The 15-4 Baylor Bears are a road tested team, having already won games at South Carolina, Vanderbilt and TCU. Tuesday night, they go back on the road to take on the 13-6 Oklahoma State Cowboys in Stillwater, OK. The Cowboys have lost three of their last four, but all of those losses have cone on the road. This is a different team at home, and one that has already beaten a Top-15 ranked team in Texas. This game starts a stretch of 5-straight against Top-25 teams with the Bears, Sooners, Longhorns, Jayhawks and Bears again on the schedule for Oklahoma State.
|No. 21 Baylor (15-4, 3-3) vs. Oklahoma State(12-6, 3-3)|
|Date||Tuesday, Jan. 27, 2015| 8:00 p.m. CT|
|Radio||ESPN Central Texas|
|Online Audio||Listen Online|
Fun Stats of the Game
- This is a battle of one of the best offensive rebounding teams (Baylor - 1st in offensive rebounding percfentage ) versus one of the worst (Oklahoma State - 316th in offensive rebounding percentage)
- Le'Bryan Nash is one of the highest used players in college basketball, taking up 31.3% of the OSU possessions (22nd highest rate in the nation) and 30.2% of the shots (91st highest in the nation). No Baylor player is over 26% (Both Taurean Prince and Jonathan Motley are at 25.9%).
Keys to the Game
1. Get out on Forte - Phil Forte is one of the best shooters in the Big 12, with a quick release and a long range, he is a guy that you cannot lose contact with in the Bears zone defense. He has made 50 3-pointers already this year, and converts over 40% of his 3-point shots. Over half of his field goal attempts have been 3-pointers and with his deadly accuracy, is one of the best pure shooters in terms of efficiency in college basketball. With Forte just one of two primary scoring threats (Forte and Le'Byran Nash both average 17 points per game, with no other player over 9), the Bears have to shift the zone to wherever the Cowboys marksman is located.
2. Quiet Gallagher-Iba Arena - Oklahoma State is a perfect 3-0 in Big 12 play at home, with wins over Texas, Kansas State and Texas Tech. While the team may not be as talented as past Travis Ford squads, they feed off the energy of Iba Arena which features one of the best home crowds in the Big 12. Baylor has to get off to a hot start and take the crowd out of it. The Cowboys have won the first 10-minutes of each of their home Big 12 games this season, and are a much better team playing in front. This crowd loves to celebrate a Phil Forte 3-pointer, just like Baylor fans look back fondly of our time with Brady Heslip.
3. Get the Cowboys into Foul Trouble - This is a small Oklahoma State team. They start two sub 6-foot guards and a 6-2 wing player at small forward. Their posts are 6-7 and 6-8, with Le'Bryan Nash getting the bulk of the time at power forward. He can be used as a small forward as well, and plays about 1/3rd of his time at the wing. When he doesn't play there though, the Pokes are small all over the court. Baylor has to take advantage of their size, especially with Royce O'Neale at the small forward position against a man 5 inches shorter than him.
Baylor also has to make sure to attack the paint, and not settle for jumpers over the shorter defender. Both Nash and Michael Cobbins do an okay job of avoiding fouls, as there is not much proven depth behind the two starters. Freshman wing Tavarius Shine and sophomore forward Leyton Hammonds are two of their options off the bench in the post, but neither is tall (Both are 6-7 or shorter) or big (both under 205 pounds). Freshman center Michell Solomon does give them good size off the bench at 6-foot-9, 235 pounds, but at this point in his career, he is a body taking up space.
Getting to the back up posts and putting the weakest point of the Cowboys on the floor (their lack of post depth) would be a massive win for the Bears.
KenPom.com – Oklahoma State wins 62-61 (45% chance for win)
Massey.com – Oklahoma State wins 64-61 (39% chance for win)
RealTime RPI – Oklahoma State wins 73-66
Tim Watkins BearsIllustrated.com Writer– Baylor wins 65-62
I would like to think the Bears can win this game, simply by hanging around and using their experience in close games to lead them to a 2nd straight win and a winning record in Big 12 play for the first time this season. Honestly, this is a game that a team with Big 12 title aspirations NEEDS to win. A road game against a bottom half of the conference team should be a win, most of the time. With the Big 12 as deep as it is this year though, these types of games are harder than ever. With a big game from Royce O'Neale and Rico Gathers, the Bears will get it done and do enough to escape Stillwater with a tough win.