Talent: John Harris (pxp), Chris Level (analyst), Adam Doyle (sideline)
Radio: Baylor IMG Sports Network / ESPN Central Texas
Talent: John Morris (pxp), Pat Nunley (analyst)
Streaming Radio: TuneIn App, Sirius 108, XM 382, Internet 964
Live Stats/In-Game Home: BaylorBears.com
Twitter: @BaylorMBB | #SicTech
BAYLOR10-2, 0-0 Big 12
Ranking: 18th - AP, 17th - Coaches
Last Game: Dec. 20, 2017 - win vs. Southern, 80-60
Head Coach: Scott Drew (Butler, 1993)
Career Record: 307-193 (16th season)
BU Record: 287-182 (15th season)
vs. Texas Tech: 16-11
TEXAS TECH11-1, 0-0 Big 12
Ranking: 22nd - AP, 21st - Coaches
Last Game: Dec. 22, 2017 - win vs. Abilene Christian, 74-47
Head Coach: Chris Beard (Texas, 1995)
Career Record: 59-20 (3rd season)
TTU Record: 29-15 (2nd season)
vs. Baylor: 1-1
By Jerry Hill
Baylor Bear Foundation
It should come as no surprise that the Big 12 is arguably and statistically the best conference in the country . . . again.
What's different is the depth - 1 through 10 - in a league that features six ranked teams, two others receiving votes and a phenomenal winning percentage of 86.4 going into this week's conference openers. The 18th-ranked Baylor Bears (10-2) start on the road, facing No. 22/23 Texas Tech (11-1) at 7 p.m. Friday at United Supermarkets Arena in Lubbock.
"I don't think there's ever been a year . . . it seems like you always had at least one team that was struggling a little bit," Baylor coach Scott Drew said. "From a coaching standpoint, any loss is not a bad loss. Normally there's one, maybe two teams, that you say you can't lose to them. It's not that way. Oklahoma State and Iowa State were picked 9 and 10, and those are two of the toughest places to play, so you know they're going to get a lot of wins." With the balance of the league, Drew said one of the keys will be having a short-term memory where you "can't get too high after a big win and you can't get too low after a tough loss."
"You go into the conference, and there are no bad losses and only opportunities for good wins," Drew said. "That's a great thing for resume-building. As far as parity goes, I bet if you asked every coach, they would tell you the same thing - we can win the league or we might be able to finish last."
One thing is clear, this is not the same Texas Tech team that lost two overtime games and four others by four or fewer points in an 18-14 season that saw the Red Raiders miss postseason play under first-year coach Chris Beard.
While West Virginia (11-1) and TCU (12-0) are ranked in the top 10, Tech has been the league's biggest surprise. The Red Raiders have two wins over top-25 teams and have won five in a row since a Nov. 30 loss at Madison Square Garden to a Seton Hall team that is now in the top 25.
"Completely different than last year, from the standpoint that last year it was a team defensively that was more compact and less aggressive," Drew said. "This year, it's the sixth-best defensive efficiency team in the country - points per possession - fourth-best in steal percentage. . . . They play 10 people and really try to cause chaos on the defensive end, similar to West Virginia, without the full-court stuff, more in the half court." Beard rotates 10 players, giving them all double-digit minutes, and is "trapping and pressing a little bit more."
The Red Raiders start four seniors and a 6-foot-9 redshirt junior Norense Odiase, with senior guard Keenan Evans averaging 16.5 points and 3.8 assists. All 10 players in the rotation average at least 13.3 minutes and 4.3 points per game. That could be particularly troubling for a Baylor team that has been down to seven or eight healthy scholarship players for most of the season. Senior forward Terry Maston (11.7 ppg, 7.7 rebounds) has been out since Nov. 28 with a broken hand and is "not there yet, as far as playing to the level you need him to play to win in the Big 12," Drew said.
"I don't think we've had a practice all year where we've had everybody," Drew said. "It's tough to get better when you don't have all your pieces there. The good thing is we're getting close to getting everybody back. Frustrated that we're not to that point yet."
Baylor has to do a better job taking care of the ball after committing a combined 39 turnovers in its last two games against Savannah State and Southern. In their first 10 games, the Bears averaged just over 11 turnovers.
"It's definitely something we have to focus on against Texas Tech," said senior point guard Manu Lecomte, who is second in the Big 12 with an 18.4 scoring average while shooting a sizzling 46.2 percent from 3-point range and 93.3 percent from the free-throw line (42-of-45). "They play deep, a lot of players, and they run a lot, so we can't turn the ball over like that and give them a chance to run the floor. That's what they want to do."
Drew said the Bears have to lean on the experience of Lecomte and 7-foot senior center Jo Lual-Acuil, who is first in the Big 12 in rebounds (10.0), fourth in blocked shots (1.8) and 11th in scoring (15.1).
"It starts with your point guard and your big," Drew said. "Those guys are veteran, they have experience, both of them have been through the Big 12 wars. So, we'll depend on them a lot."
After opening conference play on the road, the Bears host back-to-back home games, facing No. 10 TCU at 6 p.m. Tuesday and Texas (9-3) at 1 p.m. next Saturday, Jan. 6.
No. 18 Baylor opens Big 12 play Friday at Texas Tech. Tipoff is at 7 p.m. on Fox College Sports and FSGo.
Baylor and Texas Tech meet for the 135th time overall and 65th time in Lubbock. TTU leads the series 78-56, including a 46-18 mark in Lubbock, but BU is 17-11 against Tech in the Scott Drew era.
Friday marks the first time in series history the teams will meet as ranked opponents.
BU is 17-7 against Texas Tech since 2006, including a 7-5 mark in Lubbock during that stretch.
BU and Tech split the season series each of the last two years. In the last 10 seasons, the Bears swept the series five times (2008, 2010, 2012, 2013, 2015) and split five times (2009, 2011, 2014, 2016, 2017).
Baylor and Tech are meeting before the New Year for the first time since Dec. 29, 1959 in Houston.
Baylor opens Big 12 play on the road for a 5th straight season. The Bears are facing Texas Tech in their Big 12 opener for the 6th time in the league's 22-year history, the most of any opponent.
Baylor is 7-3 in Big 12 openers since 2008 and 10-11 all-time in Big 12 openers. All three of Baylor's losses in Big 12 openers since 2008 were on the road vs. top-20 ranked teams.
Baylor has defeated 18 ranked teams over the last 3+ seasons (18-19 vs. ranked opponents).
BU enters Big 12 play 10-2 overall with its only losses vs. current top-10 teams Wichita State and Xavier.
BU reached double-digit non-conference wins for the 11th time in the last 12 seasons (all except 2012-13).
Baylor has posted a combined 137-28 record in November and December games during the Drew era, including a 55-6 mark in November and December games since 2013.
Baylor is 95-77 in Big 12 play since 2008 after going 45-131 in the league's first 11 seasons.
Baylor ranks top-25 nationally in rebounding margin (8th; +10.2), field goal percentage (10th; .516), assists per game (13th; 18.8), scoring margin (15th; +17.2) and assist-to-turnover ratio (20th; 1.56).
BU is top-30 nationally in both effective field goal pct. (19th; 58.0) and EFG% defense (26th; 45.1).
Manu Lecomte ranks 2nd in the Big 12 in scoring (18.4), Free Throw Pct. (.933) and 3FGM/game (3.8).
Jake Lindsey leads the Big 12 and ranks 15th nationally with a 3.5 assist-to-turnover ratio (45a/13to).
Nuni Omot is averaging 19.3 points on 65% shooting and 5.3 assists per game over his last 4 games.
Jo Lual-Acuil Jr. leads the Big 12 in rebounding (10.0) and double-doubles (6) and ranks 4th in blocks (1.8).
Tristan Clark is shooting 77% (23-of-30) over his last 5 games, raising his season FG% from .500 to .611.
King McClure is averaging 13.5 ppg over his last 8 games, up from 8.0 ppg over the first 4 games.
Mark Vital is averaging 6.6 rpg in 5 games since Terry Maston's injury, up from 3.3 rpg prior to the injury.
BU is ranked No. 18 in the latest AP Top 25, marking a school record with 25 consecutive polls ranked.
Baylor has been ranked for 210 of 469 games under Drew (ranked for just 2 games prior to Drew).
Drew is coaching his 470th game at Baylor (287-182). His .612 winning percentage is best in BU history among coaches with 40+ games, and his teams have a .691 winning percentage since 2007-08.
Baylor has 10 games on its 2017-18 schedule against teams currently ranked in the top 12 of the AP Poll.
BU has 17 games against teams currently ranked in the top 35 of the latest AP Poll (1-2 to this point).
Baylor is 52-9 against in-state opponents since the start of the 2011-12 season.