USA TODAY Sports
A tough test to open conference play.
The Texas Longhorns (8-5) start Big 12 play with a significant challenge, heading north I-35 to play the Baylor Bears in Waco. Per the norm, the Bears are equal parts fascinating (beating Kentucky at Rupp Arena) and frustrating (losing at home to College of Charleston).
What the Bears are is plenty talented. Senior point guard Pierre Jackson is, of course, fascinating and frustrating at the same time. He's a lethal scorer and deft passer, but can get too selfish at times. An All-American candidate, Jackson leads the team in PPG with 19.0 and APG with 6.3 (all stats as of 12/24). In the backcourt, he's flanked by elite defender and negligible offensive threat A.J. Walton and sharp-shooting wingman Brady Heslip (36.8% 3-pt%). Backup guards Gary Franklin, L.J. Rose and Deuce Bello haven't contributed much this year, with the upperclassman Franklin garnering the most minutes of the trio.
The frontcourt is anchored by McDonald's All-American freshman Isaiah Austin, who measures past 7 feet but plays a small forward's game. Look for his signature glasses; you can't miss him. An ankle injury slowed him down earlier in the year, but he's still at 13.9 PPG and 8.7 RPG. At the 4, bruiser Cory Jefferson gets the Quincy Acy upperclassman development award, while backup freshman Rico Gathers may be the next Acy clone.
TEXAS (7-4) @
Saturday, Jan. 5, 2012 • 1 p.m. CT