The Texas Longhorns and Baylor Bears square off in a Big 12 Tournament semifinal. Yesterday, Texas defeated the West Virginia Mountaineers, 66-49, while Baylor did Texas a favor by dispatching the Oklahoma Sooners, 78-73.
Somewhat amazingly, Baylor has righted the ship after a 2-8 start to conference play. In terms of NCAA Tournament seeding, the Bears, at 23-10, are nipping on the heels of 23-9 Texas. Joe Lunardi currently has Texas as a 6 seed, with Baylor a 7 seed.
Tjarks' preview and Scott Drew "grand unified theory" piece still hold true. There really hasn't been a bag of magic beans to Baylor's strong second half of conference play--the Bears are simply playing up to their talent level.
In both Texas vs. Baylor games, Rick Barnes drew up nice gameplans to neutralize the shooting of Brady Heslip and the size mismatch of Isaiah Austin. Both players had two mediocre games, and a "third time is the charm" effect is not out of the question.
Inside, Cameron Ridley also provides the biggest matchup nightmare for Baylor's pair of brute force bigs, Cory Jefferson and Rico Gathers. Ridley had a solid game on the boards in Waco, and dominated with a 20-10 night in Austin.
But the most interesting matchup will be at point guard, where Isaiah Taylor and Kenny Chery get to highlight their offensive skills. Taylor scored 27 in Waco; Chery responded with 27 of his own in Austin.
Barnes will likely continue to utilize a three-guard rotation to stop Chery. Last game, Demarcus Holland drew primary responsibility, but Felix and Taylor also took cracks at slowing down Chery. In the second half, Drew responded by feeding small forward Royce O'Neale, who towered over his mismatched defender. To counteract this, Barnes could respond by going big with a Holmes-Lammert duo at 3-4, or running some zone D like a box-and-one with Felix shadowing Heslip.
On defense, Baylor ran primarily a 2-3 zone against Texas instead of its prototypical 1-3-1. The Bears looked mostly confused, and allowed easy dribble penetration by Taylor and post entry passes that simply shouldn't occur with defenses crowding the paint. It'll be interesting to see if Drew reverts back to the 1-3-1, or if he has instructed his defense to play closer to the post.
Texas has had Baylor's number this year, but the Bears have not lost since falling to Texas two weeks ago. It should be a good game.
The game tips at approximately 8:30, following the conclusion of the Iowa State-Kansas semifinal. Hook 'em.