Norman, OK (SportsNetwork.com) - A pair of ranked foes tip off Big 12 Conference action against each other on Saturday afternoon, as No. 22 Baylor pays a visit to No. 18 Oklahoma.
Baylor has quietly gone about its business this season, winning 11 of its first 12 games, including the last six in a row. The latest triumph came in a 92-51 rout of visiting Norfolk State this past Tuesday, running the Bears' home record to a perfect 8-0. BU, which has a 62-54 loss to Illinois on a neutral court as its only blemish on the campaign, is 2-0 in true road games.
Oklahoma has claimed victory in two straight and in nine of its 12 games this season overall. The Sooners took down visiting George Mason on New Year's Eve, 61-43, to move to 6-0 at home. OU's three losses this season have come against quality opponents in Creighton (65-63), Wisconsin (69-56) and Washington (69-67).
Oklahoma leads the all-time series with Baylor, 41-11, which includes a 20-4 mark in Norman.
As expected, Baylor had little trouble disposing of Norfolk State the last time out. The Bears hit half of their total shots, which included an 8-of-19 showing from 3-point range, while holding the overmatched Spartans to 33.3 percent field goal efficiency and only 29.4 percent beyond the arc (5-of-17). A massive 46-31 rebounding advantage helped BU's cause, as did the fact that NSU committed 18 turnovers. Royce O'Neal paced the Bears with 23 points, while Rico Gathers, Taurean Prince and Al Freeman tallied 13 points apiece. Gathers actually finished with a double-double as he also grabbed 11 rebounds. Kenny Chery and Lester Medford dished out seven assists apiece for the winning side.
Prince leads the Bears in scoring with 11.5 ppg, while O'Neal and Gathers are close behind at 10.8 and 10.1 ppg, respectively. Gathers spearheads the unit's effort on the glass with 10.5 ppg, the team as a whole checking in with a rebounding margin of +11.8. Baylor is scoring 70.6 ppg while allowing only 54.7 ppg. The team's stifling defensive effort permits foes only 37.4 percent success on field goal attempts, and a paltry 26.8 percent from 3-point land. Baylor is the only team in the country to hold all of its opponents to 66 points or fewer this season.
Buddy Hield scored 17 points, the majority of which came in the opening half, as Oklahoma whipped George Mason earlier in the week by nearly 20 points. It wasn't the best offensive performance by the team, as the Sooners hit only 39.3 percent of their total shots, missing the mark on 11 of their 15 3-point tries along the way. A 13-7 edge in points from the foul line helped, as did a 47-38 advantage on the boards. Isaiah Cousins was the only other player to score in double figures for OU, as he tallied 11 points.
Hield continues to pace the Sooners in netting 15.7 ppg, thanks to a near 40 percent effort from beyond the arc. Cousins (13.0 ppg, 6.2 rpg), TaShawn Thomas (10.8 ppg, 5.2 rpg) and Ryan Spangler (10.0 ppg, 8.4 rpg) round out the double-digit scorers for an Oklahoma squad that produces 74 ppg while allowing only 59.4 ppg. The team's superb defensive effort results in foes shooting just 35.9 percent from the floor, 27.6 percent from downtown, and sees them turn the ball over an average of 14.7 times per outing.