Baylor-Oklahoma Preview

The Associated Press

Baylor wants to focus on defense and rebounding after back-to-back losses.

The sixth-ranked Bears completed a grueling four-game Big 12 stretch with their first defeats, and they start what could be a more favorable stretch with Tuesday night's trip to Oklahoma.

Baylor (17-2, 4-2) was on the program's longest winning streak before falling 92-74 at then-No. 7 Kansas last Monday and 89-88 at home to then-No. 5 Missouri on Saturday.

"I think offensively we've been good both games," coach Scott Drew said. "I think defensively we have not guarded or rebounded like we have previously."

Only one Baylor opponent had shot 50 percent prior to last week. The Jayhawks shot 57.4 percent while the Tigers were at 54.5, and the Bears were outrebounded 39-24 by Kansas and 32-26 by Missouri.

"With our front line, Quincy Miller is a freshman, Perry Jones is a sophomore," Drew said. "So I think that's a learning process and a learning curve and it shows just how tough it is to win in the Big 12."

Miller scored a season-high 29 points Saturday while point guard Pierre Jackson had 20 points and a season-best 15 assists in his first start.

Jackson is second in the conference with a 49.3 3-point percentage and 5.9 assists per game, emerging as one of the Big 12's top newcomers.

"We definitely thought that he had the potential to do what he's done now," Drew said. "At the same time, with any recruit, you're never 100 percent certain until you see them actually have a chance to perform in these kind of atmospheres and environments."

After Baylor faced three ranked teams in its previous four games, its next four are against squads with losing Big 12 records.

"For us, Pierre and our backcourt, besides (junior A.J. Walton) they are all new," Drew said. "This is a learning experience for them playing against top-10 caliber teams and having to find out what we need to do."

Oklahoma, 9-1 at home, won 30 straight over Baylor before losing three in a row in the series. The Sooners (12-6, 2-4) have bounced back to win the last two matchups.

Jones averaged 22.0 points on 66.7 percent shooting and 7.0 rebounds as these teams split two regular-season meetings in 2010-11. Jones was ruled ineligible just before tip-off of Baylor's 84-67 loss to the Sooners in the Big 12 tournament.

"He can score in so many different ways," first-year Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger said. "He's long and rangy defensively. He rebounds the basketball well. There's just not many players like him."

The Sooners are led by guard Steven Pledger, among the Big 12 leaders with a 17.2 scoring average. Fellow junior Andrew Fitzgerald, a forward, has shown improvement in averaging 15.3 points in conference play.

Oklahoma fell 81-75 in overtime at Texas A&M on Saturday, allowing the Aggies to shoot 52.5 percent.

"To compete successfully and to win Big 12 games, we're still making progress in understanding what that means," Kruger said. "We've got a ways to go in that area."

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