The Bears will try to keep alive their hopes of a second-place finish in the Big 12 and a possible top-four seed in the NCAA tournament when they play at Oklahoma State on Saturday.
Gallagher-Iba Arena isn't quite as fierce a road trip as it has been in the past, but the Cowboys will still be plenty tough. Baylor won the first meeting between the two, 83-70, on Jan. 16 as LaceDarius Dunn led four scorers in double digits with 25 points to go along with eight rebounds.
However, Baylor is just 2-22 all-time in Stillwater, Okla., and has lost in its last six trips there.
BAYLOR 88, TEXAS TECH 70: The Bears pulled away in the second half to turn a close game into a blowout. Baylor (20-5, 7-4 Big 12) led only 35-30 at halftime, but that was before LaceDarius Dunn heated up. He scored 30 points on 9-of-13 shooting, including 4-of-7 from behind the three-point line.
--After taking over a program rocked by turmoil and stripped of nonconference games one season among sanctions imposed by the NCAA, Scott Drew has rebuilt Baylor basketball.
One look at his record reflects both the turnaround, as well as the hardships endured.
He stood at an even 100-100 going into this week, balancing the mark with a thrilling 64-62 victory Feb. 13 against Missouri, which forward Ekpe Udoh sealed by tipping in a shot with 1.3 seconds remaining.
"That's why coaches go bald, but that's why fans can cherish this year in the Big 12," said Drew, who, in his seventh season, has the Bears in position to claim a first-round bye in the conference tournament at 19-5 overall and 6-4 in the Big 12.
Baylor fans cherish this particular team. It's different from others Drew has directed. The Bears play defense, contest shots and exert more patience on offense. Missouri is among the nation's leaders at generating turnovers, yet Baylor only gave the ball away 13 times.
The biggest difference for the Bears continues to be Udoh. The Michigan transfer provides a tremendous defensive presence because of his ability to block and alter shots. He pushed his school-record total for blocks to 100 by swatting three against the Tigers, while also snagging 10 rebounds.
"Ekpe's special," guard Tweety Carter told the Waco Tribune-Herald. "Throughout the game, he didn't score (six points) the way he wanted to, but he stayed with it and played defense and didn't get frustrated."
--Baylor led the Big 12 in rebounding margin (plus-8.1) and blocked shots (7.3) and was second in field goal percentage (.486) and field goal percentage defense (.373) going into this week. Baylor has never led the conference in any of those statistical categories.
--G LaceDarius Dunn had a brief exchange with Nebraska coach Doc Sadler while walking off the court after the first half of the Bears' win in Lincoln on Feb. 10. "It wasn't anything," Sadler said. "He wasn't being disrespectful."
ON THE SPOT: Tuesday's win gave Baylor 20 wins for the sixth time in school history. This is the first time the Bears have won 20 or more in three straight seasons.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "Some teams fold and other teams persevere and fight back. Our leadership and upperclassmen made sure we didn't give up (against Missouri)." -- Baylor coach Scott Drew.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
SEASON RECAP: Three of the last four wins for Baylor had been by margins of three points or fewer, including back-to-back two-point victories against Nebraska and Missouri, before the Bears blew out Texas Tech. Learning to survive in tight situations is something the Bears failed to manage throughout the Big 12 schedule last season. The changeover has contributed to their 20-win season.
Texas A&M 78, Baylor 71
Baylor 55, Nebraska 53
Baylor 64, Missouri 62
Baylor 88, Texas Tech 70
at Oklahoma State, Saturday, Feb. 20
vs. Texas A&M, Wednesday, Feb. 24
at Oklahoma, Saturday, Feb. 27
at Texas Tech, Tuesday, March 2
IN FOCUS: With Big 12 play becoming a grind, Baylor coach Scott Drew isn't relying much on his bench. Only two reserves played against Missouri. The shortened rotation certainly keeps the best players on the floor but could eventually take a toll.
--Ekpe Udoh was one blocked shot short of a non-traditional triple-double Tuesday. He had 13 points, 11 rebounds and nine blocks.
--Tuesday was LaceDarius Dunn's third career 30-point game and second this season. He had 32 in the season opener vs. Morgan State.
--Tweety Carter set a career high with 11 assists and notched his third career double-double with 12 points.
--Perry Jones, a Baylor signee from Duncanville, Texas, was named a McDonald's All-American. The 6-11 forward, the only Texan named among the 24 honorees, will join G Tweety Carter as the only McDonald's All-Americans to ever play for Baylor.