Bears Look to Continue Winning Ways

The Baylor Bears go on the road looking to win their 3rd straight Big 12 game and end the Kansas State Wildcats winning streak at 3. What are the keys for a Baylor victory on the road?

The Baylor Bears, fresh off of a 1 point win at home over Iowa State, go on the road to take on Kansas State who is looking to continue their 3-game winning streak Saturday afternoon. After a slow start to the year, Kansas State has found its mojo with wins over TCU, Oklahoma and Texas Tech to start conference play. After two home losses to Texas Southern and Georgia late in the non-conference season and a Big-12 opening loss to Oklahoma State, the Wildcats were a forgotten team in the Big 12. With their defeat of Oklahoma in Norman however, the Wildcats found their spot in the Big 12 rising again.

No. 22 Baylor (13-3, 2-2) at Kansas State (10-7, 3-1)
Date Saturday, Jan. 17, 2015| 2:00 p.m. CT
Location Manhattan, Kan. / Bramlage Coliseum (12,528)
Radio ESPN Central Texas
Online Audio Listen Online
Live Stats Gametracker
Twitter @BaylorMBB

Fun Stats of the Game

- Saturday is the 31st series meeting, and BU trails 14-16 in the all-time series, including 7-9 in the Drew era.

- Baylor is looking for consecutive wins in Manhattan for the 2nd time (Jan. 13, 2001 and Feb. 19, 2003).

- Baylor’s defense has held teams to an average of 12.3 points below their season scoring averages.

- Baylor's last three games have been tied or a 1-point deficit after regulation

- Baylor is just 6-9 against Kansas State in Manhattan and are looking for their 3rd straight win against the Wildcats

- Baylor is 13-1 this season when scoring 60-plus points and 0-2 when being held under 60 points.

- Baylor has held 9 of 16 opponents under 60 points, and the Bears are 81-5 in the Drew era when doing so.

Keys to the Game

1. Force Wildcat Turnovers - The Wildcats are not very careful with the ball, committing a turnover on 22.2% of their possessions. Shooting guard Marcus Foster, center Thomas Gipson and wing Wesley Iwundu all average over 2 turnovers per game. Iwundu turns the ball over over 30% of the possessions he ends. That is an incredibly high number and the Wildcats starting point guard Jevon Thomas is also over 30%. To compare to the Bears, only Ish Wainright is over 30%, while no other Baylor player is over 25%. The Wildcats will turn the ball over, especially against a trapping team. Expect the Bears "surprise" trapping game to show up more than it did against the Cyclones (who do a great job of not turning it over).

2. Defend without Fouling - By far the best aspect of the Wildcat offensive attack is their ability to get to the free throw line. They are an attacking offense that tries to force fouls. Kansas State has shot 87 more free throws than their opposition this year and 72 more than the Bears have as a team. Thomas Gipson is excellent at drawing fouls, having the 49th best fouls drawn per 40 minutes metric in the nation(6.5). However, all of their primary rotation players are solid at getting to the free throw line. 25.6% of their points come from the free throw line, the 13th highest percentage in the nation. The Bears zone defense should allow them to bring easy doubles down to Gipson and they need to make Kansas State make contested shots, not free ones at the line.

3. Attack down low - As we saw in the second half against Iowa State, the Bears like to get the ball down low to Jonathan Motley when he has a size advantage in the paint, especially if they are not going to at least show a double-team. Motley has struggled when facing a double, as he forced several wild shots against Kansas and TCU before doing much better in those situations against Iowa State. Against Kansas State, he is facing another smaller front court, with Thomas Gipson (6-7) and Nino Williams (6-5) being the two primary post players. The Wildcats do bring better height off the bench in Stephen Hurt (6-11) and Malek Harris (6-8) but neither player has played more than 30% of the available minutes.

They ride Gipson and Williams, along with sliding their slender small forward Wesley Iwundu, down to the power forward spot at times. How the Wildcats defend Motley and Ricardo Gathers will dictate how the Bears will attack the defense. If they bring a double team, then the Baylor posts have to make the correct passes out of the paint to get open looks or driving lanes for teammates. If they leave them in single coverage, then the posts have to make them pay and finish over the shorter defenders.

Predictions – Baylor wins 62-58 (67% chance for win) – Baylor wins 64-60 (63% chance for win)

RealTime RPI – Kansas State wins 67-66

Tim Watkins Writer– Baylor wins 61-57

This should be a slow tempo game, with both teams in the 300s in terms of number of possessions according to KenPom. They are two defense first teams, though the Bears have been significantly better this year on that end of the floor than the Wildcats. If the Bears can stop Thomas Gipson from living at the foul line, and not allow guard Marcus Foster to beat them from the perimeter, the Bears should be able to score enough inside over the shorter Wildcats to win this game. To me, it all comes down to if you believe in the Baylor defense to take away Foster and make everyone else beat them. I do, so give me a close Baylor win for their second conference road win of 2015.

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