By Ben Everett | Sports Editor
Baylor men’s basketball hits the road to face No. 19-ranked Iowa State at 8 p.m. Tuesday in Ames, Iowa. The Bears are looking for the season sweep of the Cyclones after defeating them 73-70 on Jan. 8 at the Ferrell Center.
Baylor senior guards Makai Mason and King McClure will once again be game-time decisions as both are dealing with injuries. Mason has missed two of the last three games with a toe injury and McClure has missed the last three contests as he deals with a knee injury.
Baylor head coach Scott Drew said both players are progressing in their recovery, but the status of the two veteran guards is still up in the air for Tuesday’s game.
“The good news is they’re getting better,” Drew said. “The bad news is I can’t tell you anything definite yet.”
On Saturday, the Bears were blown out by No. 15-ranked Texas Tech in Lubbock 86-61. Without Mason and McClure, Baylor committed 19 turnovers, just one shy of a season-high. Freshman point guard Jared Butler said he puts the blame on himself as the starting point guard.
“Being a point guard, I take it personally,” Butler said. “When [Mason and McClure] do go out, I want it to be like there’s no let off. It’s weird when Makai plays and we win and then when I play we lose. It’s hard on me.”
Going into the matchup against the red-hot Cyclones, sophomore forward Mark Vital said he would like the team to come out with more energy and intensity on the road, especially since the Bears might be without two key players.
“I think we should play tougher,” Vital said. “Go out there with more energy. It’s a different squad, so everyone has to fill in their place.”
Iowa State is coming off a 78-64 upset win over Big 12-leading Kansas State on Saturday in Manhattan, Kan. The Cyclones shot 14-for-24 from 3-point range in the win, showcasing their offensive firepower.
Drew said the Iowa State is a known commodity on offense, but that doesn’t mean they are easy to stop.
“Offensively, everyone knows how talented they are and what they’re capable of,” Drew said. “Unfortunately you can play really good defense and they can still score. You just want to control what you can control. Make it as tough as possible. We know they’re going to score; we just want to make sure they’re not getting easy looks.”
Iowa State leads the Big 12 in scoring at 78.9 points per game. The Cyclones also lead the league in field goal percentage (48 percent) and are second in 3-point percentage (37). Senior forward Marial Shayok is second in the Big 12 in scoring at 19 points per game.
Drew said Iowa State can be a dangerous team in fast break situations, so containing the Cyclones’ fast offense and the home crowd will be the key to winning the game.
“They’re really good in transition, especially at their place when the crowd gets involved,” Drew said. “We have to take care of the basketball and get back on defense.”
Following the matchup with Iowa State, the Bears will return home to face West Virginia at 1 p.m. Saturday at the Ferrell Center.