Baylor vs. Texas Preview

In the Big 12 opener, the Baylor Bears host the Texas Longhorns with both teams looking to get the 2nd part of their season off to a great start.

The Baylor Bears, fresh off a frustrating non-conference season welcome in one of the few Big 12 teams that might have had a more disappointing start to their 2012-2013 campaign. The Texas Longhorns come into Waco at 8-5. The longhorns got off to an abysmal start to the year, with two terrible losses to Chaminade and USC. However, the rest of their losses are to really good teams in Georgetown, UCLA and Michigan State. They are 3-1 in their last four games, with wins over Texas State, Rice and a stunning dominant win over North Carolina. The UNC game is by far their best performance of the season, a game that they truly dominated on both sides of the ball.

2012-2013

Baylor

Texas

Sagarin

32

92

KenPom

28

57

Massey

37

120

TeamRanking.com

46

90

AP Poll

N/A

N/A

Coaches Poll

N/A

N/A

Texas is used to being really good on one side of the court this year, but not the other. They are good to possibly great defensive team that struggles terribly on offense. Their defense is as good as any in the country. They are second in the nation in defensive efficiency according to TeamRankings and feature the #1 ranked defense against 3-point shooters according to KenPom. They are 5th against two-point shots. This is a phenomenal defense.

They have two interchangeable wing players in Sheldon McClellan and Julien Lewis, their two leading scorers. Lewis, a 6-3 shooting guard is their best 3-point shooter. McClellan has stepped into the leadership role this year and is their best all-around player right now. He is a big bodied guard at 6-4 and 200 pounds. He takes a high percentage of their shots and will take them from all over the floor, though he is very good at getting into the paint and drawing fouls. He has the 52nd highest rates of fouls drawn per 40 minutes in the nation.

NCAA Basketball

The Longhorns as a whole do a great job of getting to the foul line, by far their best attribute as an offense. They get 24.1% of their points from free throws, the 32nd highest rate in the country. While their guards do a great job of not commiting fouls, you cannot say the same thing about their post players. McClellan only gets called for 1.4 fouls per 40 minutes, the 37th best rate in the country. However, their main post players of Jonathan Holmes (5.3 fouls per 40 minutes), Ioannis Papapetrou (5.3), Cameron Ridley (4.6) and Connor Lammert (4.6) all are pretty bad at fouling.

NCAA Basketball Stats

Keys to the Game:

-No easy points for the Longhorns – Again, this is a bad offensive team. They do not shoot the ball well at all, from anywhere on the court. So far this year, they are shooting 39.6% from the field (278th in nation) and amking just 31.6% of their three-pointers (239th). Their advanced statistical shooting is even worse with their Effective Field Goal shooting at 44.2% (297th) and their True Shooting at 96.6% (282nd). Compare that to the Bears with 54% (26th) and 113% (30th). Baylor cannot allow Texas to get easy buckets in transition. They have to make them work a half-court set, something that UT has just completely failed to do consistently. Even if the Bears turn it over, just keep it to dead ball turnovers, and not ones that allow UT to run and get easy buckets.

-Dominate the point guard spot – Look, the Bears have one huge advantage in this game and that is at the point guard position. With Myck Kabongo suspended for the first part of the year, they are without their star point guard and are relying on freshman Javan Felix to play a huge role for this team. Felix averages 35.7 minutes per game, and is their only real point guard. He is a good passer and someone that can defend well and will hit open shots when given the chance.

However, he is a freshman who is prone to freshman mistakes, and he is no matchup for Pierre Jackson. The Preseason Big 12 player of the year has to impose his will on this game, and attack the weakness of the Longhorns and get to that foul prone front-line that Texas has.

-Stay aggressive and get to the foul line – Against Gonzaga, the Bears let a golden opportunity slip through their grasp, as they had the Zags in major foul trouble and one foul away from the bonus in the first half with over 14 minutes to go. Baylor would not draw another foul that half. Against Texas, they are running into a team that likes to foul, especially in the post. The Baylor post players have not shown any ability to be able to draw fouls. In fact Isaiah Austin and Cory Jefferson are abysmal in that aspect of their game, combining to draw 7.4 fouls per 80 minutes. Rico Gathers has been slightly better (4.2 per 40 minutes) but he is still barely average.

Texas has three players that draw more than 5 fouls per forty minutes while Baylor only has one in Pierre Jackson. Texas is one of the best shot blocking teams in the country. If the Bears go up weak looking to finish versus draw contact and get to the line, they will see a lot of shots knocked back in their face. Austin and Jefferson have to try and draw contact against the more physical Longhorn defenders and avoid their four shot blockers in Ridley, Ibeh, Papapetrou and Holmes (average a combined 5.3 blocks per game). Ridley leads the way with 2.1 blocks per game.

Predictions:

KenPom – Bears win 68-61 (74% chance for win)

Massey – Bears win 72-60 (88% chance for win)

TeamRanking – Bears win 74.1-64.6 (82.9% chance for win)

BearsIllustrated – Bears win 71-58

I see the Bears advantage at the point guard position causing a ton of problems for Texas, as Pierre attacks Felix time and time again and gets into the paint where he creates for himself, gets fouled, or kicks out to open shooters. The Bears offense is just too much for UT, and they open up a big lead before UT makes it look more respectable late in the game.

This is truly strength versus strength, with the Bears offense going up against the Longhorn defense. UT will be able to slow Baylor down a bit, but the Baylor defense will be significantly better than the Texas offense and get the Bears off to a great start in conference play.

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