The Bears Look to Stifle the Sooners

The Bears and Sooners face off in a battle of Top-20 teams. With Oklahoma winning the first matchup, the Bears look to even the score and secure a big home win.

The Baylor Bears welcome the Oklahoma Sooners to Waco, TX on Saturday afternoon, looking to get back to their winning ways in Big 12 play. With the Sooners already beating the Bears up in Norman 73-63, the Bears are looking to get one back and defend their homecourt. With a win, the Bears would be 3-3 in Big 12 play, and get their second Top-20 win at home in conference play.

No. 21 Baylor (14-4, 2-2) vs. Oklahoma (12-6, 3-3)
Date Saturday, Jan. 24, 2015| 5:00 p.m. CT
Location Waco. TX. / Ferrell Center (10,284)
Radio ESPN Central Texas
Online Audio Listen Online
Live Stats Gametracker
Twitter @BaylorMBB

Fun Stats of the Game

- This is a matchup of two of the most improved defensive teams in the nation. Oklahoma (91st last year, 5th this year) and Baylor (75th last year and 43rd this year) have both taken big steps forward on that end of the court according to KenPom's defensive efficiency metric.

- Both teams allow under 30% field goal made from behind the arc

- The Sooners have the 24th fastest tempo in the nation, while Baylor ranks 313th.

- Oklahoma has lost three of its last four games including road games at West Virginia and Kansas

Keys to the Game

1. Don't let Hield get hot - The Sooners junior guard is one of the best shooters in the Big 12, and when he is getting good looks, the points come quickly. He is a streaky scorer, a guy that can go on a personal 10-0 run in 2 minutes. The Bears held him to 20 points earlier this year, but 12 of those came in the second half. Hield's shot was not sharp in the earlier game, making just 5-12 shots, but he made 4-three pointers and got to the line 6 times and made all 6. With his ability to stretch the defense, the Bears have to keep contact with Hield and make sure they have their fire extinguishers at the ready.

2. Don't get caught watching the paint dry - Yes, I just quoted Hoosiers. I am not even sorry, as that is one of the greatest movies of all time. Don't hate. The Bears offense can get quite stagnant at times, and it happens when the ball is stuck and the other 4 players are standing their watching what is happening. These moments of inactivity can cause long scoring droughts, the very thing that lost them the game in Norman. Outside of a 5-7 minute span, the Bears outplayed the Sooners barely, but 1 long scoring drought took all of that away. Same thing happened against Kansas State. Royce O'Neale, Kenny Chery, and Lester Medford have to keep the activity up and make sure the ball is moving all around the court, not just being dribbled into the ground and then thrown down low into the post.

3. Win the Paint - Earlier this year, transfer TaShawn Thomas and freshman Jonathan Motley had themselves one heck of a battle, though they rarely were matched up against each other. Both players led their teams in scoring, though they did it in different ways. Motley showed off a much more refined post game than any outside thought he possessed, while Thomas showed off an improved jumper and great instincts around the baseline and elbows (the two weakest spots of the Baylor zone). The Bears will need to defend down low and the paint much better than they did last game. The Sooners displayed excellent passing and patience and got the ball into the areas of the court they wanted, with the right players shooting. Too many uncontested shots were given up.

What Happened Last Time?

Despite 24 points from freshman post Jonathan Motley, the Bears fell to the Sooners 73-63. A close game throughout the entire fact saw the Sooners get some seperation late with a 4-0 run to build a 37-33 halftime lead. With the lead still around 2 points, a 7-minute drought doomed the Bears and put them in a hole they would not recover from. Oklahoma got 24 points from Tashawn Thomas and 20 points from guard Buddy Hield to get the win.

Predictions – Baylor wins 66-65 (56% chance for win) – Baylor wins 66-64 (56% chance for win)

RealTime RPI – Baylor wins 76-70

Tim Watkins Writer– Baylor wins 69-67

The Bears have played some pretty good basketball at home this year, with their only loss being a 1-point one to Kansas. With Royce O'Neale rested, I think he has a big game and gives the Bears the outside scoring punch they struggle to get at times. The Bears will get a double digit lead, and again see a scoring drought put them in jeopardy of losing another heart-breaker, but a big defensive stop and a Rico Gathers rebound will secure a much needed home win.

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