With a victory in its regular-season finale, Baylor will earn a first-round bye in the Big 12 tournament. A loss, though, could drop the Bears to as low as the No. 6 seed.
Baylor tries to win its third straight over Texas and snap an 11-game home losing streak in the series Saturday.
The 21st-ranked Bears (23-6, 10-5) are tied with Missouri and No. 23 Texas A&M for third in the conference. The top four seeds receive a bye in the tournament, and a victory over Texas (23-7, 9-6) would give Baylor the third seed and move it 18 games above .500 for the first time since 1947-48.
The Bears, though, could drop to the No. 6 seed if they can’t post their first victory in Waco against the Longhorns since Feb. 21, 1998.
Following that loss, Texas won the next 24 in this series before falling to the ninth-seeded Bears 76-70 last March 13 in the semifinals of the Big 12 tournament. Baylor won its second straight over the Longhorns and snapped an 11-game slide in Austin with an 80-77 overtime victory Jan. 30.
Senior guard Tweety Carter, who scored 27 points in that matchup, had 18 with nine assists as the Bears won their third straight Tuesday, 86-68 at Texas Tech. Carter leads the Big 12 with 6.2 assists per game.
“All year long Tweety’s given us what we need,” coach Scott Drew said after Baylor set a single-season school record for Big 12 victories. “If we needed scoring, he gives us scoring. If we need assists, he takes care of the ball.”
Ekpe Udoh has taken care of the paint for the Bears. The junior transfer is among the nation’s leaders with 4.2 blocks per game and is averaging 9.9 rebounds, second in the Big 12 to Texas’ Damion James (10.3).
Udoh had seven points, six rebounds and three blocks in January against Texas while James scored 20 with a career-high 19 boards before fouling out in the final minute of overtime.
The Longhorns were ranked sixth in that matchup and were the nation’s No. 1 team for the first time in program history Jan. 11, but they have since become the first team since Alabama in 2003 to go from first to unranked in the same season.
“The thing that may be the best thing for us is we find ourselves at the most important time,” coach Rick Barnes said. “I said I’d give it all up to be playing our best basketball at the end of the year (and) give up the (early wins).”
Texas, which beat Oklahoma 87-76 on Monday, could earn the fourth seed in the Big 12 tournament with a win and some help but will be the No. 6 seed if it loses to Baylor.
Bears junior guard LaceDarius Dunn, who is among the nation’s leaders with 96 3-pointers, is second in the Big 12 with 18.8 points per game. He is averaging 20.3 as Baylor has won 14 of 15 at the Ferrell Center this season.
Texas leads the all-time series 155-77.