Red-hot Bears put win streak on the line in Austin

Baylor freshman guard Jared Butler sizes up his defender Saturday at the Ferrell Center. The Bears look to push their win streak to seven games when they face Texas at 7 p.m. Wednesday in Austin. Shae Koharski | Multimedia Journalist

By Jessika Harkay | Sports Writer

The Baylor men’s basketball team is hot off its sixth consecutive win going into a matchup against the University of Texas at 7 p.m. Wednesday in Austin.

During Baylor’s six-game win streak, Texas has gone 2-4. The Longhorns have struggled to keep up with their opponents’ offense, scoring an average of 72.5 points compared to Baylor’s 78.5.

Baylor team leaders have an advantage over Texas in points per game. Senior guard Makai Mason averages 16.7 points compared to Texas senior guard Kerwin Roach II at 14.6. Baylor stands at 13-2 this season (28-2 their last 30 games) when the Bears lead going into the half.

Baylor Head Coach Scott Drew credited the surging offense to different players stepping up and enjoying playing as a team.

“You want to have as many weapons as possible, as many players that can get hot and have big games,” Drew said. “And that’s why we’ve won is we’ve had different guys step up. It’s been nice in multiple games where we’ve had everybody that’s played has stepped up. [Their selflessness] is guys have fun, playing with joy and playing for each other. That’s been a big reason why we’ve been successful. As long as we keep doing that, hopefully good things will happen.”

The Longhorns notably have the biggest advantage in blocks, as freshman center Jaxson Hayes leads the team with 2.5 blocks per game, part of which can be credited to his towering 6-foot-11 stature. Baylor senior guard King McClure said the Bears have to play bigger than they are and stressed importance of ignoring the height disadvantage and staying focused

“It’s huge for us because we’re always undersized. We just play so hard and we’re fearless.” McClure said. “We’ve got guys like Mario [Kegler], Mark [Vital] who’s like 6-5 hanging with guys who are 6-11. It’s just that dog mentality that Coach Drew and all his assistants constantly preach about every single day. You know we say the tougher team wins, and we really pride ourselves on being the toughest team every time we step on the court. So I think we’ve locked into that and really try to make that our point of emphasis this year.”

Although Texas has been struggling to maintain a consistent offense this season, they aren’t a team to underestimate going into the game considering that last year the match went into double overtime and the Bears were victorious 74-73 after a dunk by then-Baylor center Jo Lual-Acuil Jr. in the last six seconds.

With a matchup that’s up in the air and has a competitive history between two teams that have opposing strengths, Drew said the two teams have some commonality.

“They’ve had some great wins, beat the best in the nation,” Drew said. “At the same time, it shows you parity in college basketball. Very similar to us, we’ve played some great basketball and we’ve played some not-so-great basketball. And the margin of error is so thin, especially early in the season when you have a lot of new players. They’re adapting and getting used to things. They’re a younger team like us.”

Following the game in Austin, the Bears will face Kansas State at 5 p.m. Saturday at the Ferrell Center.