Waco, TX (SportsNetwork.com) - A pair of Big 12 Conference teams in the Lone Star State get together on Saturday afternoon, as the Texas Longhorns come calling on the 24th-ranked Baylor Bears.
Texas goes in search of its fifth straight win, the team dropping a pair to open conference play earlier this month before going on a four-game win streak, with the last two coming against ranked foes in Iowa State (86-76) and Kansas State (67-64). The Longhorns are now 15-4 overall, and their 4-2 league ledger has them in second place, tied with both Oklahoma and Kansas State headed into the weekend. A win today would mark the first time in program history that it defeated three teams ranked in the AP Top-25 in succession.
At 13-1, Baylor was considered one of the top teams in not only the Big 12, but the nation as well. Unfortunately, the wheels have come off since conference play began, the Bears losing four of five bouts, including each of the last three. Sure three of the setback have come against teams (Iowa State, Oklahoma, Kansas) that have spent time in the national rankings this season, but to be considered the best, you have to beat quality opponents when put in front of you. Baylor is hoping that the hometown crowd can will it to victory against one of its fiercest rivals today, as the team is 9-1 in Waco this season.
Texas owns a considerable lead in the all-time series with Baylor, 158-82, but the teams split a pair of meetings last season, with each winning on its home floor.
The squads will get together again in Austin on Feb. 26 to complete the regular-season series.
Jonathan Holmes hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to give Texas a thrilling win over visiting Iowa State on Tuesday night. Javan Felix paced the 'Horns with 23 points, while Cameron Ridley added 18 for a team that shot 45.6 percent from the field, but that missed 75 percent of its long-range launches (3- of-12). Holmes finished with only eight points, but spearheaded the club's rebounding effort with 10 boards. Demarcus Holland handed out five assists.
Texas is putting up 77.7 ppg while permitting 71.1 ppg, and the team consistently beats the opposition on the glass, logging a +7.0 rebounding margin. Foes are shooting just 40.1 percent from the floor, but they are outdoing the Longhorns from the perimeter (.340 to .334). Holmes (12.8 ppg, 7.4 rpg) paces the unit in scoring, while sitting second in rebounding. Felix (12.5 ppg, 2.9 apg), Ridley (11.3 ppg, 7.5 rpg) and Isaiah Taylor (10.8 ppg, 3.7 apg) have all shined at different times and in different areas for a team that could be just hitting its stride.
Baylor played poorly at both ends of the floor in its recent loss at Kansas, as it hit only 39 percent of its field goal attempts while allowing the Jayhawks 57.5 percent success. The Bears did manage to go 13-of-27 from 3- point range, but they committed 16 turnovers and went a miserable 9-of-20 at the free-throw line. Kansas went 26-of-29 at the stripe. Brady Heslip came off the bench to hit six treys on his way to 19 points, while Isaiah Austin drained four 3-pointers to net 16, and Cory Jefferson finished with 16 as well.
Baylor has had very little trouble scoring this season, putting up 77.2 ppg behind typical shooting efforts of .475 overall and .401 from distance. The Bears also own a significant margin in rebounding (+9.3), but are in the red with regard to turnovers (-1.9). Jefferson (13.2 ppg, 8.3 rpg) leads the team in both scoring and rebounding, while three others average double digits in points. Kenny Chery has dished out 94 assists to go with his 11.4 ppg, while Austin has 50 blocks to complement his 10.7 ppg.