Here we are on January 24th looking a must-win game right in the face. After the tough loss Saturday afternoon in Lubbock we can't afford to come out of Texas with two straight losses. I know road games in conference play are very hard games to win but it is an absolute must that there is a check in the W column later on tonight.
The Bears are a rising program and it will be a tougher game every year for the next couple. Bryce Drew has this program heading in the right direction, evident by their 11-6 record so far. They have not played well in conference play however starting out 1-4 with their lone win coming against....guess who....Texas Tech. They are a borderline NIT team depending on how well they perform in conference play, probably having to win 4 or 5 more games to be considered. They are coming off their worst game of the year, a 51-91 loss in Norman, Oklahoma. That is another bad sign for us, they are going to be pissed off at the world and are going to come out hot. This is their National Championship game with the Jayhawks coming to town and they will start out the game with a lot more energy and passion than we will. We have to withstand that opening spurt and be able to come back in the 2nd half and run away with the game.
This game reminds me a lot of the game a week and a half ago in Ames, Iowa. This program is on the rise and I think that the Cyclones need a few rebuilding years to get used to McDermott's style before they begin competing again. Plus, we always struggle up there in Iowa where as we have never had too much of a problem in Waco. Like I mentioned earlier, Darrell Arthur is ready to be booed for him deciding on the Jayhawks over the hometown Bears.
Baylor lacks a real 'leading scorer' as four players average between 12.4 to 11.1 points per contest. Those 4 are starters Kevin Rogers (12.4), Curtis Jerrells (12.2), Aaron Bruce (11.4) and Henry Dugat (11.1) are joined by Mamadou Diene in the starting lineup. Diene averages 5.5 points and 5.5 rebounds a game. Those 5 starters combine to score (anyone know off the top of their head?) 52.6 points per game compared to their team average of 75.8 points meaning the bench, led by Tweety Carter (9.5) and Tim Bush (7.2), scored 23.2 points a game.
As a team they are shooting 47% while having their opponents shoot 42.7% from the field.
Three Keys to the Game
1. Withstand the Opening Rush
Like I mentioned earlier, this is Baylor's National Championship game and they will be amped up once the ball is tipped. If we can get out to a lead great, but if they jump out we need to keep the game close and jump on them later.
2. Get Sasha Kaun Involved
Most of our recent wins we have gotten Sasha involved early, the Red Raiders didn't let Sasha get going and that really hurt us later on. We have to be able to establish the inside game to help SC and Super Mario get going on later.
3. Don't Look Over the Game
The last thing we need to do is assume this is a W and start looking ahead. If we lose this game we are in major trouble, let's just worry about tonight's contest in Waco and worry about Colorado starting tomorrow morning.
Rock Chalk Jayhawk!