Bears tip off against Sooners tonight at OU, seek to end three-game slide

by dentonramsey

Bears tip off against Sooners tonight at OU, seek to end three-game slide

By Denton Ramsey, NCAA Basketball Sportswriter/Big 12 Fans Bears Correspondent

 

WACO, Texas – Tonight at 7 p.m. CT, the Baylor Bears (17-7 overall, 5-5 Big 12) shoot to end a three-game losing streak in conference play when they tip off against the Oklahoma Sooners (17-8, 5-5).

The Big 12 showdown will be broadcast live on ESPN Plus (The “CW” in Waco, Temple and Bryan), with Bob Carpenter and Paul Splittorff calling the action from the Lloyd Noble Center in Norman, Okla.

According to BU big man Kevin Rogers, despite the Bears recent three-game slide, the Baylor men’s basketball team’s confidence is still up.

“It [our confidence] is definitely still up,” Rogers said. “We can’t let a couple of games get us down because there’s still plenty of season left to go. We can only take things from [the Texas] game and learn from them and hope we get better before we play Oklahoma.”

Baylor dropped their last conference match-up, a home game at the Ferrell Center against the University of Texas, in a five-point heartbreaker after battling back in the game’s final seconds.

“From a coach’s standpoint, we did a great job coming back,” Baylor Head Coach Scott Drew said. “I was proud of the team’s effort to give ourselves a chance to get a win down the stretch. I credit Texas for making big plays.

“I told the guys in shoot-around that this program’s back to a point now where you have ESPN, you have the largest crowd in the school’s history, and you’ve got a chance to beat a top-10 program.”

Drew is exactly right.

Since Drew’s arrival in Waco nearly five years ago, the Baylor basketball program has gone from zero to hero – hanging with some of the best teams in the nation this season while finally beginning to get the recognition they deserve after taking a program from the ashes and creating an NCAA Tourney-bound team.

“This has been a tough week, and you’ve got to be above .500 in the league to normally get to the NCAA [Tournament],” Drew said. “We’re going to get five or six teams in, and our goal is to be in the top half so that we’re in that position.

“I don’t think we played well at Oklahoma State, but I think we played better [against Texas]. Over the last two years we’ve finished very strong, and I look for us to get on a roll pretty shortly here.”

Beginning tonight in Norman, the Bears’ hoops team will hopefully heed the words of their head coach as they face an OU team riding a two-game winning streak after defeating Texas Tech, 66-64, on Saturday (Feb. 16) in Lubbock.

A win tonight would push Baylor into a two-way tie for fourth place after Texas A&M was blown out last night (Feb. 18) in Austin, falling by 27 points to the Longhorns on ESPN Big Monday.

In just a few short hours, we’ll have a little better idea of who’s who in the Big 12 Conference… although a majority of our questions (postseason births, etc.) will still have to wait until March’s madness to be answered.

Check back tonight after the BU-OU match-up for post game quotes, notes, stats and more…

 

Game Notes

In addition to hopes and prayers of ending a three-game slide in the Big 12, the Bears also aim to end a 27-game losing streak against the Sooners – dating back to a 75-69 win at OU on Dec. 6, 1977.

On a happier note for Bears fans, Baylor’s 5-5 conference start matches its best ever in Big 12 play after opening the 1997-98 season (my freshman year at BU) with a 5-5 mark.

Also, Baylor’s 17 wins this year surpasses last season’s win total and is the most since Drew inherited the program (additionally, its the most wins since 2000-01, when the Bears won 19 games and received a postseason birth in the NIT tournament).

In conference play, Baylor leads the Big 12 in scoring (81.4 points per game), free throw shooting (78.1 percent) and three-pointers (8.0 threes per game).

With three more wins, Drew (53 victories with the Bears) will move into seventh place on Baylor’s career coaching victories list; also, if BU guard Curtis Jerrells (1,051 career points) can put up 11 or more points tonight on the road, he will move him into 15th place on Baylor’s career scoring list.

Aaron Bruce could also join the Bears’ top-10 milestones list as well – with Bruce (309 assists) needing just five more assists to move into fourth place on Baylor’s career assists list and needing just 66 more points to move into sixth place on BU’s all-time scoring leaders (Bruce currently has 1,294 career points).

In addition, Bruce (129 threes) is just three three-pointers shy of moving into sixth place in the Big 12’s career three-pointers in conference games list, while freshman LaceDarius Dunn (56 threes) is just three three-pointer shy of moving into second place on Baylor’s freshman three-pointers list (Tweety Carter is currently third with 57 in 2007 and John Lucas III is second with 59 in 2002).

 

 

Denton Ramsey may be reached via email at denton.ramsey@gmail.com

 

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