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By Daniel Hill
The Baylor Bears will host the Iowa State Cyclones at 8 p.m. today in the Ferrell Center in a crucial Big 12 Conference match up. With both teams knotted at 7-5 in conference, this single game could determine seeding in the Big 12 tournament and eventually in the NCAA tournament.
“Every home game is so critical, especially at this time of the year in the Big 12,” Baylor head coach Scott Drew said. “We’ve won two out of our last three and we need to keep that momentum going.”
With only six games remaining in the regular season, the importance of every game escalates down the stretch.
Since Baylor lost 81-61 against No. 10 Kansas State on Saturday night, the Bears look to bounce back today against the Cyclones.
“I think we’ve got to win,” junior guard Brady Heslip said. “We’ve got to protect our home court so I mean that last game is behind us and we learned from it. We’re ready for the opportunity tomorrow and we need one.”
Last time the Baylor Bears met Iowa State, the Cyclones defeated the Bears 79-71 in Ames, Iowa. The Cyclones present an uncommon challenge for the Bears because they give teams matchup issues and play with such a distinct style.
“What makes Iowa State so dangerous and why every coach prepares so hard against them is they are just unique from the standpoint that they all shoot the three,” Drew said. “They spread the floor out and they’re going to get shots. So it’s just a matter of are they going in or not. The big thing is making sure that if they miss the first shot you can’t give them a second or third shot.”
In their previous meeting, Iowa State senior guard Will Clyburn carried the torch for the Cyclones offensively by posting 28 points. Clyburn hit three 3-pointers, made 11 of 12 free throws and shot 50 percent from the field on seven of 14 shooting.
Baylor must make the necessary adjustments to keep Clyburn in check if they want to earn the victory in the Ferrell Center.
Iowa State does not play an original frontcourt of the conventional center and power forward. Instead, the Cyclones play with a fast pace and every body on their roster shoots the 3-pointer. This can create potential mismatches on the interior for Baylor’s conventional post players, junior power forward Cory Jefferson and freshman center Isaiah Austin.
In Iowa State’s most recent game, they converted 14 three-pointers against TCU.
Making adjustments and preparing for the Iowa State attack will be paramount to the Bears’ success in this upcoming game, and will help the Bears if the two teams meet again in the Big 12 Tournament.
“Well, I think anytime you’ve already played someone you understand the way they are going to play you and you feel like you have a better feel for what they’re going to do and what you’re going to do,” Drew said. “That’s where the coaching really becomes interesting that second time around. You see what adjustments they made and see what adjustments we might make and then from there, hopefully you’ve made the right adjustments and the right changes. Because everyone is always going to tweak some things for that second go round.”
With just six contests remaining in the regular season before the Big 12 tournament, every Baylor game counts for seeding and placement in both the Big 12 tournament and the NCAA tournament.
“The great thing is that we control our own destiny and if we take care of business and do what we need to do, then you even have that opportunity in the Big 12 tournament so you don’t want to put too much pressure on any one game,” Drew said. “There’s only three home games left and we need to be successful in each of those games.”
The Baylor Bears are 16-9 on the season and 7-5 in conference play.
This is just behind the Cyclones, who are 17-8 overall and 17-5 in Big 12 play.