The Baylor Bears Host Top-Ranked Oklahoma Sooners Saturday Morning

The Baylor Bears host top-ranked Oklahoma Saturday morning. Featuring National Player of the Year candidate Buddy Hield, the Sooners are looking to bounce back from an upset loss against Iowa State earlier this week.

The Baylor Bears will have an opportunity to further establish themselves at the top of the Big 12, as top-ranked Oklahoma comes to visit.  Baylor leads the Big 12 witha  4-1 record, while Oklahoma, Kansas and West Virginia trail at 4-2. 

Led by senior star Buddy Hield, the Sooners gained the top-spot in the nation earlier this week.  After a loss to Iowa State on the road, they will more than likely fall from that perch next week, but for now they are the top-ranked team in the nation. 


No. 13/15 Baylor (14-3, 4-1) vs. No 1/1 Oklahoma (15-2, 4-2)


Jan. 23, 2016 | 11:00 a.m. CT


Waco, Texas | Ferrell Center (10,284)




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1. Get OU Bigs into Foul Trouble - As Luke Winn pointed out in his always entertianing Power Rankings column, the Sooners are a very different team when the duo of Ryan Spangler and Khadeem Lattin are on the floor versus off of it.  The duo is plus-41 for every 100 possessions they play together versus against, a ridiculous statistic. They are both low usage players offensively, but are by far their best rebounders. Lattin is also one of the better rim-protectors in the Big 12. However, the duo is excellent at playing defense without fouling.  Spangler averages 2.2 fouls per 40 minutes, a ridiculous total for a post man. He does this while playing 81% of available minutes.   Lattin is an above average 5.1 and plays a more average 55% of minutes.  Their only other reliable post man is freshman 6-foot-7 forward Dante Buford, who averages 3 points and 2 rebounds a game in 10 minutes per game.  

The Sooners have quite a bit of depth at the guard and wing spots, but lack that same depth in the post.  Spangler will slide to center when Buford comes in, but that leaves them without any rim protection. With the Bears depth in the paint, and ability to force the action down low off of post ups and offensive rebounds, getting Lattin or Spangler in foul trouble is a big way to seperate the dynamic duo and get to the Sooners bench. 

2.  The Buddy Hield Show - One of the best players in college basketball, Hield has taken a quantum leap forward this year after being an All-Big 12 caliber player the past two years.  He has slowly turned himself into one of the best pure shooters in the game after coming to Norman as primarily a scorer and playmaker.  His true shooting percentage has improved almost 22 points since his freshman campaign (46.7, 56.8, 54.5, 68.2). With a dynamic threat such as this, the Bears defense will have to make a tough choice.  Do you double him and make it very difficult for him to get his in the Bears zone or even man defense or do you play him straight up. 

If you double Hield, he is a capable enough of a passer to find the open man and get his teammates involved.  If you play him straight up, he will take over the game, but it will limit everyone else to a smaller role.  Which is better?  I have no idea.  The Sooners have capable scorers in Jordan Woodard, Isaiah Cousins and Ryan Spangler.  They can all spread the floor, with each shooting over 37% from 3-point range.  Hield is shooting a blistering 51.5% from 3-point range (70-136!) while Jordan Woodard has been even better hitting 53.2%.  To put that into perspective, Brady Heslip was a career 43.7% shooter, making 46.5% in his senior year.  Hield has a chance to smash that mark.

He is not just a shooter though, as he has retained his ability to get to the rim and finish through contact. Take a look at his shot chart this year.

He is not taking any mid-range shots, but is getting to the basket and finishing at an above average rate for any player, which is a good rate for a guard.  Simply put, Buddy Hield is the most dangerous scorer in college basketball right now, averaging 26 points per game.  Whichever defensive strategy the Bears pick, it is probably just best to pray that he isn't on fire and hope he misses more than he makes. 

3.  Play with Passion - In their double overtime win over Kansas State, the Bears came out flat in the first half.  There was little movement on offense, and the defense was stationary and reactive.  That cannot happen against Oklahoma if the Bears want to win their 6th straight Big 12 game.  When the Bears are feeding off of their defensive energy, their offense becomes lethal.  Taurean Prince is a game changer on both sides of the court when fully engaged.  With a top-tier opponent, the team will have plenty of reasons to be fully involved.  Passion will also need to come from the fans.  The Bears need, and deserve, a capacity crowd Saturday morning. They need the fans setting a tone for the game, for the opposition, and even for the refs. 


The Sooners and Bears played two times in the first 7-conference games, so they have not seen each other for over a year.  The last game was Oklahoma's visit to Waco, that ended in a 69-58 victory for Baylor.  The Bears used a late 10-0 run to build a 7-point lead with 4 minutes to go.  Lester Medford led the Bears with 17 points, and 4 Bears scored in double figures.  Buddy Hield was held to just 6-17 shooting and a team high 12-points.  He was 0-7 on 3-pointers. 

PREDICTIONS – Baylor loses 76-75 (48% chance for win) – Baylor loses 78-76 (47% chance for win)

Tim Watkins, - Baylor wins 72-71

This is a coin flip game in the eyes of the computers.  My heard says win, and my head says loss.  In the Bears victory last year, Buddy Hield went 0-7 from behind the arc.  I doubt that will happen again, but they cannot let him get on a hot streak.  He has not shot well for long spurts in Waco, so the Bears will need some continued luck there.  Give me a close win, that is secured on some late Lester Medford free throws. 

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