Earlier this season, the Oklahoma Sooners upended the Baylor Bears in Norman, OK. Now the folks from Waco have the opportunity to repay the favor on their own home court. Reaching out to Our Daily Bears, we scored an inside look with one of their writers. Without any further ado, I give you the transcript.
Crimson & Cream Machine - Baylor started the conference portion of the schedule running the gauntlet by facing three ranked opponents in the first four games. Right now, it appears as though the Bears will end the regular season with the same type of stretch. Knowing the Big XII is no joke when it comes to basketball, can BU put together a run with four of the next six games at home?
Our Daily Bears - Can they win four of these next six? Yes. Will they? That remains to be seen. Outside of the conference opener in Norman, every Big 12 game that Baylor has played has either come down to the final possession or overtime. The Bears have been a solid team defensively for most of the season but they continue to be hurt by extended offensive droughts. Baylor had Kansas State cornered last Saturday in Manhattan but had two long stretches without a basket that eventually came back to bite them at the end. If they can limit the offensive lulls, this is a team that can play with anybody in the Big 12, as evidenced by a win over Iowa State and another game with Kansas that Baylor really should have won. The big goal for the program this year is to find a way to get back to the NCAA Tournament as Baylor has never made consecutive trips to the Big Dance. I think the Bears need to find a way to at least go 3-3 in this stretch to feel good about their NCAA chances. 8-10 in this year's Big 12 will probably be enough to get the job done.
CCM - Shooting 36% from beyond the arc, Baylor remains one of the top 3-point shooting teams in the conference. On the other side of the equation, Oklahoma leads the league by holding opponents to 29.6% shooting from three point land. In Waco, something has to give. Is it the Sooner defense of the Bears' shooting?
ODB - The 3 point shot has been extremely hit or miss for the Bears in a lot of games this year. There isn't a Brady Heslip type of guard who can just go off at any time from behind the arc. When they get hot, it seems to be three or four guys who catch fire at the same time. Taurean Prince led the Big 12 for much of the season in 3PT% but he has cooled off a bit of late. In this game, I think a lot will have to do with what Baylor is able to do in the paint. The Bears have made a killing on the offensive glass this season and an offensive rebound tends to often result in a wide open 3 pointer. If Oklahoma can limit guys like Rico Gathers and Johnathan Motley inside, it could affect Baylor's perimeter looks as well.
CCM - Kenny Chery is a name many are familiar with across the Big XII. Who else should Oklahoma fans be aware of on Saturday?
ODB - Taurean Prince has certainly made big strides in his junior season, leading the team at 12.2 points/game while coming off the bench on most nights. Johnathan Motley has had some good games and some bad games as you might expect from a freshman big man. He had one of his best games in the first matchup three weeks ago in Norman. But the guy that I think makes Baylor tick is Royce O'Neale. He is a player that won't wow you with any one specific facet of his game but will consistently stuff the stat sheet with rebounds, assists, steals, etc. If he is fully engaged offensively, he seems to take Baylor to another level. O'Neale struggled in the game in Norman but he has been better in the Ferrell Center than on the road so far this season and it will be interesting to see if that trend keeps up.
CCM - One thing remains certain, the Bears excel on the offensive glass earning multiple shots on a single possession. What is one weakness that Lon Kruger may try to exploit over the weekend?
ODB - There's a reason why Baylor relies on the offensive glass so much: they can't make layups! The Bears have struggled recently with finishing at the rim, both with guards slashing into the paint as well as the big guys posting up down low. If you can't pull the ball in the basket, it's to win at basketball (shocking, I know). If TaShawn Thomas, Ryan Spangler, Khadeem Lattin, etc. can win the battle down low defensively, that hampers Baylor's chances significantly.
CCM - Give us your score prediction.
ODB - I think the matchup favors Oklahoma given the recent success that Lon Kruger's teams have had in attacking the Baylor zone. Also, I'm pretty sure Buddy Hield has taken a few years off of my liver so I wouldn't be shocked to see him go off for 25+ in this game. But something tells me that Baylor will find a way to grind this game out at home. This should be a great game and I won't be shocked if it goes down to the final seconds as well. This is the Big 12 after all.
Baylor 67 Oklahoma 66