Bears Look to Finish the Longhorns

Baylor is one of the surprise teams in the Big 12. Texas is another surprise team, but in the bad kind of way. Can the Bears finish the season sweep of Texas and possibly be the final blow to knock the Longhorns out of the NCAA tournament conversation?

The Baylor Bears go on the road for the last time in the Big 12 regular season to take on the Texas Longhorns. The Bears are on a hot-streak, winning their last four games and climbing up the Big 12 standings. Texas is on the other side of the coin, losing their last four and tumbling not only out of the Top-25 polls, but also out of the NCAA tournament and squarely on the bubble. With a possible desperate effort from the Horns coming, Baylor looks to finish off the Texas Longhorns chances of the NCAA and continue their climb up the Big 12 ladder.

No. 19 Baylor (22-7, 10-6) at Texas (17-12, 6-10)
Date March 2, 2015 | 6:00 p.m. CT
Location Austin, Texas | Frank Erwin Center (16,734)
Radio ESPN Central Texas
Online Audio Listen Online
Live Stats Gametracker
Twitter @BaylorMBB

Fun Stats of the Game

-Monday is the 245th all-time series meeting, the most-played rivalry in Baylor history, dating back to 1905-06.

-Baylor is 9-5 in its last 14 games against UT after snapping a 24-game losing streak in the series in 2009.

-Baylor is 32-4 against in-state opponents since 2011-12 and 46-8 against Lone Star State teams since 2009-10.

-Texas faces its fifth consecutive AP Top 25 opponent when it hosts No. 19 Baylor on Monday. This marks the first time in UT history that the Longhorns have played five straight games against AP Top 25 foes. They have lost the previous four.

-Texas is #1 in both block % and 2-point field goal defense in the nation according to KenPom.

Keys to the Game

1. Find Some Energy - Baylor will be playing its 3rd game in 6 days, while Texas will be playing its third in 5 days. Both teams should be pretty worn out, and the last time the Bears found themselves in this position, they lost a home game to Oklahoma State (after beating TCU and West Virginia). The Longhorns should at least get the energy boost from their home crowd, or whatever home crowd actually shows up for the disappointing Horns. With a possible dull crowd and some tired legs, the Bears will need to create their own energy. Energy guys like Ricardo Gathers and Taurean Waller-Prince will have a huge task in front of them. Baylor will need all the energy they can get.

2. Keep the Streaks Going - Both Baylor and Texas are on streaks right now. The Bears have won their last four games, including two over Top-20 teams. They are playing some of the best basketball in the Big 12 right now as the season comes to an end. With just 2 games left, they even have an outside chance of the top-seed in the Big 12 tournament and a share of the regular season title. Texas on the other hand, came in with high expectations, a fully loaded squad that was the surprise of the Big 12 last year and only got better with the addition of one of the best recruits in the nation in Myles Turner. To say that it has not worked out so far for Rick Barnes and company would be accurate. They have fallen flat on their face, and have their second 4-game losing streak of Big 12 play. They are just 6-10 in conference play after being ranked as highly as 6th in the nation. They are a middle of the pack Big 12 squad in terms of offense and defense during conference play. Can the Bears continue their streak and thus, continue the downfall of Texas basketball?

3. Take Advantage of Second Chances - The Bears are the best offensive rebounding team in the nation. The Longhorns are one of the best defensive rebounding teams in the nation. In fact, with all of the struggles UT has had in conference play, their defensive rebounding has not been their downfall. They allow under 30% of an opponents misses to be gathered by the offense, while the Bears rebound over 42% of their own missed shots. The Longhorns have one of the biggest and deepest front lines in all of college basketball with Jonathan Holmes (6-foot-8), Connor Lammert (6-foot-9), Cameron Ridley (6-foot-9), Myles Turner (6-foot-11) and Prince Ibeh (6-foot-10) all getting playing time. They are big, strong and good rebounders. The Bears were able to grab 17 of their 32 misses in the first matchup between these two teams, mainly with Rico Gathers doing his usual brilliant work and Royce O'Neale crashing hard on the weak-side to get some good rebounds as well.

What Happened Last Time?

The Bears blew out the Longhorns 83-60 in one of their most dominant performances of the season. Kenny Chery was brilliant with 23 points, 4 rebounds, 3 steals and 5 assists plus a shaming of Cameron Ridley with a nasty crossover. Baylor had 24 assists on their 30 made baskets as the offense was running smoothly. The Baylor defense held Texas to under 40% shooting and just 5-26 from behind the arc.

Predictions – Texas Wins 63-62 (47% chance for win) – Texas Wins 63-62 (47% chance for win)

RealTime RPI – Texas Wins 70-66

Tim Watkins Writer– Bears win 73-68

Here, I am betting on two things. First, that Baylor will have learned its lesson after the last three-games in 6 days stretch ended with a stinker of a loss at home to Oklahoma State. Secondly, that Baylor is simply playing their best basketball of the year and that Texas is about done. The Longhorns NEED this win badly to keep their NCAA tournament hopes alive. That could make for a desperate team. Simply put, I just don't think Rick Barnes and company have it in them to get the job done.

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