The Bears defense, which had been so solid through the first half of the season, fell back into bad habits in a loss to Colorado, and it will need to tighten things if Baylor is to avoid falling under .500 in Big 12 play.
The Cowboys have fattened their record in the nonconference part of the schedule and scored key victories over Bradley and Utah in a tournament win in Las Vegas. However, with momentum fully on their side, they fell at Oklahoma on Monday.
Baylor's defense, which has been poor for most of coach Scott Drew's reign, has been very good this year. However, the Bears haven't seen a player like James Anderson, the Oklahoma State guard who is leading the conference with 21.7 points a game and has scored in double digits in 29 consecutive games.
Despite the poor performance against the Buffaloes, Saturday is a good opportunity to score a win in a swing game that could help elevate the Bears above the middle of the Big 12 pack.
COLORADO 78, BAYLOR 71: Five Colorado players scored in double figures, and the Buffaloes used a huge second half to upset Baylor.
The Bears (13-2, 1-1 Big 12) led 32-27 at the half and appeared to be in control of their first conference road game. However, that all fell apart after the break. Colorado (10-6, 1-1) shot 50 percent (26 of 52) against the Big 12's best defense. Cory Higgins scored 16 of his 18 points in the second half.
Baylor got 23 points from LaceDarius Dunn, and Ekpe Udoh had 14 points and 14 rebounds.
--The most dominant streak between Big 12 rivals is over. And how.
Baylor had lost 30 straight against Oklahoma dating to a 1977 game in Norman. As for beating the Sooners in Waco, it had not been done since 1954.
Finally, the Bears buried the long skid, blasting the Sooners 91-60 in their Big 12 opener.
"This was one of the last thorns we needed to get out of our side," Baylor coach Scott Drew said. "This was also for our fans who have seen us lose in just about any and every fashion to Oklahoma."
The outcome may have reflected an unexpected tradeoff in the South Division. Oklahoma figured to recover nicely from the loss of national player of the year Blake Griffin, while Baylor was expected to struggle after losing some influential starters.
Few predicted the impact Michigan transfer Ekpe Udoh would have on the Bears. The 6-foot-10 forward, who happens to be from Edmond, Okla., has made the biggest impact of any newcomer in the league and showed it again with 14 points, eight rebounds and seven blocks against Oklahoma.
"Ekpe makes a huge difference," Oklahoma coach Jeff Capel said. "He's a guy who protects the basket, and his presence is felt if he doesn't block the shot because you're always looking for him and how many shots he is changing during the game."
--Oklahoma shot lights out to begin the Big 12 opener on Jan. 9. Literally. A bank of lights near the rafters in the Ferrell Center went out in the first half, causing a delay with the Sooners leading 16-9. When play resumed, Oklahoma boosted its lead to 20-11 before Baylor took control, closing the half with a 30-6 flurry and rolling to a 91-60 win.
--Baylor could be content using a small rotation. Although the Bears routed Oklahoma, just seven players logged more than two minutes. F Quincy Acy is more apt to see extended minutes inside as a reserve than C Josh Lomers, a starter.
ON THE SPOT: Tuesday's second half was the first show of real concern for Baylor's defense. The "D" has improved immensely this year, but the Buffaloes shot 61.5 percent from the field after halftime.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "This is probably the best we've played to this point. But I think we've shown great balance all year and that includes the way we've played on the defensive end. For a lot of people who don't follow us regularly, I think they can see we've come a long way." -- Baylor coach Scott Drew, following the win against Oklahoma.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
SEASON RECAP: The impression made by Baylor has not been something achieved exclusively at home. The Bears sent a message to the rest of the Big 12 with back-to-back road wins in the SEC at Arkansas and at South Carolina. By opening with a decisive 31-point romp against Oklahoma, the Bears look for real, with strength at all positions thanks to the addition of F Ekpe Udoh, a Michigan transfer who's been a force at both ends.
PLAYER ROTATION: Usual Starters -- F Ekpe Udoh, F Anthony Jones, C Josh Lomers, G LaceDarius Dunn, G Tweety Carter. Key Subs -- F Quincy Acy, G A.J. Walton.
Baylor 85, South Carolina 74
Baylor 79, Morgan State 63
Baylor 91, Oklahoma 60
Colorado 78, Baylor 71
vs. Oklahoma State, Saturday, Jan. 16.
at Kansas, Wednesday, Jan. 20.
vs. Massachusetts, Saturday, Jan. 23.
vs. Kansas State, Tuesday, Jan. 26.
IN FOCUS: Baylor cannot afford to get overconfident from its blowout win against Oklahoma. Containing Oklahoma State deadeye James Anderson will be a challenge.
--F Ekpe Udoh added two more blocks to push his conference-leading mark to 68. Colorado has 41 on the year as a team.
--G LaceDarius Dunn, Udoh and G Tweety Carter have combined to average 46.3 points over the past 10 games, nine of them wins.
--C Josh Lomers will never be a primary offensive weapon, but he had 10 points Tuesday, his fourth double-digit scoring night of the season. He had seven in his previous three years combined.