Bears head to Stillwater after back-to-back losses

Photo credit: Lariat File Photo

By Ben Everett | Sports Writer

No. 6-ranked Baylor men’s basketball looks to bounce back from two straight losses against Oklahoma State at 6 p.m. today in Stillwater, Okla.

The Bears (20-3, 7-3) are in their first losing streak of the season, losing at Kansas and at home against Kansas State last week.

Sophomore guard Jake Lindsey says the losses haven’t fazed the team, and they continue to look forward.

“We have an experienced crew,” Lindsey said. “We’ve been through ups and downs. A lot of us have lost big games, so I think we know how to respond.”

The Cowboys (15-8, 4-6) are on a five-game winning streak after losing their first six games in conference, including a 61-57 loss in Waco to an undefeated Baylor team.

One of the reasons for Oklahoma State’s success is a change in schemes on the defensive end. Baylor head coach Scott Drew is preparing to see a much better defensive team than the last time the two teams played.

“Primarily, we’re going to see man-to-man,” Drew said. “What they’ve adjusted is from the denial to a more pressure and gap defense. They’ve been really sound defensively, and they’ve done a good job of controlling the glass.”

The Cowboys are fifth in the Big 12 Conference in rebounding margin at +4.5 and rank fourth in the league in steals at 8.3 per game.

Despite the improved defense, Drew says, their offense is their best weapon.

“Really, they’re scoring offensively,” Drew said. “They have the second best [offensive efficiency rating] in the country, and they’ve got a lot of weapons.”

The Cowboys are led by an experienced backcourt of senior Phil Forte III, junior Jeffrey Carroll and sophomore Jawun Evans, all averaging double figures in scoring.

Forte III is a sharpshooter who is the all-time Oklahoma State leader in three-pointers made, at 304, and leads the entire country in free throw percentage at 94.7 percent.

Carroll, meanwhile, is a big guard that is the only Big 12 player to average 17 points and seven rebounds per game. Moreover, Carroll is shooting an impressive 47.4 percent from distance this season.

Evans, the Cowboys’ point guard, is projected as a first-round NBA draft pick. He leads the team in scoring and assists at 18.3 points per game and 5.4 per game, respectively.

Baylor will look toward junior forward Johnathan Motley and junior point guard Menu Lecomte to lead the Bears out of an offensive slump.

Motley, a finalist for the Karl Malone award for best college power forward, leads the team in scoring at 16.2 points per game while pulling down a league-leading 9.8 rebounds per game.

Lecomte, a transfer from Miami, scores 12.3 points per game dishes out 4.3 assists per game, and leads the team in minutes played at 30.1 minutes per game.

Oklahoma State leads the all-time series 54-25, including a 26-6 mark in Stillwater, Okla., but has only a 15-13 advantage overall since Drew took over the Baylor program.

Following the road contest, Baylor returns to play TCU at 1 p.m. Saturday in the Ferrell Center.