The Red Raiders are coming off a hard-fought win on Thursday (Jan. 8) against the Kansas Jayhawks. The Red Raiders were short-handed and we’re without their two leading scorers, Terrence Shannon Jr. and Kevin McCullar. Both were out due to injury but the team’s suffocating defense lifted them 75-67 over the Jayhawks. Their hard-fought performance did not go unnoticed by the AP rankers, as the team saw a six-point buff moving them to the 19th spot. Their next BIG 12 game for the Red Raiders is on Tuesday (Jan. 11) against the Top-Ranked Baylor Bears.
The Bears last year were the winners of the NCAA Tournament so a lot of high hopes for their team were coming on to this season. The number one-ranked team is 15-0 on the season and has quality wins over No. 14 Villanova and No. 15 Iowa State. The team is led by a combination of four guards who all average double digits in points. The highest average of the guards is senior James Akinjo who averages 14.4 points, 2.5 rebounds, a team-high 6.1 assists and 2.2 steals per game. Guards LJ Cryer, Adam Flagler and Kendall Brown average 13.0, 12.3 and 11.4 points per game respectively. Cryer is the best shooter out of all the three with shooting percentages of 50.0 percent from the field, 61.9 percent from the free-throw line and 46.6 percent from three.
Like Kansas, the Bears thrive on their big-men getting rebounds and getting it to their guards to push the transition and get easy buckets. All the guards for the Bears share the load on rebounds, but junior forward Johnathan Tchamwa-Tchatchoua averages a team-high in rebounds with 7.6. Their half-court offense is designed to penetrate and kick out to open three-point shooters in the corner and wings.
The keys for the Red Raiders would be one, to get Terrence Shannon Jr. and Kevin McCullar back on the floor healthy and contributing to the win streak the team is currently on. Two would be to close out on shooters and know which players to help on the drive and which players for the Bears the team can not leave open. Another key would be to dominate the rebounding category. That was a big factor in why the team was able to beat the Jayhawks so having that mentality transition over will be crucial.
The game is set for 6pm in Waco, Texas. It will be available to be streamed live on ESPN’s main channel. The team needs all the support they can get to help them get another top 10 win on the season. Guns Up!