The Baylor Bears come home to host the West Virginia Mountaineers in a game of two ranked teams on 3-game winning streaks. The Bears are fresh off their biggest road win in years, an impressive 9-point win against Iowa State. The Mountaineers have wins over Kansas, Oklahoma State and Texas since they hit a lull in conference play with 3 losses in 4 games. With WVU just a game behind Kansas for the Big 12 lead, they have a ton to play for before taking their own trip to Kansas on Tuesday night.
|No. 19 Baylor (21-7, 9-6) vs. No. 20 West Virginia (22-6, 10-5)|
|Date||Feb. 28, 2015 | 3:00 p.m. CT|
|Location||Waco, Texas | Ferrell Center (10,284)|
|Radio||ESPN Central Texas|
|Online Audio||Listen Online|
Fun Stats of the Game
-Saturday is the 7th series meeting, all of which have come since 2011. BU?leads 5-1, including a 1-1 mark in?Waco.
-Baylor is looking to win back-to-back games against ranked teams for the first time in program history.
-Baylor is the only team to win in?Morgantown in each of the last 3 seasons.
-Baylor has won 18 of its last 20 home games, with losses to No. 12 Kansas (1 pt) and No. 21 Oklahoma State?(9 pts).
Keys to the Game
1. Maintain that Edge - The last time the Bears had a big road win, they came home and laid an egg against Oklahoma State. Of course, that big road win was over these same Mountaineers, but the point still stands. The Bears, fresh off of that win did not play a very good game. They lost a bit of focus and got beat by a hot shooting team. The Mountaineers are not a good shooting team at all, in fact they rank just 288th in effective field goal shooting percentage. They get their points by forcing live-ball turnovers and easy buckets in transition. Baylor will have to keep that edge that they found in Ames, IA and make sure to come out with the same intensity they did in Morgantown.
2. Stop them in the Halfcourt - As stated above, the Mountaineers are not a good shooting team. They rank in the bottom half of the NCAA in 2-point field goal shooting (245th), 3-point field goal shooting (291st), and free throw shooting (286th). Those numbers INCLUDE all of the easy transition buckets they get due to their extreme press. Take those easy shots out of the equation and this might be one of the worst offensive teams in the nation. As a halfcourt offense, they struggle to get things going. That also happens to be the strength of the Baylor defense, as when their zone gets set, they are one of the best defensive teams in the nation. In a battle of half court teams, the Bears should win this game handily.
3. Keep the Tempo Fast, but not Frantic - We saw this against WVU earlier in the year play out. You want to run on press teams, right back at them and keep the pressure on. However, if you go too fast, more into the frantic mindset, that is when the opposition gets that edge back. With two point guards in Kenny Chery and Lester Medford along with a very good ball handler and passer in Royce O'Neale, the Bears are setup to not only break the WVU press, but to beat it for transition buckets. Baylor has to run back at the Mountaineers at a speed they are comfortable with, but not break into that frenetic pace that WVU wants.
What Happened Last Time?
The Bears ran around, through and over West Virginia in a blowout 87-69 win in Morgantown. Baylor started the game off on a 21-3 run and never really let up. They were led by a balanced scoring effort, with Ricardo Gathers leading 5 Bears in double figures.
KenPom.com – Baylor Wins 72-65 (76% chance for win)
Massey.com – Baylor Wins 71-64 (74% chance for win)
RealTime RPI – Baylor Wins 75-62
Tim Watkins BearsIllustrated.com Writer– Baylor Wins 71-64
With their effort three weeks ago against West Virginia, the Bears should have a ton of confidence going into this game. They not only solved the WVU press, but they destroyed it time and time again. Will Coach Huggins make some adjustments for this game? Will the Mountaineers come out with the needed energy and effort to win this game? Both of these two teams are on 3-game winning streaks, and both are holding out hope for at least a share of a Big-12 title. Give me the Bears at home, once again solving the zone and hitting big shots in transition.