College Basketball
Baylor-Oklahoma Preview
College Basketball

Baylor-Oklahoma Preview

Updated Mar. 4, 2020 7:54 p.m. ET

Buddy Hield will surely be leaving Oklahoma with some hardware, though it won't contain a Big 12 regular-season championship.

The sixth-ranked Sooners attempt to rediscover their slipping shooting touch in Hield's final home game Tuesday night against No. 19 Baylor.

This late-season matchup had the makings of a potential Big 12 title decider when the teams met in Waco on Jan. 23, when Oklahoma (22-6, 10-6) then held the nation's No. 1 ranking and Baylor (21-8, 10-6) opened 5-1 in conference play. The Bears have since split 10 league games to fall out of the championship race, as have the Sooners after being dealt a fourth loss in seven games with Saturday's 76-63 setback at Texas.

Oklahoma's struggles can be attributed to a fading accuracy from the perimeter. Though still among the national leaders in 3-point percentage (42.8) and 3-pointers made (10.6 per game), the Sooners have shot 33.3 percent from beyond the arc during a 2-3 stretch.


While Hield has remained near his stellar season averages of 25.4 points per game and a 48.1 percent 3-point rate over that period, the national player of the year candidate's supporting cast has endured a collective slump. Isaiah Cousins has shot 31.1 percent from the field over his last four games and Jordan Woodard, a 44 percent 3-point shooter this season, is at 25.9 percent over the past five.

Hield's six triples and 33 points weren't enough against the Longhorns, who limited Oklahoma to 37.7 shooting. Cousins finished 3 of 13 for nine points and Ryan Spangler was held to two after posting a career-high 26 with 14 rebounds in Wednesday's 71-49 rout of Oklahoma State.

"Other guys have stepped up at different times, but we didn't have enough of that (Saturday)," coach Lon Kruger said. "Buddy has been unbelievably consistent and at the core of everything. He gave a great effort."

Cousins, Woodard and Spangler all hope to get untracked after being honored along with Hield prior to Tuesday's tilt, which still carries significant ramifications for both teams despite their slides. Each sits one game back of second-place West Virginia along with Texas, while the Sooners remain in the mix for a No. 1 regional seed in the NCAA Tournament.

Baylor presents an opportunity for the Sooners to regain their touch, as it's allowed conference foes to shoot 40.9 percent from 3 and 47.5 percent overall - ranking last in both categories. Oklahoma had few issues navigating the Bears' zone-heavy defense in the previous meeting, shooting a season-high 62.0 percent and going 16 of 28 from 3-point range in an 82-72 victory.

The Bears enter the rematch having won three of four and performing well offensively. They've averaged 81.0 points and shot 50.0 percent during that stretch.

"I want us to be playing better basketball towards the end of this season. In some areas we are but other times, the coach is never happy," coach Scott Drew said. "There are areas we have to work on and get better in, and the good thing is we still have some days to do that."

The offensive surge has coincided with Jonathan Motley's elevation into a starting role. The Big 12's leader in field goal percentage (62.2) is averaging 20.3 points and 7.3 rebounds over those four games and had 22 and nine in Saturday's 86-71 win over TCU.

Motley amassed 15 points and 10 rebounds in the teams' previous matchup and scored 24 points in last season's 73-63 loss at Oklahoma.

Baylor owns the Big 12's best road record at 6-2 but has lost three straight at Oklahoma, all by double digits.


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