Big 12 showdown pits Bears against Pokes

Stillwater, OK ( - The eighth-ranked Oklahoma State Cowboys put their perfect home record on the line once more, as they welcome the Baylor Bears to Gallagher-Iba Arena for Saturday's Big 12 Conference showdown.

Baylor had been considered one of the top teams in the country through the first two months of the season. The Bears went 12-1 in non-conference play, but their fellow Big 12 members haven't been nearly as accommodating as they come into this contest sporting a dismal 1-6 league ledger. BU has lost five straight, the most recent of which being a 66-64 setback to visiting West Virginia this past Tuesday. It was the third consecutive home loss for the Bears, who had been 9-0 at the Ferrell Center previously.

Like Baylor, Oklahoma State had steam rolled its way through the non-league portion of its schedule, only to find the Big 12 slate much tougher to navigate. The Cowboys bring a 16-4 overall record into this clash, with three of those losses coming against conference rivals. The Pokes have actually lost two of their last three games, including an 88-76 setback at bitter rival Oklahoma this past Monday. The good news is OSU is a perfect 10-0 at home this season.

Oklahoma State has dominated the series with Baylor over the years, logging a 52-20 mark. The Cowboys won two of the three meetings between the two last season, including a 74-72 verdict in the Big 12 Tournament.

The teams are set to complete the regular-season series with a Feb. 17 meeting in Waco.

Brady Heslip drained four 3-pointers on his way to 13 points, while Taurean Prince added 11 and Kenny Chery chipped in 10 for Baylor, but those efforts weren't enough to get the team over on visiting West Virginia earlier this week. The team as a whole made good on 45.5 percent of its total shots, which included a 10-of-20 showing from beyond the arc, and it controlled the glass by a 37-27 margin. Unfortunately, 17 turnovers proved costly.

Baylor is scoring 75.7 ppg while permitting 67.7 ppg, and the team boasts four double-digit scorers in Cory Jefferson (12.6 ppg, 8.2 rpg), Chery (11.0 ppg, 5.0 apg), Heslip (10.9 ppg, .475 3-point FG percentage) and Isaiah Austin (10.3 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 57 blocks). The Bears are converting their long-range launches at nearly 40 percent, and they are +8.7 in rebounding margin. Careless ball handling has hurt them from time to time, as they are guilty of roughly 13 turnovers per outing.

Marcus Smart hit for 22 points, Phil Forte added 20 and Markel Brown tallied 18, but those efforts went to waste as Oklahoma State fell by double figures at Oklahoma the last time out. The Cowboys shot just 40 percent from the field and suffered a crippling 30-15 deficit in points from the free-throw line. The Sooners put four players in double figures, including Ryan Spangler who logged a monster double-double with 15 points and 17 rebounds.

Smart (17.3 ppg), Brown (16.6 ppg), Le'Bryan Nash (13.8 ppg) and Forte (13.0 ppg) are all averaging double figures in the scoring column for Oklahoma State, which lights up the scoreboard to the tune of 83.8 ppg while allowing 67.1 ppg. The team is hitting its field goals at a 47.7 percent clip, with its 3-pointers falling through 37.5 percent of the time. Conversely, the opposition is shooting just 38.8 percent from the floor, while committing 14.6 turnovers per outing.