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PREVIEW: Baylor vs. Oklahoma State

The Cowboys look to end the weekday blues in Waco.

NCAA Basketball: Texas at Baylor Andrew Dieb-USA TODAY Sports

Two days after an improbable double-digit comeback in the final six minutes against Texas, the Cowboys will be on the road again, this time in Waco.

Head coach Mike Boynton was proud of his team on Saturday, and told them that they just had to keep fighting and play their game.

“Just to keep fighting. Don’t worry about the score and just keep swinging. Keep believing that what we do works. We needed to get a couple of easy baskets, and our defense gave us that opportunity to get out in transition. We were able to finish it with a tip-in layup - a hustle play.” - Mike Boynton

In a wild sequence, Jeff Carroll got a layup attempt but wasn’t able to put it in. Yankuba Sima got the offensive board, but wasn’t able to make his putback attempt fall either. It was Tavarius Shine, back from his 1-game absence, that got the tip to go through the iron to score the go-ahead basket and give the Cowboys the 1-point victory.

Now, let’s look forward to tonight’s game vs. the Baylor Bears.


Who: Baylor Bears (11-6

Where: Ferrell Center, Waco, Texas

When: 8:00 PM CT

Channel: ESPNU

Stream: WatchESPN

Odds: Baylor (-6) | O/U: 145


Baylor comes into tonight’s matchup with an 11-6 record, 1-4 in Big 12 play. The Bears’ lone win came over the Texas Longhorns, bookended by a pair of losses: first to Texas Tech and TCU, then West Virginia and Iowa State.

It’s hard to get a read on the Bears, as they lost by only two points to the No. 2 (at the time) Mountaineers, and were upended by (at the time) No. 16 TCU 81-78. However, they just lost by 10 to Iowa State on Saturday, and were demolished by 24 in Lubbock at the hands of the Red Raiders.

Baylor is averaging 77.6 points per game over their 17 contests, but that number drops to 63.8 ppg if you only factor in Big 12 games. Meanwhile, the Cowboys are averaging 80.2 ppg, 82.2 points in Big 12 play.

However, the Bears are only allowing 70 ppg in Big 12 play. If they can clamp down and the Cowboys start to look complacent like they did in Manhattan, it could be another long night for Coach Boynton and Co.

A pair of familiar faces propel the Bears. Manu Lecomte is the leading scorer, averaging 16.1 each time he takes the floor. He is nearly automatic from the free throw line, shooting 91.2 percent from the stripe.

However, Lecomte has been on quite a cold streak lately, especially from beyond the arc. In Big 12 play, he is shooting 23.7 percent from the floor (14-of-59) and 20.6 percent (7-of-34) from deep. If this streak continues, the Bears will need to look elsewhere for points. Saturday in the loss to Iowa State, he was 0-of-7 from three, and 2-of-12 overall.

Jo Lual-Acuil Jr. is the other big threat the Cowboys need to watch out for. The 7-foot Australian senior is nearly averaging a double-double on the season, scoring 15.6 ppg and grabbing 9.6 rebounds per game. He is shooting just over 53 percent on the season, shooting nearly 12 times per game.


After a hard-fought game against the Longhorns, how rested will the Cowboys be, having only two days of rest?

The Cowboys are looking to reach .500 in conference play, as well as keep a share of second place in the conference.

Right now, the Big 12 is a cluster. Texas Tech, West Virginia, OU and Kansas are all tied for first in the conference at 4-1. Kansas State, Oklahoma State and Texas are all tied for second at 2-3. TCU, Iowa State and Baylor are another game back, sitting at 1-4 in conference.

Tonight’s game is essentially a must-win for the Cowboys. Up next, they have a Bedlam rematch in Stillwater, a Texas Tech rematch in Lubbock, then the Big 12/ACC challenge with Arkansas in Fayetteville. Three good teams in a row. If OSU doesn’t win tonight, worst-case scenario we will be here in two weeks with a 2-6 conference record and all but out of the Big 12 race.

The Cowboys haven’t won a conference game on any other day than Saturday. That needs to change tonight. ESPN’s BPI is giving the Bears a 74.7 percent change of winning on their home floor, where they are 11-2 on the season, only suffering losses to (then) No. 8 Wichita State and (then) No. 16 TCU in overtime.

It’s not going to be easy for the Cowboys, but it never is in the Big 12.

*Shameless Self-Promotion Alert*


Prediction

Time for a heart-to-heart talk between me and the Cowboys.

If you know anything about me (or follow me on Twitter), you know yesterday’s NFC Divisional Round between the Saints and the Vikings was not good for my heart.

Cardiac Cowboys? How about the Vikings? Up 17 at half, blow the lead with 3:01 left in the game, retake the lead with 1:29 to go, only to lose it again with 25 seconds left. Then the “Minneapolis Miracle” happened, and it was over.

My heart can’t take much more stress for a couple days.

Can we please just make this a good, relatively stress-free win? Not only for the program, but also for the football fans out there that are still trying to recover from this past weekend’s games, as well as the Oklahoma State Cowboys fans that are still coming down off Saturday’s thriller?

Man, it was a good weekend for sports — all across the board.

Let’s go. Get it done ‘Boys. Play hard, play fast and don’t take the foot off the pedal.

Cowboys 72, Bears 67