Texas-Baylor Preview

KATE HEDLIN
The Associated Press

Baylor bounced back from two tough losses in time to face one of its biggest rivals as it tries to stay alive in the Big 12 race.

The sixth-ranked Bears host Texas on Saturday afternoon as they look to avoid a third straight loss in the series.

Baylor was undefeated and ranked No. 3 in the AP poll before losing 92-74 at Kansas on Jan. 16. Five days later, the Bears (18-2, 5-2) fell 89-88 at home to then-No. 5 Missouri.

Perry Jones III helped Baylor avoid a third straight defeat after recording 21 points and 12 rebounds in a 77-65 win over Oklahoma on Tuesday. It was Jones' highest-scoring output in 11 games after he was held to eight in the loss to the Tigers and recorded nine total rebounds in the two losses.

"Welcome back, Perry Jones," coach Scott Drew said. "After he tweaked that ankle in Kansas, for a game-and-a-half I think that affected him. He had two good practices and mentally got right and physically has gotten better.

"He's back to playing how he's capable of playing."

The losses have left Baylor tied with Missouri - two games behind first-place Kansas - but Jones' performance has the Bears feeling better about their chances of catching the Jayhawks.

With Jones struggling the previous two games, Baylor's opponents shot 56.0 percent and the Bears were outrebounded by an average of 10.5. They held the Sooners to 3 of 12 shooting from 3-point range and outrebounded them 31-27.

"Defense and rebounding - those were the most important things coach emphasized," Jones said. "He said our offense was good, but we just need to continue to rebound. That's what I came out and tried to do."

Baylor lost both of its games against Texas last season with Jones averaging 11.0 points, 8.5 rebounds and 3.5 turnovers. The Longhorns (13-7, 3-4), however, have struggled against ranked opponents this season, dropping to 0-4 after a brutal seven-day stretch earlier this month.

After losing three in a row to conference opponents in the Top 25 - two of which were by a total of seven points - Texas snapped its skid with a 62-55 win over Iowa State on Tuesday.

Myck Kabongo scored 13 points, Julien Lewis added 12 points and seven rebounds, and J'Covan Brown scored 12 despite missing 13 of 16 shots.

The Longhorns doubled their six-point halftime lead early in the second half, then held on after the Cyclones pulled within three.

"We had big breakdowns at the end," coach Rick Barnes said. "We had the lead and got careless. ... Overall, I think we made progress, but we still have a ways to go."

Brown is shooting 25.7 percent the last three games, bad news for someone who takes 15.8 shots per game - the most among major conference players in the nation. He showed some relative restraint against the Cyclones, though, after firing up a total of 54 in losses to Kansas State and Kansas.

"We all had to step up and take more shots," said senior center Clint Chapman, who had eight points, five rebounds and three blocks. "That is one thing we talked about going into the game, and it worked out well."

The Longhorns are shooting 40.4 percent in conference games - eighth in the Big 12 - while Baylor is shooting a league-best 50.5 percent.

Texas has won 12 of its last 13 visits to Waco, losing on March 6, 2010, as Bears forward Quincy Acy had 24 points.