rely on two other freshmen to get this job done.
Watching the past few games, Scott Drew would be wise to have his Bears pressure Oklahoma in the backcourt, hoping to create turnovers and points off of those. The Sooners have proven to be susceptible to the pressure as young freshman are given the ball handling duties. The Achilles' Heel of Lon Kruger's current squad has been exposed and from here on out, it will most likely be exploited.
The other major piece of that Baylor Bears has comes by way of Isaiah Austin. The 7-foot freshman posted 19 points the last time these two teams met. Since then, he has been in a bit of slump. Austin has gone from shooting at a high percentage to just 34.3% over the last six games. Although he has recorded nine double-doubles this season, the slump has been a major factor as to why the Bears are 2-5 in the last seven games.
The Sooners will need to crash the boards as they were outrebounded 47-34 in Waco. It will be tough to squeak out another win with that type of performance in Norman. There is no question that the key components in this game for Oklahoma will be Romero Osby and Amath M'Baye. This duo is currently averaging 30.4 points while shooting 54.7% from the field in conference wins. Combine them with the output from the bench and I like OU's chances.
Game will tip off at 4:05 PM CST and will be televised on ESPNU for those lucky enough to receive the channel!