Austin, TX (SportsNetwork.com) - The Baylor Bears try to break out of a three- way tie for third place in the Big 12 Conference standings as they pay a visit to the Texas Longhorns at the Frank Irwin Center on Monday night.
Baylor has a league mark of 10-6 following weekend play, which locks the team up with both West Virginia and Iowa State in the standings, as the three programs continue to chase Kansas and Oklahoma with time winding down in the regular season. On Saturday afternoon, the Bears won their fourth straight outing with a 78-66 victory over 20th-ranked West Virginia, a Mountaineers team that tried to compete with two key pieces missing due to injury.
As for the Longhorns, they are in the bottom third of the standings at 6-10, after suffering a fourth straight defeat at the hands of league-leading Kansas, 69-64, in Lawrence on Saturday.
The Bears easily won the first meeting of the season in late January by a score of 83-60 at home in Waco, as Kenny Chery posted 23 points to lead four Baylor players in double figures. Texas, which shot only 5-of-26 behind the 3- point line and 1-of-3 at the free-throw line, was led by Jonathan Holmes with 17 points and Isaiah Taylor who had 16, to go along with a game-high 10 assists.
Despite the overwhelming win in the first clash of the campaign, Baylor still trails in the all-time series by a count of 160-84.
Baylor caught a break against the Mountaineers as the visitor's star player, Juwan Staten, was out of action due to injury. With Staten out of the picture it was up to Gary Browne to be the leader for WVU, but he exited less than three minutes in after he had his lower leg rolled over by Rico Gathers. Still, the Bears had to keep their composure as they captured the 12-point win.
Taurean Prince tallied 20 points off the bench, while fellow reserve Al Freeman responded with 10 points and seven rebounds. Royce O'Neale tallied 18 points and seven assists, shooting 4-of-6 behind the 3-point line, followed by Gathers with 17 points and 10 of his team's 31 rebounds, as the unit shot an impressive 51.1 percent from the floor and outscored WVU at the free-throw line, 22-8.
Even though he has come off the bench more often than not, Prince is still the leading scorer for Baylor with his 13.6 ppg as he shoots 41.1 percent from 3- point range. However, he could be even further in front of his teammates if not for the fact that he has made only 59.8 percent of his tries at the charity stripe. Gathers is averaging a double-double with 11.3 ppg and 11.9 rpg, one of only a handful of players this late in the season able to make that claim. Chery and O'Neale pitch in with 11.2 and 10.1 ppg, respectively, but still the squad is scoring just 69.8 ppg.
The Longhorns threw a real scare into Kansas a few days back at Allen Fieldhouse, as the visitors led by three at the break and then took the top team in the Big 12 down to the wire in a five-point decision. Taylor led the way for Texas with 17 points, eight assists and six rebounds, followed by Demarcus Holland with 15 points as he knocked down 3-of-5 shots from behind the 3-point line. Kendal Yancy and Myles Turner pitched in with 11 and 10 points, respectively, the latter clearing a team-best eight boards and blocking five shots.
It is not often that you find a player who is not only leading his team in scoring but also assists, yet that is what the Longhorns have in Taylor who is putting up 13.6 ppg and handing out 4.6 rpg, although he has appeared in just 19 of his team's 29 games on the campaign. Turner is second in the scoring department with 11.1 ppg and tops on the glass with 6.6 rpg, not to mention one of the nation's top shot blockers with 79 rejections, even though he has started just seven times in 2014-15. Holmes adds in another 10.1 ppg and 6.2 rpg for a unit that is beating the opposition on the glass, 9.1 rpg.