Baylor has a chance to accomplish something Tuesday night that no Big 12 team has ever done.
Heading into their game at Oklahoma in Norman, Okla., the No. 1 Bears have won 22 games in a row, tying them with 1996-97 Kansas for the longest winning streak in conference history.
“We’ve got a great group of guys, and I think the sky’s the limit for us,” Baylor’s Jared Butler said. “We just try to win the next game, that’s it. Go 1-0.”
The Bears (23-1, 12-0 Big 12) have done a lot of that this season, but they haven’t been overly dominant much of the time.
During the winning streak, 10 games have been decided by single digits, including six of Baylor’s 12 conference wins.
The Bears keep finding ways to win, including in the Jan. 20 home meeting with the Sooners that was played the same day Baylor moved to the top spot in the polls.
Baylor outlasted Oklahoma 61-57 after the Sooners’ Kristian Doolittle’s steal with 12 seconds left gave Oklahoma a chance to tie or take the lead. Austin Reaves’ 3-pointer missed, Baylor got the rebound and hit the ensuing free throws to put the game away.
Oklahoma (16-9, 6-6) is in the midst of its toughest stretch of the season, playing four of five games against teams that have been in the polls recently. The Sooners started that stretch with a 17-point loss at Kansas on Saturday, and while they’re in strong position to make the NCAA Tournament, they could use another marquee win or two to solidify their place and improve their seeding.
“This team will continue to get better,” Sooners coach Lon Kruger said. “We know how good Baylor is. We look forward to that challenge.”
While Brady Manek struggled Saturday, scoring just seven points and going just 1 of 6 from behind the 3-point line against Kansas, the Sooners’ junior wing has been hot at home recently.
In Oklahoma’s last four games in Norman (not including the team’s win over Mississippi State on Jan. 25 in Oklahoma City), Manek is averaging 22.5 points, hitting 5.3 3-pointers, plus seven rebounds per game.
Doolittle has played a big part in Oklahoma’s recent success, snapping out of a midseason slump to average 24.7 points and 10.0 rebounds over the last three games.
The Bears are hoping to get back MaCio Teague after he missed Saturday’s win over West Virginia with a wrist injury. Teague scored 16 points in the first meeting with the Sooners.
“It’s a situation where we’re waiting for the inflammation to go down and waiting for him to be able to be effective,” Baylor coach Scott Drew said of Teague. “He’s one of our tougher kids. … We’ll see how he progresses. When he’s ready and he can help us, he’ll be back out there.”
Teague is the Bears’ second-leading scorer, averaging 14.4 points per game.
A Baylor win Saturday would set up likely the biggest regular-season game in school history, with the Bears hosting No. 3 Kansas on Saturday. If Baylor can win both games this week, it would virtually assure the Bears of the regular-season conference title.
Baylor hasn’t won a conference championship since 1950 and hasn’t won one outright since 1948.
–Field Level Media