College Basketball Game of the Week: No. 8 Texas vs No. 9 Baylor
A thrilling matchup in the Big-12 is on tap, as the No. 8 Texas Longhorns travel to take on their intrastate rivals, the No. 9 Baylor Bears.
Texas (22-6 overall, 11-4 conference) is coming in hot, winning three of their last four. The Longhorns defeated the likes of Iowa State, West Virginia, and Oklahoma at home in that stretch— while falling to unranked Texas Tech on the road.
The last four games for the men in orange encapsulates their season to this point. Texas has been dominant at home this year, posting a whopping 16-1 record when playing at the Moody Center. However, the Longhorns have struggled on the road, coasting to a 4-4 record.
Texas will need to put that to bed Saturday night however, as this may be the biggest game they’ve had all season. The Longhorns have rallied back in the Big-12 standings, now tied for the top spot in the conference with the No. 3 Kansas Jayhawks.
That conference turnaround can be attributed to Texas’ midseason coaching change, as Acting Head Coach Rodney Terry replaced former Head Coach Chris Beard hours before the ‘Horns home matchup vs. Rice on Dec. 12.
Beard faced multiple felony charges off the court, and the university decided to part ways with the longtime head coach. Interim Coach Terry was named the Head Coach for the remainder of the season on Jan. 5.
Despite the coaching carousel, the Longhorns have started to play some of their best basketball. That can be attributed to star guard Marcus Carr, who leads the team in both points and assists.
The senior guard from Toronto has been a presence on and off the court for Texas all year. Carr averages 17 points, four assists and three rebounds a night, while also shooting 45% from the field on the year. His leadership abilities have allowed him to take command, and he has shined in the last month.
Holding down the fort with Carr are seniors Sir’Jabari Rice and Timmy Allen. Despite having debatably the best name in sports, Rice completes a dangerous backcourt for the Longhorns— he’s gotten 15 or more points in four of his last five. Allen leads the team in rebounds.
On the other bench are the Baylor Bears, a team that is going in the wrong direction at the wrong time. After starting off the season hot, they’ve lost a step, now sitting in fourth place in the Big-12 standings.
The one thing in Baylor’s favor however— their outstanding play at home. The Bears are 13-2 this season when playing at the Ferrell Center. Although they dropped their last two straight, they were both Quad 1 losses to No. 3 Kansas and No. 14 Kansas State; both on the road as well.
This time around, Baylor needs to bounce back in a big way. With the regular season winding down, games against top-10 opponents, at home, in-conference, need to be won. Baylor will rely on their star Keyonte George to get the job done.
The six-foot-four Texas native has had a great start to his freshman campaign, leading the team in points. George is shooting at nearly a 40% clip from the field, averaging 17 points, three assists and five rebounds a night. Baylor will need all those points if they hope to match Texas’ dynamic offense.
The freshman George won’t do it alone though. Senior guard Adam Flagler and junior forward Jalen Bridges have both come on strong as of late, and look to provide some veteran leadership to complement George’s inexperience. Flagler leads the team in assists, and Bridges in rebounds— the two combine to average nearly 25 points a night.
All in all, this is a make or break game for either side, and a must win. Baylor must break the cold streak if they hope to improve their seeding for the tournament, and Texas needs a road victory to try to chase Kansas in the standings. ESPN’s matchup predictor gives Baylor a 57.2% chance of victory, and the Bears to go 14-2 at home this season.
Tune in Saturday, Feb. 25 at 2 P.M. on ESPN to watch all the action.
Parker Silverman is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the Contributors
Freshman / Broadcast Journalism
Parker Silverman is a freshman at Penn State majoring in broadcast journalism. He is a new member of CommRadio, and has written articles and facilitated podcasts for the radio station. Prior to Penn State, Parker served as a student journalist for his high school newspaper. You can follow him on Instagram at @parker.silverman or on Twitter at @parxsilv.