Baylor (18-13) vs. (14) Oklahoma State (23-7)
Thursday, March 14, 9:30 p.m. (et)
The Sports Network
By Lucas Gulotta, Associate College Basketball Editor
FACTS & STATS: Site: Sprint Center (18,972) -- Kansas City, Missouri. Television: Big 12 Network. Home Record: Baylor 12-5, Oklahoma State 15-2. Away Record: Baylor 4-7, Oklahoma State 5-5. Neutral Record: Baylor 2-1, Oklahoma State 3-0. Conference Record: Baylor 9-9, Oklahoma State 13-5. Series Record: Oklahoma State leads, 52-19. .
GAME NOTES: The third-seeded Oklahoma State Cowboys will begin their postseason slate as they tangle with the sixth-seeded Baylor Bears in the quarterfinals of the Big 12 Conference Tournament at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Missouri.
These schools split their regular-season series. Baylor coasted to a 64-54 decision at home on Jan. 21 before the Cowboys answered with a 69-67 overtime win in Stillwater on Feb. 6.
The winner will move into the semifinals on Friday against either Texas or Kansas State.
Scott Drew's Bears closed out the season with a spirited, 81-58, upset of the Kansas Jayhawks which came after a stretch of five losses in six games. Baylor finished with a .500 record against league foes but played very well during its non-conference schedule, during which it downed Boston College, Kentucky, St. John's and BYU. The Bears made it to the Sweet 16 in the 2012 NCAA Tournament, but is in danger of being relegated to the NIT this season after losing a few of its key contributors to the NBA.
All-Big 12 senior guard Pierre Jackson took over the leadership role for Baylor and paces the Big 12 in the scoring column with 19.4 ppg. Jackson put an exclamation point on his terrific regular season with 28 points and 10 assists in the upset of the Jayhawks. The Bears have a pair of talented players up front in freshman center Isaiah Austin (13.6 ppg, 8.8 rpg) and junior forward Cory Jefferson (12.1 ppg, 8.2 rpg). They also have some depth in the backcourt with the sharpshooting Brady Heslip and versatile A.J. Walton.
Oklahoma State wrapped up its regular-season schedule by winning 11 of its final 13 games, with one of those losses coming in double-overtime against top-seed Kansas. The Cowboys knocked off nationally-ranked Kansas State in their finale, 76-70. Sean Sutton's squad has become a very feared opponent as the NCAA Tournament approaches. It began its season with an impressive run through its non-league schedule that included wins over Akron, Tennessee, NC State and Texas-Arlington.
The Cowboys' season was affected dramatically by the arrival of blue chip point guard Marcus Smart, who contributes 15.1 points, 4.3 assists and 3.0 steals per outing. With the rookie guard running the show, Markel Brown focused on putting points on the board and did so well enough to net 15.6 ppg. Le'Bryan Nash is the top scoring forward with 14.2 ppg and Phil Forte adds a double-digit scoring average off the bench. Although Michael Cobbins and Philip Jurick are not really threatening as scorers, they both do a great job defensively and also on the boards to shore up the rotation.
Oklahoma State has a chance to win the Big 12 Tournament if its strong corps of guards can continue to thrive playing alongside one another. Baylor is going to need a huge performance from its senior floor general to win and give it another notable victory on its resume.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Oklahoma State 67, Baylor 64
03/14 10:39:04 ET