Scott Drew's Bears are still in the hunt for the Big 12 title, but there is no margin for error at this point. Baylor is 9-4 in conference play, a full two games behind league leaders Kansas and Missouri at 11-2. The Bears lost recently to both Kansas and Missouri, but found their way back into the win column with Monday's 79-64 victory over Iowa State.
Frank Martin's Wildcats are out of the conference picture in terms of a championship, but there is still jockeying for position in the upcoming Big 12 Tournament. Kansas State comes into this contest however, off back-to-back losses, falling at Texas last weekend (75-64) and most recently at home to rival Kansas (59-53).
The Wildcats hold a narrow 13-11 lead in the all-time series with Baylor, but the Bears are seeking the regular season sweep after posting a thrilling 75-73 decision in Manhattan back on a January 10th.
The Wildcats lack the scoring punch of the conference elite this season and rely more on their defensive tenacity to remain competitive. KSU is limiting foes to just 63.0 ppg this year, holding them under 40 percent shooting (.397). The team does have some scoring depth with three Wildcats currently averaging double figures. Rodney McGruder, who erupted for a career-high 30 points in the first meeting with Baylor, headlines the group at 14.5 ppg. Will Spradling is next at 10.4 ppg, while Jamar Samuels rounds out the trio with 10.0 ppg.
Samuels netted a season-high 20 points, but it wasn't enough to push the Wildcats past their rival on Monday, getting swept in the season series by Kansas. Samuels, who was 7-of-15 from the floor and 4-of-6 from behind the arc, completed a double-double with 12 rebounds. McGruder added 12 points and eight boards, while Spradling chimed in with 10 points.
After a pair of losses to Kansas and Missouri, Baylor finally found its offensive groove, shooting a cool 60 percent from the floor and posting a comfortable 15-point win over Iowa State on Monday. Perry Jones III led the way with 18 points and seven rebounds. Fellow forward Quincy Miller finished with 16 points and six assists, while Quincy Acy completed the frontcourt domination with 11 points. Guards Pierre Jackson and Brady Heslip added eight points each, while Jackson doled out a game-high nine assists.
Baylor has been a steady offensive force for much of the season and enters this contest averaging 75.2 ppg on a healthy .481 shooting. The team can score both inside and out, led by Jones, who is averaging team-highs of 14.0 points and 7.6 rebounds per game. Miller (12.4 ppg) and Acy (12.1 ppg, 7.1 rpg) add depth up front. Jackson has proven himself to be one of the top point guards in the Big 12 and the country for that matter, averaging 12.4 points and 5-9 assists per game (second in the Big 12).