Tough tests lie ahead for Baylor men’s and women’s basketball

Junior forward Jo Lual-Achul Jr. (left) and senior guard Ishmael Wainright (right) go for the rebound against the Oregon Ducks on Nov. 15. Baylor won 66-49. Photo credit: Jessica Hubble

By Ben Everett | Sports Writer

With Baylor’s men’s and women’s basketball teams being ranked number one and number two, respectively, each team is in the conversation for a Big 12 conference title and potentially a national championship.

If either team is going to accomplish such feats, they will have to get through Big 12 conference play with minimal losses.

Baylor Men’s Basketball

The Bears (15-1, 3-1) suffered their first defeat of the season Tuesday at West Virginia but remain tied for second place in the conference standings just behind Kansas.

The Mountaineers forced the Bears to commit 29 turnovers, stifling an offense that had only been turning the ball over 12 times per game on the season.

“They just took us out of everything,” Baylor head coach Scott Drew said. “We weren’t overconfident. They just kicked our butt.”

Baylor continues its road trip Saturday when it takes on 25th-ranked Kansas State. Following are games against Texas, TCU and Texas Tech before the Bears head to Oxford, Miss. to play Mississippi in the Big 12/SEC Challenge.

After the one-game break from Big 12 play, the Bears travel to Kansas in a showdown that will have major conference title implications.

Baylor’s February schedule also features road games at Texas Tech, Oklahoma State and Iowa State, as well as a highly anticipated home game against Kansas. The Bears wrap up the regular season with a senior night contest against West Virginia and a road test at Texas.

Baylor will continue to lean on junior forward Johnathan Motley, who leads the team in scoring and rebounding at 15.3 points and 9.1 rebounds per game and also leads the Big 12 in doubles doubles, posting six so far.

The Bears also expect to look toward senior forward Ishmail Wainwright for leadership and poise down the stretch as his Baylor career comes to an end.

Drew noted Wainwright’s importance to the team before the season at Big 12 Media Day.

“He’s somebody that is really a special teammate and leader,” Drew told reporters. “He’s been around and awaited his turn, but somebody that really exemplifies what you want in a leader and a teammate, especially a senior.”

The Bears look to bounce back from their loss at 3:30 p.m. Saturday at Kansas State.

Lady Bears Basketball

The Lady Bears (16-1, 5-0) have yet to lose in conference play, riding a 14-game winning streak following a loss at Connecticut on Nov. 17.

Baylor is off to its most dominant Big 12 start in program history, beating each of its first four opponents by 30 or more points and then beating TCU by 23.

Starting Jan. 21, the Lady Bears have a stretch of three straight games against currently ranked teams as they take on number 18 West Virginia and number 22 Oklahoma at home and number 25 Kansas State on the road.

Baylor will continue to use its size advantage to wear down Big 12 teams. Sophomore forwards Kalani Brown and Beatrice Mompremier along with senior guard Alexis Jones and senior forward Nina Davis are putting up double figures so far in Big 12 games.

“We have so much depth it’s almost impossible to know who to stop,” Davis told after a win over Kansas. “You can start (Mompremier), Kalani, Khadijiah Cave, Lauren Cox — you can pretty much start any one of us. But just having that person you know is going to come off the bench and go to the offensive rebounds hard, it’s good to have.”

The Lady Bears continue their Big 12 stretch at 1:00 p.m. Sunday at Kansas.