Five years ago, Ekpe Udoh and Obi Muonelo led Santa Fe High School in Edmond, Okla., to a state championship. On Saturday, the former teammates will face off at Gallagher-Iba Arena, with Udoh and Baylor trying to sweep the season series from Oklahoma State for the first time.
Udoh was forced to sit out the Bears’ 84-74 loss in Stillwater on Feb. 21 due to transfer rules, and as a result is set to play his first college game in Oklahoma.
The former Michigan player has been a dominant force for the No. 22 Bears (20-5, 7-4 Big 12) during his first season in Waco, averaging 13.5 points, 10.3 rebounds and a conference-best 4.4 blocks. The 6-foot-10 Udoh just missed his second triple-double of the season Tuesday, scoring 13 points with 11 boards and nine blocks in an 88-70 victory over Texas Tech.
“I wanted it bad, but when everybody found out I had nine blocks, we stopped playing aggressive defense,” said Udoh, who needs 10 blocks to set the Big 12 record with 119.
Facing Muonelo for the first time since high school, Udoh had 13 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks in an 83-70 win over the Cowboys on Jan. 16. Muonelo was just as good, scoring a team-high 21 points and hitting five 3-pointers.
Muonelo helped Oklahoma State (18-7, 6-5) avoid what would have been a devastating loss Wednesday. After the Cowboys let a 20-point first-half advantage slip away at Iowa State, the 6-5 guard scored 21 straight second-half points for a 69-64 victory.
“I really wanted to win this game,” Muonelo said after finishing with a season-high 31. “Getting to the (NCAA) tournament has been on my mind. I just wanted that stress to go away. I knew that, with this game, it doesn’t mean that we’re in it. But it takes a whole lot of stress off.”
However, with games against Baylor, No. 15 Texas, top-ranked Kansas and No. 24 Texas A&M looming, the stress may have just started for the Cowboys.
Oklahoma State has won six in a row against Baylor at Gallagher-Iba Arena, but slowing down the Bears’ talented backcourt of LaceDarius Dunn and Tweety Carter could be difficult.
Dunn, second in the Big 12 with 19.1 points per game - just behind the Cowboys’ James Anderson at 22.5 - averaged 22.0 points and shot 41.0 percent from 3-point range in his last five games. Despite being held scoreless for the opening 14:34 on Tuesday, Dunn finished with 30 points.
“It was a little chilly in the gym. I was a little stiff, so I was just trying to get loose,” said Dunn, who needs three 3s to become the program’s all-time leader with 268.
Carter, who leads the Big 12 with 6.3 assists per game, has averaged 21.0 points and shot 62.5 percent from 3-point range in three games in Stillwater. He matched a career high with seven 3s and scored 30 points in the Feb. 21 meeting.
Anderson had 20 points in each of his last three matchups versus the Bears.
Baylor has won four of the last six meetings with Oklahoma State after losing 18 of 19.