By Kaitlyn DeHaven | Digital Managing Editor
Baylor men’s basketball will take on Texas at 8 p.m. Wednesday at the Ferrell Center. The last time the Bears played UT, the Longhorns snapped Baylor’s six-game streak with an 84-72 win on Feb. 6.
Both freshman guard Jared Butler and sophomore forward Mario Kegler said in the last game Baylor played against UT, it felt like the team wasn’t mentally prepared for the fast-paced Longhorns. Butler said that going into this game he thinks that even though the Longhorns are quick, they still have their weaknesses.
“We’ve just got to understand their weaknesses and strengths going into the game,” Butler said. “I think last game we weren’t prepared enough, but this game we are for sure.”
Baylor head coach Scott Drew said that the experience the team has gained the last few weeks should help them with their upcoming competition. He said going into this next game, the team will be prepared for the quickness of the guards, as well as the trouble around the rim UT freshman forward Jaxson Hayes gave the Bears.
In the first meeting, senior guard Makai Mason injured his toe in a practice before the game – something that Drew said he believes attributed to his 1-for-7 shooting from the field. During the past few weeks, both Mason and senior guard King McClure have been working toward recovery, and both of been practicing with the team.
Drew said that while he doesn’t know whether McClure is ready for the game until game time, he’s getting closer to being fully recovered. If McClure does not play against Texas, he will have been out for six games straight due to his knee injury. On the other hand, Mason has only missed two out of the last five games and is likely to be on the floor Wednesday.
Kegler said that Mason is trying to stick it out and fight through the pain, but the team is fully prepared to step up and take his position if necessary.
“We know he’s not 100 percent, and every game we go into we know somebody else has to step up,” Kegler said. “We know he’s going to give everything he’s got and we need to be there for him too as hard as he plays.”
Kegler notched his first double-double against West Virginia on Saturday with career-highs of 23 points and 10 boards.
Since Butler stepped into the starting lineup after sophomore forward Tristan Clark’s injury, he has been a player to watch. This week, he was named Big 12 Newcomer of the Week after averaging 14.5 points per game, 4.5 assists per game and 4.0 rebounds per game. In addition, he is shooting 44 percent on 3-pointers, which is the highest of the team.
Drew said that while at the beginning of the year he really didn’t know how the team would perform, the new players are starting to come into their own.
“I knew at the beginning of the year we were better than we were playing, especially offensively – the way we were shooting the ball and taking care of it,” Drew said. “And that came to fruition. The numbers have definitely rebounded, and I think the guys we’ve recruited and brought in are showing what they’re capable of.”