Baylor-Texas Tech Preview
Baylor is discovering plenty of sources of offense, a good sign for a team playing in a conference with so many high-octane attacks.
Texas Tech is not one of them.
After struggling through their first three road games, the 22nd-ranked Bears want to show their last one was more indicative of how they'll perform in unfriendly environments as they meet the Red Raiders on Saturday.
All four of Baylor's road games have been against ranked opponents. The first three were losses to Oregon, Texas A&M and Kansas, outscored by an average of 17 points while scoring 67.3 per game on 38 percent shooting. Last Saturday at then-No. 13 Iowa State, however, the Bears (13-3, 3-1 Big 12) shot 52.3 percent in a 94-89 victory.
"We haven't been very good on the road, but... the teams we've faced have had a lot to do with us not having success on the road," coach Scott Drew said.
Reserve Jonathan Motley scored a career-high 27 on 13-of-15 shooting in Ames after totaling 22 points in his previous five games. Another bench player stepped up Wednesday, with Terry Maston scoring a career-best 17 in an 82-54 home victory over TCU.
"Big thing has been our bench the past two games, I believe that is 87 points for us and 18 points for the opponents the last two games, that's pretty good numbers," Drew said.
Maston is averaging 11.8 points in five games since Christmas after previously scoring 5.1 per game.
"We are feeding him spinach at pregame," Drew joked.
The Bears have had a different leading scorer in all four Big 12 games en route to their best start in conference play since 2012-13.
"As a team we feel real good getting ready to go to Lubbock," senior Rico Gathers said. "We are 3-1, this is probably one of our best starts since I think my freshman year. Our confidence is real high."
Gathers, the Big 12 leader with 10.7 rebounds per game, exemplifies Baylor's unselfishness. He's averaged 10.3 points in the last seven, getting far fewer shot attempts after previously scoring 15.7 per game.
Baylor leads the country with 21.7 assists per game. Lester Medford has 11 in back-to-back games and is among the national leaders with 7.1 per contest. Even 6-foot-8 senior Taurean Prince, the Bears' top scorer, is averaging 3.1 assists - two above his career mark.
They've helped the Bears average 81.9 points, still trailing the Big 12's other four ranked teams. Kansas, Oklahoma, West Virginia and Iowa State all rank among the top 10 teams nationally in scoring.
Texas Tech (11-4, 1-3) averages 74.6 points but hasn't surpassed 70 during its current three-game losing streak, shooting 40.2 percent from the field and 24.5 percent on 3-pointers. The Red Raiders are among the less accurate 3-point shooting teams at 30.4 percent and make 5.1 per game, worst among all major conference programs.
None of the Texas Tech starters scored in double figures and they combined to shoot 11 of 34 in Tuesday's 83-70 road loss to Kansas State.
"I thought we got outworked in some areas, but again, we battled and we have a lot of things to work on defensively," coach Tubby Smith told the program's official website.
Top scorer Devaugntah Williams has averaged 7.3 points on 7-of-32 shooting during the three-game skid.
Williams averaged 21.5 points in two meetings with Baylor last season, hitting 11 of 17 from 3-point range, but has made one of his last 14 attempts.
The Bears have won seven of the past eight meetings, including three straight. Prince averaged 23 points in last season's series.