Bears and Pokes duke it out in Big 12 brawl

Stillwater, OK ( - The 20th-ranked Baylor Bears go in search of their third straight victory, as they challenge the Oklahoma State Cowboys at Gallagher-Iba Arena on Tuesday night.


Baylor has bounced back from a narrow loss to Kansas State on Jan. 17 by beating up on NAIA foe Huston-Tillotson (81-61), and then getting by No. 19 Oklahoma this past Saturday, 69-58. As a result, the Bears sit at 15-4 overall and an even 3-3 in conference. After a brief two-game homestand, BU now hits the road where it has gone 3-2 this season.


Oklahoma State enters this fray having lost three of its last four games to fall to 13-6 overall and 3-4 in Big 12 play. The Cowboys were tripped up by Kansas State in Manhattan over the weekend, 63-53, marking their second-lowest scoring output of the season. The Pokes will try to get back on track at home, where they've gone 9-1.


Oklahoma State owns a 52-22 all-time advantage in the series with Baylor, which includes a 25-5 mark in Stillwater. The Bears swept last year's two meetings, and have claimed victory in two of their last three visits to Gallagher-Iba Arena.


The teams will meet in Waco on Feb. 9 to conclude the regular-season series.

Baylor performed well at both ends of the court in its recent win over Oklahoma, shooting an even 50 percent from the field, which included a 9-of-19 effort from 3-point range, while at the same time limiting the Sooners to 38.7 percent field goal efficiency and only 6-of-24 from distance. The Bears were perfect at the free-throw line (8-of-8), and they won the battle on the boards by a 35-29 margin. About the only negative in the game for BU was the fact that it committed 15 turnovers. Lester Medford led four Bears in double figures by netting 17 points, and he combined with Kenny Chery (13 points) to drain six treys.

Baylor is putting up 69.3 ppg while permitting only 57.8 ppg, and the team boasts three double-digit scorers in Taurean Prince (12.2 ppg), Chery (11.4 ppg) and Rico Gathers (10.7 ppg). Three others average at least 8.2 ppg, but it is the Bears' defensive prowess that has them in the favorable position they're in as they allow foes to connect on just 39 percent of their total shots, which includes a 29.3 percent showing out on the perimeter. BU also controls the glass to the tune of a +10.8 rpg margin, making it one of the top rebounding teams in the country.


Poor defensive play led to Oklahoma State's downfall at Kansas State on Saturday, as the Wildcats knocked down 57.1 percent of their field goal attempts, although only two of their eight 3-point tries found the bottom of the net. As for the Cowboys, they struggled from distance as well (3-of-14), but shot 43.2 percent from the floor overall, while also converting 18-of-22 foul shots. Phil Forte paced the Pokes with 22 points, going 10-of-10 at the charity stripe, and Le'Bryan Nash tacked on 13 points of his own in the losing effort.


The duo of Forte and Nash account for half of the team's scoring average, as they generate a combined 34.8 ppg, the Cowboys mustering up 69.1 ppg. Like Baylor, Oklahoma State also plays solid defense, yielding a mere 59.7 ppg on typical shooting efforts of only .385 overall and .311 from beyond the arc. OSU is nearly even in rebounding differential (+0.5), but goads the enemy into more than 14 turnovers per outing.


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