Texas-Baylor Preview

Baylor might not be the best shooting team in the Big 12, but it typically makes up for that with second chances.

That’s not an area in which Texas tends to give much away.

The conference’s top rebounding teams square off Saturday night in Waco, and the loser will have a hole to dig out of in the league as the calendar turns to February.

The 19th-ranked Longhorns (14-6, 3-4) lead the Big 12 with an average of 42.3 rebounds and 28.7 defensive boards per game, while the No. 20 Bears (15-5, 3-4) are second with 41.2 a contest and 15.9 on the offensive glass.

When Baylor doesn’t reach its offensive rebounding average, it tends to struggle. Scott Drew’s team had 13 in Tuesday’s 64-53 loss at Oklahoma State, falling to 6-4 overall and 1-3 in the Big 12 when grabbing fewer than 16.

The Bears got 13 points from Lester Medford and Rico Gathers recorded his conference-leading 10th double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds, but they shot 34.5 percent and finished with eight second-chance points.

"Normally, where we make up some ground is on the second-chance points, and we weren’t able to do that either, tonight," Drew said. "I thought we struggled."

What’s worse for Baylor is Texas has allowed one team to grab 16 offensive rebounds, and that’s because Iowa shot 29.6 percent and missed 38 shots in the Longhorns’ 71-57 win Nov. 20.

Neither team is known for offensive efficiency with both ranking in the bottom half of the 10-team conference in scoring, field-goal percentage and turnovers. Texas is sixth in points per game (70.4) and shooting (43.7 percent) and eighth in turnovers (13.6). Baylor is eighth in scoring (68.5) and shooting (42.2) and sixth in turnovers (12.6).

The Longhorns are coming off one of their better offensive efforts, though it resulted in an 89-86 loss at No. 15 Iowa State on Monday. Texas managed 61 second-half points for its top scoring half of the season and made 10 of 22 from 3-point range, but it was unable to recover from a 21-point deficit with 12 minutes remaining.

"The tempo we played with the last 12 minutes is what we started the season with," said coach Rick Barnes, whose team has dropped consecutive games for the second time this month. "We’ve got to get back to that."

Javan Felix scored a season-high 20 points with a 4-for-4 mark from beyond the arc, while Jonathan Holmes and Isaiah Taylor had 17 points each.

Taylor, the team leader with 13.1 points per game, had been terrible in the first four conference games with 8.3 points on 25.0 percent shooting. Those were his first games back from a wrist injury, and in three since the sophomore is averaging 17.7 and shooting 44.4 percent.

The Cyclones shot 54.7 percent after none of Texas’ opponents were able to reach 48.0, and another tough road test is next.

Baylor is 11-1 in Waco, with the loss coming 56-55 against then-No. 12 Kansas on Jan. 7. The Bears have since beaten the two ranked opponents they’ve hosted, then-No. 11 Iowa State on Jan. 14 and then-No. 19 Oklahoma last Saturday.

Texas, meanwhile, has dropped seven of nine against the Top 25.

The Longhorns have won the last three regular-season meetings, but Baylor won the last matchup 86-69 on March 14 in the conference tournament. Taylor scored a career-high 27 in the last visit to Baylor, a 74-60 win Jan. 25, 2014.