Waco, TX (SportsNetwork.com) - Ranked rivals in the Big 12 Conference get together on Saturday evening, as No. 19 Oklahoma pays a visit to No. 21 Baylor.
Oklahoma has won twice as many games as it has lost this season (12-6), but the start of Big 12 play has been anything but kind to the squad as it is an even 3-3 in conference. The Sooners dropped an 85-78 decision at Kansas last Monday in what was their third loss in the last four games overall. It also meant OU is just 2-3 in true road tilts this season.
Baylor took on visiting NAIA foe Huston-Tillotson in its most recent outing, and probably felt a bit too comfortable at the outset as it needed a potent second half to break open what had been a close game at the break. The 81-61 victory was the team's third in the last four games, and elevated its home record to 10-1 on the season. BU now dives back into Big 12 play where it is just 2-3.
Oklahoma owns a commanding 42-11 lead in the all-time series with Baylor, and that includes a 73-63 victory in the first meeting between the two this season in Norman on Jan. 5. The Sooners have won 36 of the last 41 meetings, and they are 17-5 in games played in Waco.
Buddy Hield poured in 26 points and Isaiah Cousins added 18 more, but those efforts weren't enough to propel the Sooners to victory in their latest clash with Kansas. Ryan Spangler tacked on 13 points and Jordan Woodward 10 of his own for Oklahoma, which shot just 40 percent from the field, going 8-of-25 from 3-point range in the process. Spangler wound up with a double-double as he grabbed 10 of the team's 36 rebounds on the night. Kansas, which hit its first eight 3-point tries in the contest and put five players in double figures, made good on 48.3 percent of its total shots.
Hield has been a consistent offensive force for Oklahoma all season long, as he averages 18.1 ppg in knocking down nearly 40 percent of his attempts from beyond the arc. Cousins (12.8 ppg, 5.7 rpg) and TaShawn Thomas (11.1 ppg, 5.8 rpg) are netting double figures as well, helping the team muster up 73.3 ppg while permitting only 62.6 ppg. Spangler is close to joining the ranks, as he tallies 9.7 ppg to go with his team-high 8.3 rpg. The Sooners hold minimal advantages in both rebounding (+1.8) and turnover (+0.8) differentials.
Rico Gathers had a record-setting performance in Baylor's recent triumph over Huston-Tillotson as he scored 25 points and grabbed a whopping 28 rebounds. His scoring number was career high, while his rebounding total set a new Big 12 mark. Royce O'Neale and Kenny Chery, the only BU players averaging more than 30 minutes per game, got a well-deserved night off. Gathers, who had 11 points and 16 boards at intermission, got help from Taurean Prince and Al Freeman who tallied 13 and 10 points, respectively. The Bears were successful on only 5-of-21 3-point attempts, but went 20-of-26 at the free-throw line. BU committed 17 turnovers, but doubled up the Rams on the boards, 60-30.
Prince (12.2 ppg, 5.5 rpg), Chery (11.2 ppg) and Gathers (10.8 ppg, 12.2 rpg) are all averaging double digits in the scoring column for Baylor, the latter also turning the trick in rebounds, and the team as a whole is generating 69.3 ppg. O'Neale and Johnathan Motley are both close to joining the mix as they net 9.7 ppg each for a team that is holding its opponents to a minuscule 57.8 ppg on typical shooting outputs of .390 overall and .297 from 3-point land. A massive +11.1 edge on the glass has certainly played an integral role in the team achieving many of its goals this season.