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Preview: Oklahoma State-Baylor

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The undefeated Baylor Bears (14-0) are riding high in the 2016-2017 season, one of the nation’s biggest surprises to date. Miami-transfer Manu Lecomte has been the leader of the team at the point, as the Bears have effectively reloaded from losing three starters (one to graduation, one NBA lottery pick and one to the Dallas Cowboys).

After winning a thriller at home against Iowa State earlier this week, the Bears are projecting as a No. 1 seed in the tourney currently, and may move to it’s first ever No. 1 ranking on Monday should they win against OSU.

Viewing Information
  • Time: 6 p.m.
  • TV: ESPNEWS
  • Location: Waco, Texas
  • Line: Baylor -11
Season Trend

The Bears have won some big boy games to be 14-0. They have one of the most impressive résumé‘s this season with 5 wins over KenPom top 50 teams. That’s more than Kentucky, Duke, Villanova, or any other team can lay claim to.

The Bears took a veteran Iowa State team to the wire, hit some clutch shots and the defense suffocated first team All-American point guard Monte Morris to 4 of 18 shooting (22%). Iowa State’s sharpshooting kept them in the game, but the three Baylor bigs proved to be too much, just overwhelming the Cyclones inside with a 47-28 rebounding deficit.

The Pokes are the only thing that stands between Baylor and being the first team in Texas ranked no. 1 in the country since the 08′-09′ Texas team. Here’s to hoping the Pokes can rain on the Bears parade in Waco today.

Players to Watch

Manu Lecomte

Hailed as the best outside shooter in Waco since *gasp* Brady Heslip, Lecomte started 40 games at Miami his first two years before taking his talents from South Beach. A native of Belgium, he’s developed a tear drop that would make an Argetine named Manu cry. The preseason Big 12 player of the year stirs the pot for the Bears (5th in Big 12 with 5.1/game), the Pokes will have to keep a tight leash on him.

Johnathan Motley

Currently no. 6 in “CBS’ Player of the Year Rankings”, the nimble-footed 6’10” junior will be a handful for the undersized Cowboys. The uber-productive forward has 11 double-doubles in his last 13 games, is second in the conference in rebounds (12.5 per game) and leads the team in points (16.0 per game).

He comes down with most boards, puts back missed shots with authority and isn’t afraid to step out to mid-range and knock down a jumper. He’s fun to watch (when not owning N’Guessan and Solomon) as he can finish with either hand and has good awareness tossing the ball around the floor.

Strengths and Weaknesses

The Bears are particularly good at a couple of things: getting great shots and making sure you don’t get very many. Third in the league in field goal percentage (49.9%), Motley leads the way taking good shots at close proximity and stifling teams with league-high defensive numbers (allowing 58.4 points/game at 37.5% shooting). When you do get a shot off, either Motley, junior college transfer seven-footer Jo Lual-Acuil or bullish reserve Terry Maston is pulling down the boards.

A couple of things the Cowboys can try to exploit this weekend is to get the Bears running up and down the floor and force some turnovers. Baylor favors playing in the half-court as their bigs are a major strength, it’s to OSU’s favor to play at a fast pace. The Pokes lead the league in three point shots (9.1 per game), something that gave them trouble playing Iowa State and something they struggle to match (shot 3 of 17 at home on Wednesday).

Statistical Comparison

Other Notes
  • Jawun Evans is tied for the Big 12 lead for scoring (19.7).
  • Freshman Thomas Dziagwa is shooting 48.8% from three point range, including 14 of 28 over the last six games.
  • Playing the No. 2 Baylor Bears, OSU is 9-14 all-time against the AP No. 1 or 2.
  • The Cowboys are seventh nationally in offensive rebounds (15.43 per game).
  • Over the last ten meetings, the Cowboys and Bears have gone on five consecutive two game winning streaks:

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