Pokes and Bears mix it up in Big 12 tussle

Waco, TX (SportsNetwork.com) - Just two days after beating another nationally- ranked rival, the Oklahoma State Cowboys will try to turn the trick once again as they pay a visit to the Baylor Bears on Monday for a pivotal Big 12 Conference clash.


Oklahoma State, which already has a win over Baylor, two against Texas, and one over Kansas, is a puzzling team considering its 16-7 overall record and 6-5 league ledger. The Cowboys, who upset the Jayhawks at home on Saturday (67-62), are hoping to extend their current win streak to three games today, although beating the revenge-seeking Bears on their home floor won't be easy.


Since the loss at Oklahoma State on Jan 27, Baylor has run off three consecutive wins, with the most recent being an 87-69 pasting of No. 15 West Virginia in Morgantown on Saturday. As a result, the Bears improved to 18-5 on the season and 6-4 in the Big 12, which has them tied with the Mountaineers for fourth place in the standings heading into the week. Baylor has claimed victory in five straight home games, and is 13-1 in Waco this season.


Phil Forte scored 16 points, Michael Cobbins logged 11 rebounds and Anthony Hickey dished out 11 assists for Oklahoma State in its win over Baylor last month. Lester Medford tallied 13 points for the Bears, who shot just 34.5 percent from the field in the losing effort.


As a result, Oklahoma State's lead in the all-time series with Baylor increased to 53-22.

Le'Bryan Nash poured in 18 points to lead four players in double figures, as Oklahoma State got by visiting Kansas on Saturday. Hickey finished with 15 points, Forte had 13 and Jeff Newberry 10 for the Cowboys, who shot just 40 percent from the field, missing the mark on 13 of their 16 3-point attempts in the process. Fortunately, they went 20-of-26 at the free-throw line, while the Jayhawks went just 10-of-19. Kansas did nail 10 treys in the game, but shot just 39.6 percent from the floor overall. The visitors committed 18 turnovers, and were outscored in the paint by a 32-20 margin.

Forte and Nash are the only two players averaging double digits in the scoring column for Oklahoma State, as they turn in 17.0 and 16.9 ppg, respectively. The team as a whole produces 68 ppg in hitting 43.6 percent of its field goal attempts, which includes a 33.3 percent showing beyond the arc. The Pokes have done a decent job of converting their free throws (.717), but it is their approach at the defensive end that has helped them achieve favorable results this season. Foes are scoring just 59.8 ppg behind typical shooting efforts of .387 overall and .329 beyond the arc. They also goad the opposition into nearly 15 turnovers per outing.


Baylor performed exceptionally well at both ends of the court in its recent win at West Virginia, as the team made good on 54.9 percent of its total shots, including a 6-of-15 performance out on the perimeter, while holding the Mountaineers to 36.4 percent success from the field and a 6-of-23 effort from distance. Rico Gathers posted a monster double-double with 17 points and 17 rebounds, while Royce O'Neal and Taurean Prince scored 15 points apiece, and Kenny Chery and Al Freeman chipped in with 11 each for BU, which committed 19 turnovers, but won the rebounding battle, 43-35, while logging a 25-15 edge in points from the foul line.


Prince is averaging 12.3 ppg to spearhead a balanced offensive attack for Baylor, which puts up 70.3 ppg thanks in part to its 37.8 percent effort from 3-point range. The Bears have been stingy at the defensive end as well, holding opponents to a meager 58.7 ppg, as the enemy connects on only 38.9 percent of their field goal attempts, which encompasses a 29.4 percent showing from distance. Baylor is one of the top rebounding teams in the nation, coming into this contest sporting a +10.1 differential, and Gathers is at the forefront of that effort as he averages a double-double consisting of 11.0 points and 12.5 caroms per contest.


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