Hoops Notebook: Skinny on Baylor

A preview of Texas Tech's Big 12 matchup with Baylor 6 p.m. Tuesday at United Supermarkets Arena, a look at Devaugntah William's first season as a Red Raider and this week's edition of Where Is He Now?

It is entirely possible that Baylor (18-7, 6-6) is the second best basketball team in the Big 12, but they enter the clash with Texas Tech on a two-game losing skid. Most recently, the Bears fell 74-64 at Kansas (there’s no great shame in that), and before that, lost to Oklahoma State in Waco, 74-65. The Cowboys swept Baylor this season.

But do not believe those two losses indicate weakness on the part of the Bears. Scott Drew’s team has been impressive all season, starting with wins over Stephen F. Austin, Memphis, Vanderbilt, Texas A&M, and New Mexico State in non-conference action, and including victories over Iowa State, Oklahoma, Texas and West Virginia (on the road) in Big 12 play.

Baylor does not have a dominant scorer, but in Taurean Prince, Kenny Chery, Rico Gathers, and Royce O’Neal has players who produce 13, 12, 12 and 10 points per game respectively. Chery shoots at a 40-percent clip from three-point range and hands out almost four assists per game. O’Neal also averages almost four assists, and turns the ball over just a shade over once per outing. Gathers, who averages 12 boards per contest, is one of the nation’s elite rebounders, while Lester Medford is another distributor who averages almost four assists per game.

As a team, the Bears shoot 37 percent from beyond the arc and are plus 10 in rebounding margin.

The Red Raiders sprang an upset over the Bears in Lubbock last season. It will take a particularly herculean effort reprise it.

A Solid Season from Williams: In the midst of what has been a rather miserable season, it would be dishonest to say that even a single Red Raiders has had a good year. However, junior college transfer Devaugntah Williams comes closest. He leads Tech in points per game (10), assists (tied with Robert Turner at 44), and 3-point shooting (36 percent). Additionally, he is second on the squad in steals (25) and in free throw shooting (75 percent). It is hard to say how much Tech will improve next season, but in Devaugntah Williams, Tubby Smith has at least one nice piece to fit into the puzzle.

Where Is He Now? DeShon “Biggie” Minnis was part of a somewhat heralded if rather checkered recruiting class brought in by former Tech head coach Billy Clyde Gillispie. As fate would have it, the class largely fell apart over the course of two seasons, with several players, including Minnis transferring to other schools. Minnis, a Philadelphia native, wound up at Rhode Island.

The Rams are having a very good season, notching a 17-6 overall mark and a 9-3 record in conference action.

Minnis' season, however, has been a mixed bag. He has started 16 games and averages 20 minutes per outing, but is shooting only 41 percent from the floor, 19 percent from beyond the arc, and 61 percent from the free throw line. His strength has been floor generalship. He is second on the team in assists, and has 18 more assists than turnovers. Were he still with the Red Raiders, Minnis certainly wouldn't help Tech’s shooting woes, but would be a nice complement to Robert Turner.

Big 12 Power Rankings:
1. Kansas (21-4, 10-2)
2. Oklahoma (17-8, 8-5)
3. Iowa State (18-6, 8-4)
4. Oklahoma State (17-8, 7-6)
5. Baylor (18-7, 6-6)
6. Texas (17-8, 6-6)
7. West Virginia (19-6, 7-5)
8. Kansas State (13-13, 6-7)
9. TCU (15-10, 2-10)
10.Texas Tech (12-14, 2-11)

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