By Chris Derrett
A week after their blowout loss at home to Kansas, the Baylor men welcome Oklahoma State to the Ferrell Center at 3 p.m. Saturday.
The game gives the Bears a chance to rebound from back-to-back forgettable games, the latest being an 85-65 defeat to the Jayhawks.
Watching the scoreboard at halftime Monday night, showing a 20-point Jayhawk lead, was frustrating. Seeing it on film before a week of intense practice was even more difficult.
“It’s hard, just being an athlete [and] having that will to compete, just to see us not play how we know it can play,” sophomore point guard A.J. Walton said. “It hurts. We’re better than that.”
Head coach Scott Drew, who called a practice Tuesday instead of giving his squad the day off, said even the team’s mindset was not adequate Monday night.
“We didn’t meet [Kansas’] intensity level. They definitely were more intense than us, quicker to the ball, more physical than us. I think we all saw that watching film,” Drew said.
The message was sent loudly and clearly to Drew’s players.
“I liked it. It was one of the best practices we’ve had, [with] everyone just being more pumped up knowing we just got blasted by Kansas. And [we’re] taking it personally, coming to practice, going hard, willing to learn,” senior guard LaceDarius Dunn said.
A win Saturday would keep the Bears from dipping below .500 in conference play. To get it they must go through a Cowboys team bringing many familiar faces on the court.
Both guard Keiton Page and forward Marshall Moses were instrumental to Oklahoma State’s 2010 matchups with the Bears, and each returns posting similar numbers this season.
Page, a 5-foot-9 3-point specialist, is 36 percent behind the arc with 14.2 points per game. Moses does the inside work and scores 16.5 per game shooting 57 percent from the field.
Guard Ray Penn and forward Matt Pilgrim are also among the Cowboys returners, Penn a 3-point threat from the point guard position.
Junior college transfer Jean-Paul Olukemi scored 29 points in Oklahoma State’s 96-87 overtime win over Iowa State Wednesday.
“When we play Oklahoma State, they’re always a team of runs. Both teams like to get up and down the court, like to play fast. You usually get a good game and an exciting game for fans,” Drew said.
The Bears look to reestablish their offensive rhythm and put the ball in the hands of their scorers with high-percentage looks. Against the Jayhawks, Dunn was barely able to sustain his 31-game streak in which he has made at least one 3-pointer, netting a trey with 38 seconds left in the game.
“It was crazy. I felt caved in. They just did a great job, whatever their scheme in the game was, defending me, making me take tough shots,” Dunn said.
Freshman Perry Jones III pleased the NBA scouts in attendance with 20 points. Still the potential NBA lottery pick sees room for improvement.
“Definitely be more aggressive, and be more aggressive going to the glass. Single digit rebounds is not going to cut it in the Big 12. You have to get in there and battle,” Jones III said.
Jones III could find more trips to the rim and haul in more boards given the guard-oriented lineup of the Cowboys, though offensive cohesion could have less to do with the opponent and more with the Bears’ decisions.
“The big difference is our assist-to-turnover ratio. We don’t get as many shots as we got last year, and that’s something we’ve all got to get better at,” Drew said.
Baylor stands 11th in the conference with 0.81 assists per turnover on the season (214 to 265).
With each game the clock ticks closer to postseason play. In Saturday lies either a quality win on the Bears’ tournament resume or additional disappointment.
“We have to stay focused, not get too riled and not worry too much about the little things,” Dunn said.