Texas Tech (13-15, 5-9) versus Baylor (18-10, 6-9)
Where: Waco, Texas, Ferrell Center
When: 12:30 p.m. (CT) Saturday
TV: Big 12 Network (U-Verse 14, Suddenlink 6, DirecTV 640, Dish 432)
Radio: Texas Tech Sports Network from Learfield Sports
The Matchup: It seems like years since Texas Tech upset then No. 12 Baylor in Lubbock, and it probably feels that way for the players on both teams. Much water has passed under the bridge since then, and that water has been fairly turbulent for both teams.
Tech's victory sent Baylor into a five-game tailspin. And since the loss in Lubbock Baylor has gone 5-7 and their hopes for an NCAA tournament berth are guttering. If the Bears are to get to the right side of the bubble, they cannot slip up against the Red Raiders.
Like Tech, Baylor has no real stars, but they do have a great deal of balance. Four Bears, led by Corey Jefferson, are double-digit scorers. He averages 13 points per game, while Brady Heslip, Isaiah Austin and Kenny Chery all kick in 11 points per outing.
The Bears are an extremely accurate team from deep, and they rebound the ball very well. BU shoots 40 percent from three-point range and is plus-eight in rebounding margin. Weaknesses are free throw shooting, perimeter defense, and forcing turnovers. The Bears shoot only 65 percent from the charity stripe, allow opponents to knock down 36 percent of their trey attempts, and force only 10 turnovers per game.
The Red Raiders are suffering through a four-game losing skid, and frankly, are getting little offensive production from anybody other than Jordan Tolbert who, with a couple of glaring exceptions, has played reasonably well lately. The statistics bear out Tech's declining play.
Jaye Crockett's scoring average has slipped back down to 14 points per game, and his shooting percentage has dropped to a fairly pedestrian 51 percent. It almost seems as though he has been beaten down by all of the heartbreaking losses. Robert Turner, who once had a solid 2/1 assist-to-turnover ratio, now has 76 assists and 47 turnovers. He coughed up the rock five times the last time out against Kansas State. Tech's three-point shooting percentage has dipped back down to 32 percent while they are allowing opponents to connect on 34 percent of their downtown efforts. Perhaps most worrisome of all, the Red Raiders have now committed two more turnovers than they've handed out assists. A negative ratio in that area is a red flag.
Tech's only claims to fame right now are a 74-percent free throw shooting average and a plus-four number in rebounding margin.
Tech Player to Watch: Despite a dumbfounding flagrant foul against Kansas State that handed the Wildcats a five-point possession, Jordan Tolbert is the only Red Raider with a steady pulse right now. He has consistently scored in the teens and has been good for around 10 boards per game over the last several outings.
Baylor Player to Watch: In the Bears' five-point loss to Texas last time out, point guard Kenny Chery had a career game with 27 points, five-of-seven shooting from beyond the arc, two assists and no turnovers.
Notable: Baylor averages just south of 6,600 in attendance at the Ferrell Center this season.
Quotable: "But the place [United Spirit Arena] is energized. Last year when we played here there were only a couple of thousand people and you could hear ourselves talk. Now you have got the students here, the noise-makers, and Coach Smith heading the programs. We want to beat him, but you cannot get a better person in our business that everybody respects." —Kansas State coach Bruce Weber
Tech Looks to Get Back on Track in Waco
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