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Preview: Oklahoma State returns home for Big Monday action against Baylor

The Cowboys look to extend their mini-surge in Big 12 play against an up and down Baylor squad.

NCAA Basketball: Kansas at Baylor Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

The Cowboys have drawn their conference and overall records to .500 and they look to continue in the right direction as the Baylor Bears come to Stillwater for some Big Monday action.


Who: Baylor (9-6, 1-2 Big 12 Conference)

Where: Gallagher-Iba Arena; Stillwater, Oklahoma

When: 8 p.m. Central; Monday, Jan. 14

TV: ESPNU

Web Stream: WatchESPN

Radio: Cowboy Radio Network / TuneIn

Live Stats: okstate.statbroadcast.com


Injury Report:

Oklahoma State:

Michael Weathers: Questionable (Ankle)

Baylor:

Tristan Clark: Out (Knee)


Projected Starters

Oklahoma State:

Baylor:

G King McClure (Sr.), G Mario Kegler (So.), G Mark Vital (So.), G Makai Mason (Sr.), G Jared Butler (Fr.)


The Opponent:

NCAA Basketball: Baylor at Arizona Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

The Bears (KenPom No. 54) have had an up-and-down year in Scott Drew’s 16th season. They were missing a couple projected starters early, and after starting to get things together, they lost one of their best players in Tristan Clark for the season just before their bout with KU. Baylor played four guards and Clark before his injury, and seem to have gone to a five guard lineup in their only game since his injury.

Will the Cowboys see the Baylor team that lost at home to Texas Southern (KenPom No. 191) and Stephen F. Austin (234), or the Baylor team that knocked off Iowa State recently (17) and beat Arizona (49) and Oregon (46) on neutral courts?

Typically the Bears play a zone defense, but it helps to have length in their system to shut down lanes and bog down opposing offenses. I haven’t been able to see much of Baylor this year, but KenPom actually lists their defensive footprint as ‘Mostly Man.’ This may be out of necessity more than anything due to Baylor’s sudden lack of size, but it will be interesting to see how the Cowboys choose to match up.


Statistics:

ESPN

3 Things to Watch

1) Size:

Baylor lost one of their best players and the only true starting forward in Tristan Clark when he hurt his knee against Iowa State. Unfortunately for Baylor, it was just announced that he will miss the remainder of the season to have knee surgery. How will the Bears continue to adjust to his loss and how will the Cowboys choose to defend Baylor’s smaller lineup?

Baylor typically has a surplus of length, so it will be strange to see a Baylor squad that has a starting line-up just under a 6’4 average. Can the Cowboys use their length as an advantage, or will Baylor force them to play small as well? Having Weathers will be even more important if they end up going to the latter.

2) Momentum:

This is big for both the team and the fans. Hopefully an injection of wins (and a neat Office theme night) puts a few more butts in Gallagher-Iba seats. I definitely expect the team to continue to grow in confidence from the wins, and it will be important to keep this ball rolling.

3) According to Plan

It doesn’t matter how many times you tell the fans to be patient and to be excited about the future. When the losses start to build up, fans get anxious. This team was always going to struggle with youth early, it just snow-balled into a couple losses that probably shouldn’t have happened. Boynton himself said that he wanted the team to be playing their best basketball come January when conference play started.

January is here, and it looks like the Pokes have started to turn a corner. Is the plan coming to fruition, or will the Cowboys continue their Jekyll and Hyde trajectory?