Lone Star State showdown pits Bears against Red Raiders

11:10 AM, Jan 15, 2014   |    comments
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Lubbock, TX (SportsNetwork.com) - The 12th-ranked Baylor Bears will play only their second true road game of the season on Wednesday night, as they pay a visit to the struggling Texas Tech Red Raiders in Big 12 Conference action from United Spirit Arena.

Baylor has only lost two of its first 15 games, but one of those came in its only other true road test -- an 87-72 setback at Iowa State on Jan. 7. The Bears bounced back by blasting visiting TCU last Saturday, 88-62, giving the team its first conference win of the campaign. Baylor is 19-1 versus in-state opponents since the start of the 2011-12 season.

Texas Tech is mired in a three-game losing streak, all in conference, and has dropped five of its last six overall to fall to an even 8-8 on the season. The Red Raiders hung touch at Texas last Saturday, but fell in a 67-64 final. That came just five days after taking West Virginia to overtime before succumbing in an 89-86 decision. Texas Tech is 7-3 at home this season, but has lost two in a row and three of its last four in Lubbock.

Texas Tech owns a 75-51 lead in the all-time series with Baylor, but the Bears have won the last four meetings. Baylor has been victorious the last four times it has played on the Red Raiders' home floor.

Baylor has had very little trouble putting points on the scoreboard this season, averaging 79.0 ppg in hitting 49.1 percent of its field goal attempts, which includes a 41.6 percent showing from 3-point range. The Bears are also a solid defensive team, as they hold their foes to just 65.9 ppg behind typical shooting efforts of .401 overall and .346 from beyond the arc, all while dominating the glass to the tune of a +11.3 rebounding differential. They are however, -2.7 in turnover margin. Four players are averaging double figures, led by Cory Jefferson and his 13.5 ppg. Jefferson is also high man on the boards with 8.8 rpg, and he gets considerable help from Brady Heslip (11.5 ppg, .494 3-point FG percentage), Kenny Chery (10.9 ppg, 5.3 apg) and Isaiah Austin (10.7 ppg, 5.9 rpg, 3.1 bpg).

Austin and Jefferson were the only two starters to score in double figures in the recent win over TCU, netting 14 and 11 points, respectively. A total of three guys came off the bench to do a lot of the heavy lifting, as Taurean Prince led the way with 23 points. Heslip nailed five treys to tally 15, and Rico Gathers finished with 10 points and 12 boards, joining Jefferson who came away with 14 caroms, as double-double performers. Baylor went a perfect 21- of-21 at the foul line, while TCU was just 9-of-20. A massive 54-25 rebounding advantage certainly helped Baylor's cause.

Texas Tech has done a decent job at the offensive end of the court this season, putting up 73.7 ppg in making good on 47.4 percent of its total shots and 75 percent of its free throws. Unfortunately, the Red Raiders are giving up nearly 70 ppg, with their opponents shooting 35.1 percent from long range. Jaye Crockett (14.4 ppg, 6.3 rpg) and Jordan Tolbert (12.4 ppg, 6.8 rpg) are both averaging double digits for coach Tubby Smith's club, which relies more on balance as evidenced by the fact that five others are netting between 5.3 and 9.7 ppg.

Crockett and Robert Turner both scored 19 points against Texas over the weekend, but those efforts went for naught as the Red Raiders dropped a tough three-point decision to the Longhorns. TTU shot 45.7 percent from the floor, compared to 45.1 percent for UT, but the Red Raiders were outrebounded by a 32-24 margin.

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