College Basketball Game of the Week: Baylor vs. Texas
The Big 12 has been one of the most competitive conferences in all of college basketball, and this matchup is the pinnacle of that statement.
The second-ranked Baylor Bears, which are currently undefeated, will travel to Austin, Texas, to take on the No. 6 Texas Longhorns. The rankings say this may shape up to be an instant classic, but due to recent events, the tide may turn in favor of Baylor.
Texas had to pause all basketball-related activities due to an outbreak of COVID-19, which caused head coach Shaka Smart to contract the virus and go into self-quarantine. As such, the team has missed three of its last four games over the span of two weeks, with the lone game played being a one-point loss to the previously unranked Oklahoma Sooners.
Over the course of the season, the Longhorns have been a high-flying offense, averaging 76.4 points per game and hitting 45% of their shots. The majority of the points are coming from the excellent guard play of Andrew Jones, Courtney Ramey and Matt Coleman III.
Texas is a team that does not have a defined big man in the paint, so it’s been the forwards who have added range from the field, intensity in the paint when grabbing boards and an offense meant to pick up the tempo in transition. Kai Jones and Jericho Sims running the full 94 feet for transition buckets aids in the high-production offense.
On the defensive side of the ball, Texas has allowed 66.2 points per game while averaging six steals and four blocks per game. In the Longhorns’ three losses this season, all have been by single digits, and two of the three came to ranked opponents as well.
However, as good as Texas is, Baylor has been one of the best teams in all the NCAA. The Bears have proved time and time again as to why they are making a strong case for the national championship.
It all starts with defense, which is the reason why this team is undefeated so far. Scott Drew’s Bears have allowed just 62.4 points per game, which falls in line with their 9.7 steals, 4.3 blocks and 38.2 rebounds per game.
To complement the defense, the Bears have been dominating the offensive half of the court by averaging 87.3 points per game on 50% shooting from the field. The deep ball has been a blessing for the folks in Waco, Texas, considering the Bears have shot 43% from behind the arc, all thanks to a select few players.
It starts with guard Jared Butler, who leads the team with 16.8 points and 2.3 steals per game. Butler has been getting the job done on both sides of the floor, with his high intensity pressure on the ball handler and high basketball IQ when setting up the offense.
His role players fall in line; guards MaCio Teague shoots the lights out from 3, and Davion Mitchell finds the open man. The paint is protected well by guard Mark Vital, who leads the team in blocks with 1.1 per game, as well as forward Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua cleaning the glass left and right.
The Bears constantly run on a very high motor, which will improve their stamina and cause mayhem for the Longhorns. Texas will seem a little rusty due to their shutdown from COVID-19, and that is what will cost them this game. Baylor will run the floor and Texas out of their home court Tuesday night.
Prediction: Baylor 85, Texas 72
Jonathan Draeger is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.