Baylor Preview

Up and down. That's the best way to describe the Baylor team that is heading into the Frank Erwin Center Saturday afternoon.

On one hand, oh the losses. The Bears — at one point considered to be one of the top contenders for the Big 12 crown — have seven of them, dropping three of four in one particularly bad December stretch, then repeating that performance in mid January. In fact, the Bears didn't beat a team ranked in the Ken Pomeroy top 60 before taking a close 70-66 victory over Colorado on Jan. 29.

But that game was the start of a good thing for the Bears. They've won three of their last four, including a key road win at Texas A&M and a victory over a tough Nebraska team. Just like that, the Bears went from a 3-3 conference record to 6-4 and third place in the Big 12. The Bears could take a further step forward by knocking off a red-hot Texas team on Saturday.

The Bears have the personnel to give any team trouble, starting with one of the Big 12's top scorers in Lacedarius Dunn and adding in rapidly ascending freshman Perry Jones III. But those two could have trouble getting untracked on Saturday. Dunn is primarily a jump shooter and has struggled at times against better defensive guards like Texas can present. Jones can score with anybody, but he's a limited presence on the boards for someone of his length and athleticism, and could be canceled out by Texas's outstanding freshman Tristan Thompson.

No, Saturday's game will more likely come down to the role players. Can Anthony Jones, a rail-thin 6-10 forward stick with Jordan Hamilton? Can Quincy Acy, Baylor's primary tough man, stay with Gary Johnson and continue to pound the boards? And can A.J. Walton find room to get his shots and score or set up his teammates?

The answer to that question will likely decide the game. Baylor isn't especially deep, with five players earning at least 72 percent of the minutes. And they aren't great defensively, in large part because of an oversized and somewhat slow roster. That leads to the Bears primarily playing a matchup zone that is prone to giving up open shots.

But offensively, the Bears are capable of causing some problems, and represent one of the few challenges left on the Texas schedule.

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