Here is everything you need to know about the Texas Longhorns and the Baylor Bears in our Texas vs. Baylor Big 12 men’s basketball preview.
11 a.m. Central Time, Saturday, Feb. 12, 2022, Ferrell Center, Waco, Texas.
Records: Texas: 18-6 (7-4 in Big 12); Baylor: 20-4 (8-3 in Big 12);
Ranking: Texas: No. 20 (Associated Press); Baylor: No. 10 (Associated Press)
Last game: Texas: def. Kansas, 79-76 (Feb. 7); Baylor: def. Kansas State, 75-60 (Feb. 9).
Previous meeting: First meeting this season. The two teams will meet again in Austin on Feb. 28.
F Timmy Allen: Allen can be a bit inconsistent at times, but when he’s on, he’s ON. His 24 points against Kansas on Monday night propelled the Longhorns to a home victory over the Jayhawks. It also propelled his scoring average to nearly 12 points per game. He also leads the Longhorns with 6.6 rebounds per game. Other interior players are coming on, including Christian Bishop. But Allen is Texas’ No. 1 option inside.
G Courtney Ramey: If I’m head coach Chris Beard and I’m looking for a 3-pointer, I’m looking for Ramey. While Ramey, Andrew Jones and Marcus Carr all have at least 30 made 3-pointer this season, Ramey has the best rate of return — 37.1 percent. His team-high 30 steals makes him the Longhorns’ most dangerous perimeter defender, too.
F Tre Mitchell: Mitchell had himself a game against Kansas, scoring 17 points and playing his best game in at least a month. He showed he has the ability to stretch defenses out of the paint against the Jayhawks. He averages nine points and four rebounds per game. He’s come off the bench the past couple of games, and that might be his best role right now. He needs one point to reach 1,000 points for his college career.
G James Akinjo: He bounced back nicely from his 0-for-11 game against Kansas, scoring 15 points for the Bears against Kansas State on Wednesday. So long as LJ Cryer is on the shelf, he must carry a heavier scoring load. He’s now averaging 13 points per game and has 123 assists, with eight against K-State.
G Dale Bonner: Clearly, the return of Adam Flagler has helped the Division II transfer. With Flagler on the floor and scoring 10 points, Bonner has his best game yet as a Bear, scoring nine points on 3-of-4 shooting while grabbing three rebounds and dishing out four assists. It’s not an easy ramp-up from D-II to D-I. Once Cryer is back, this experience is going to make Bonner a bigger contributor come March.
F Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua: ‘Everyday John’ had 21 points against Kansas State. That was a team high. It’s not the sort of scoring that we’re used to seeing out of him, but the Bears will take every ounce of offense it can get right now. He also had six rebounds. He’s now averaging 8.6 points per game.
The Longhorns have now won five of their last six, with the only loss coming to Texas Tech in Lubbock. The win over Kansas may not mean much in the grand scheme of the Big 12 regular-season title — Kansas still has two games on the Longhorns — but the victory put Texas in a third-place tie with Texas Tech, which lost to Oklahoma, and one game back of Baylor. Texas still has another game with Tech, Baylor and Kansas after Saturday, so there’s a chance it can play its way into the No. 2 seed in the Big 12 Tournament. As for this brutal stretch against ranked teams, the Longhorns are 3-1 since the Tennessee game. Not bad at all for a team whose chemistry looked off as late as three weeks ago.
The defending national champions have been alternating between wins and losses for two weeks now, and it’s no secret why. Guard LJ Cryer, their best 3-point shooter, meant quite a bit more to the Bears than one would have assumed a sophomore would. Because he hits at a high percentage and is reliable, it takes pressure off the rest of the team. But he’s been out the last four games. The Bears’ last two wins have been against West Virginia and Kansas State. Their last two losses have been against Alabama and Kansas. The connection isn’t hard to make. Cryer makes them a high-level contender. With four more games against ranked teams, the Bears need him, or they risk falling out of one of the Top 2 seeds in the Big 12 Tournament.
Texas has a 163-94 all-time record against Baylor.
Texas 78, Baylor 75. Texas is the hotter team right now, so I’m rolling with them. But if the Bears get LJ Cryer back for this game, he can make a difference, though.
You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard.