No. 2 Baylor eyes home-court edge vs. Iowa State

WACO, Texas — Last week, the Iowa State Cyclones used the momentum created in part by a sold-out Hilton Coliseum crowd to make a second-half comeback and avoid a home loss to Texas Tech to start Big 12 play.

If it comes down to it, No. 2 Baylor hopes it can do the same thing on Wednesday.

“It’s a big goal for us to be successful at home and we can’t do it without the fans,” Baylor coach Scott Drew said. “The more they can show up, the more they can be loud and boisterous and support us, the more they can affect the game.”

Baylor enters the first full week of Big 12 action with a 13-0 record – the only unblemished season so far in the conference – and the highest ranking in program history.

While Iowa State came back from 14 down in the second half to defeat Texas Tech in Ames, Iowa, on Friday, the Bears went on the road to crush Oklahoma.

Baylor’s 76-50 win over the Sooners in Norman, Okla., was the latest in its litany of impressive victories so far. But it certainly wasn’t the most eye-opening.

Baylor posted four victories over top-25 foes in nonconference play, including No. 4 Oregon, No. 24 Michigan State, No. 10 Louisville and No. 7 Xavier. With that, the Bears entered conference play as the newly minted frontrunner to win the league despite Kansas’s 12-year regular-season title streak and West Virginia’s impressive nonconference performance.

The Bears also have a four-game winning streak in their series versus Iowa State. And on paper, the Cyclones (9-3) will be facing an uphill battle when they tip off against Baylor.

Iowa State thrived with a four-guard lineup late in the game against Texas Tech. But can the Cyclones do the same versus a Baylor team that features 6-foot-10 Johnathan Motley and 7-footer Jo Lual-Acuil in its frontcourt?

“If you’re going to play four guards, you’ve got to have great toughness, speed, you’ve got to have a resolve about you,” Iowa State coach Steve Prohm said. “Obviously, if you’re just going to play straight man-to-man defense with those guys, you’re going to have to do some things differently. Offensively, we can do some good things attacking them. Defensively, we’re going to have to have great team defense.”

Motley has increased his scoring role this season for Baylor. He’s averaging 16.3 points with a season-high of 26 against Michigan State. He was a problem for the Cyclones last season as he scored a career-high 27 in each of the Bears’ two matchups versus Iowa State.

If the Cyclones stick with their four-guard look, it will likely fall to 6-8 forward Darrell Bowie and 6-5 guard Deonte Burton to slow down Motley.

“For us to be great, we need Deonte to be terrific for us,” Prohm said. “We need Darrel Bowie, we need all those guys to play well. If we have to play four guards, we’re working on it more.”

And, of course, it will help the Cyclones’ chances to have a hot Naz Long sinking buckets. Long scored 19 versus the Red Raiders in the conference-opening win. He posted that total despite going just 1-of-7 from 3-point range.

But Prohm said it’s a matter of group flow rather than just having Long heat up.

“I’ve got to do a better job of demanding offensive execution, because when we do that. we get good looks,” Prohm said.