Five. Straight. Conference Losses.
You don’t need to know much more about Texas Tech’s season to realize that this is a pivotal game. A loss to a suddenly-hot Baylor team will put the Red Raiders in a situation where they need to be perfect to make the NCAA Tournament. A win against the Bears will not save Tech’s season, but it puts them in a situation where more ranked wins could get them back in the tournament race. More importantly, it would get their confidence back and provide hope that this season is salvageable.
Where: United Supermarkets Arena (Lubbock, Texas)
When: 8:00 P.M. CST
Odds: Texas Tech -2, 144
Three players to watch
The five-star freshman has added to a star-studded backcourt from last year and made it even more dynamic. George is shooting 35% from three, is averaging 17 points per game, and is averaging over three assists while playing a lot off the ball. George has added another potent self-creator to the Baylor offense and might be the single most talented player in the Big 12 this season.
Flagler played one season at Presbyterian, then waited his turn behind MaCio Teague, Jared Butler, and Davion Mitchell. Now, Flagler has the keys for the Baylor offense and has been doing an incredible job for the second straight year. Flagler has probably the deepest range in the Big 12, and he’s shooting a ridiculous 47% from three this season. His playmaking is also really good as well, as he’s averaging over five assists compared to only 1.7 turnovers per game. Defensively, Flagler is not great, but his offensive value and gravity make him one of the most underrated players nationally.
Cryer is another elite shooter in the Baylor backcourt. The 6’1 junior was off to a hot start before injury last season, and he’s picked up where he left off. He’s shooting 37% from three on high volume, and his shots have come from a steady variety of off-ball looks as well as some difficult pull-up looks. Cryer’s playmaking is not as refined as the other Baylor guards, but he’s still a dangerous guard that can get hot at any moment.
What They’re Good At
Shooting: Baylor’s guards are all elite shooters, and overall the Bears are shooting over 36% from three. They space the floor well, hit difficult shots, and move the ball well. That’s a great recipe for a great offensive team.
Offensive rebounding: Baylor is 12th in OREB% and has collected boards at over a 29% clip on that end in every Big 12 game. The Bears are really good at getting tip-outs and resetting for three, so if Tech doesn’t box out it will likely lead to tough offensive sets to defend again.
Sharing the ball: As I said earlier- Baylor moves the ball extremely well. They are top 15 in assist rate, and generate a ton of open CnS looks for all of their guards in addition to Jalen Bridges.
Final thought: Tech comes into this game needing a win, and with the amount of offensive firepower that Baylor has it’s not ideal to have them as a possible game to get right. The last time the Bears came to Lubbock was a high point in a great season for the Red Raiders, but this season Tech needs a win just to avoid a total meltdown. I don’t feel comfortable predicting this in the slightest, but my gut tells me the good guys pull this one off, if for no other reason than me not wanting to imagine the fallout from an 0-6 start.
Final Prediction: Texas Tech 77-71 Baylor