By Greg DeVries
Baylor men’s basketball will square off with in-state conference rival Texas at noon Saturday at the Ferrell Center.
Last time the Bears played the Longhorns, Texas junior J’Covan Brown was held to 3-10 shooting. Since that game last season, Brown has elevated his game, and he is now the leader of Texas’ basketball team.
It was in this game that LaceDarius Dunn broke Andre Emmett’s Big 12 scoring record. Dunn was the only Bear to finish in double figures as Baylor lost 60-54.
One of the statistics that led to the loss was rebounding. The Longhorns outrebounded the Bears 44-29, with the majority of their rebounds coming on the offensive end.
“Their interior last year really beat us up on the boards, so we have to do a much better job with them on the boxing out part,” head coach Scott Drew said.
The good news for Baylor is that the keys to winning are obvious: stop Brown and win the battle on the boards.
Brown is averaging more than 19 points per game this season. He shoots between six and seven 3-pointers per game but still has a strong drive to the basket. Keeping him off of the free-throw line should also be a point of emphasis. In Texas’ last five games, Brown is 31-32 from the line.
“Texas is a young team that has gotten better throughout the year,” Drew said. “I think J’Covan Brown is one of the premier scorers in the country, and when he gets going he is tough to stop.”
As in most games, Baylor has an advantage in the post.
Sophomore forward Perry Jones III should look to have a big game. He notched his first 20-point, 10-rebound game against Oklahoma on Tuesday. Only one of his made baskets came outside of the paint.
For some of the players, this game isn’t just about strategy or statistics. Texas is just one of those teams that everybody wants to beat.
“It’s Baylor/Texas. It’s a rivalry game. So I think there’s always a little extra in the tank for those games,” Drew said.
Maybe it has to do with the success of Texas’ athletics over the past decade, or maybe it’s because the school is about an hour away. Whatever the reason, this game stands out on the schedule.
“Growing up in Texas, Texas is the school. You go to gas stations, go to malls, you see the gear everywhere,” senior center Quincy Acy said. “They’re rebuilding. They had a couple of 1-and-dones, which says a lot about their program.”
Junior guard Pierre Jackson will look to get his third start this season.
He has earned the starting job after averaging more than 15 points and almost 10 assists per game over the past six games.
Baylor’s all-time record against Texas is 79-157, including 46-64 at home.