Texas College Basketball
There may not have been a win that meant more in college basketball last weekend than Baylor’s win at West Virginia. Both went into that Game on the bubble and the Bears came away with a huge road win, scoring 52 points in the second half.
After losing seven of eight Games, Baylor has now won Four straight, but still isn’t a lock for the Tourney. A win here would put them in a very good position, but a loss would mean the Bears probably need two more wins before the Big 12 Tourney.
The Longhorns are a different story and should be locked into a Big Dance berth after they won nine out of ten Games. However, their inability to play on the road is becoming worrisome as they have lost three straight away from home. Fortunately, this Game will be played in Austin.
The last time these teams played, both were at opposite ends of the spectrum with Baylor on its losing streak and Texas on its winning streak. The Longhorns won by 14 points in Waco as Baylor had trouble doing much, shooting 32 percent from the field and 3-of-17 from three-point land. That story will likely be a bit different in this one because since that Game, Brady Heslip was inserted into the starting lineup and has at least Four three-pointers in six of the last eight Games for Baylor. He’s kind of like a fire starter on this offense due to his shooting.
Still, the bigger question is what Baylor does defensively against Isaiah Taylor who torched them for 27 points in that first meeting. The freshman’s quick first step was a difference maker, but he is coming off a 1-of-14 shooting night so maybe that confidence isn’t fully there at the moment.
The Bears also need to do a better job at keeping Cameron Ridley and Jonathan Holmes off the offensive glass. Both are big bodies that most teams have trouble with, but Baylor has the size to deal with them. Isaiah Austin and Cory Jefferson can hold their own and they still have Taurean Prince and Rico Gathers off the bench.
In addition to Heslip, point guard Kenny Chery and Jefferson have been big scorers during the last few Games. Chery is averaging close to 15 while Jefferson is averaging over 20 points in the last three Games. That needs to continue.
As for Texas, if Taylor struggles, someone else has to step up. Will it be one of the bigs in Ridley or Holmes? Or will it be fellow guard Javan Felix? He is incredibly inconsistent, but does have the ability to put in 27 points. It’s likely that Heslip will draw that matchup so that’ll be one to watch out for.
Being at home, it’ll be tough to stop the Longhorns and they definitely don’t want to extend their losing streak with a road Game at Oklahoma coming up this Saturday. Baylor has the pieces to be a good team, but they don’t show that every Game. If the Bears win tough back-to-back road Games in the Big 12, a lot of people will be impressed. Then again the Longhorns could easily open this Game up if Baylor doesn’t hit shots early.
Predicted Score- Texas 80 Baylor 72