The Baylor Bears entered the season unranked with a tough non-conference schedule. Taking down then No. 4 Oregon, others began to take notice. However, the Bears were just getting started. Securing four wins over top 25 programs (three of those coming against top ten opponents) over an eight game stretch vaulted Baylor to the top of the rankings. Currently sitting at No. 4 in the nation, the Bears have looked might impressive. They’ll put their 12-0 record on the line by heading to Norman to face the Oklahoma Sooners.
Here are three things to know about what Baylor brings to the table.
Through the first 12 games of the season, the Bears have shown a desire to involve teammates in the action. The ingredient continues to lead Baylor to a winning recipe behind 18.3 assists per game which ranks 18th in the nation. Leading the way, Manu Lecomte dishes out 5.4 assists per game. Yet two others average three or better including senior Ishmail Wainwright.
Defense Reigns Supreme
On the other end of the court, Baylor has proven to be one of the nation’s top scoring defenses. Since 2008, the squad from Waco has traditionally relied heavily on offense prowess. Yet, in 2012 something changed as the defense began to play at a higher level. That trend has continued with a few ups and downs into the 2016-17 season. Deploying a 1-3-1 zone while rarely missing rotations, the Bears have allowed opponents to score a mere 58.7 points per game. The mark ranks 9th in the nation and provides easy opportunities to secure win after win. But, it doesn’t mean Baylor can’t play man-to-man when the time calls for it.
Multiple Scoring Options
This year’s squad may be averaging just shy of 80 points per game but it’s not due to a lack of scoring options. With numerous player capable of scoring the ball from various positions on the floor, Baylor looks to be difficult to defend. Of course 6-10 forward Johnathan Motley leads the way behind 16 points per game. But, he’s followed by 6-3 guard Al Freeman’s 12.6 average. Currently both players are shooting over 50% from the floor while Freeman is hitting on over 47% of his attempts from beyond the arc.
Adding to the number, Lecompte pours in 11.6 points per game making him one of the most dangerous players on the floor. Not only can Lecomte facilitate in the offense but the kid can score on top of it all. Certain last but not least is none other than Jo Lual-Acuil Jr. who connects on a team high 62.4% of his attempts from the floor. Needless to say, this quartet makes up one of the better scoring units in the conference this year.
The game is set to air on ESPN2 at 6:00 PM in Norman, Oklahoma. If the Oklahoma Sooners are looking for a resume builder, there is no better option than this early in conference play. On the flip side, if the Bears are hoping to make a case for best in the league, a loss here hurts significantly.