Oklahoma-Baylor Preview

The Associated Press

Baylor's defense simply hasn't been good enough in a pair of Big 12 losses to open its conference road slate, and its most recent effort left one of its starters questioning his team's hunger to win.

The 12th-ranked Bears shouldn't have to search for much motivation with No. 25 Oklahoma visiting Waco.

Swept by the Sooners a season ago, Baylor tries to bounce back from its latest unimpressive performance Saturday by extending its home winning streak to 14.

Baylor (13-3, 1-2) has won its nine home games this season by an average of 20.6 points, holding opponents to 62.4 points per game on 37.7 percent shooting.

But the Bears' toughest competition at home was either Louisiana or Oral Roberts, and although they've faced Syracuse and Kentucky at neutral sites, their first two true road games haven't gone well.

Baylor allowed then-No. 9 Iowa State to shoot 54.8 percent in an 87-72 loss Jan. 7, and after routing TCU at home last Saturday let Texas Tech shoot 57.1 percent while falling 82-72 in Lubbock on Wednesday.

The Bears trailed 43-22 at halftime against the Red Raiders and were outrebounded 35-29 after coming in with a plus-11.3 margin - one of the nation's best.

''We just felt like they (were) hungrier than us,'' said guard Kenny Chery, who scored 22 points. ''We didn't come out with the composure to win the basketball game and they came out like it was the last game of their life.''

Leading scorer Cory Jefferson was held to eight points after scoring just seven in the loss to the Cyclones. Center Isaiah Austin had four points and went 0 for 6 from the field, while sharpshooter Brady Heslip missed all five of his 3-point attempts.

"It's really disappointing," Chery said. "Going down to Iowa State we had a short-term memory, then we came back against TCU and won a big game, and then came back tonight and had a disappointing loss. Like I said, they were hungrier than us and that is something we have to fix ... and get ready for Oklahoma."

Coach Scott Drew shouldn't have to remind his team how it was handled by the Sooners (13-4, 2-2) last season. Oklahoma built a 12-point halftime lead before holding on for a 74-71 win in Waco on Jan. 30, then outscored the Bears 47-21 in the first half in a 90-76 victory in Norman on Feb. 23.

Heslip said after the second meeting he "was not ready to go from the jump."

Cameron Clark totaled nine points in 32 minutes off the bench in those two wins for the Sooners, but the senior forward is now Oklahoma's leading scorer at 17.3 points per game.

Clark, however, couldn't solve Kansas State's defense on the road Tuesday. He had just two points on 1-of-9 shooting in the Sooners' 72-66 loss, and was stripped of the ball with 24.5 seconds left with his team down three.

''Cam just has to let it go,'' coach Lon Kruger said. ''We're in Big 12 play and people are going to point to him and target him. He's just got to stay aggressive. He turned down some shots early and tried to get closer. Those are shots that he shoots really well."

Baylor is 13-0 when holding opponents under 50 percent, and though Oklahoma is the conference's top-scoring team at 85.8 points per game, it's shooting just 40.8 percent in dropping three of its last six.

The Bears, shooting just 42.2 percent in Big 12 play, should be able to get Jefferson, Heslip and Austin going Saturday. Oklahoma is 322nd in the nation in scoring defense, allowing 78.8 points per game.

Austin had 19 points and a career-high 20 boards in Baylor's home loss to the Sooners.

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