Here is everything you need to know about the Baylor Bears and the Oklahoma Sooners in our Baylor vs. Oklahoma Big 12 Tournament men’s basketball preview.
No. 2 Baylor (26-5, 14-4) vs. No. 7 Oklahoma (17-14, 7-11), 6 p.m. CT, ESPN/2
Season series (Baylor 2-0): Baylor def. Kansas State, 73-67, in Manhattan, Kan., on Feb. 3; Baylor def. Kansas State, 85-66, in Waco, Texas, on Feb. 25.
Winner gets: a Friday semifinal game against either the winner of Game 5 at 8:30 p.m. CT on Friday.
Projected starting lineups
Baylor: G James Akinjo, G/F Kendall Brown, G Adam Flagler, F Flo Thamba, F Matthew Mayer.
Oklahoma: G Umjoa Gibson, F Tanner Groves, G Jordan Goldwire, F Jalen Hill, F Jacob Groves.
Player to watch
Baylor G Adam Flagler: Flagler was name to the Heartland College Sports Big 12 First Team and to the All-Big 12 Coaches’ Second Team. Flagler averaged 13.8 points and three assists per game and shot 40.7 percent from the 3-point line. But his play down the stretch helped the Bears win a share with the Big 12 regular-season title. Flagler scored at least 13 points in each of the Bears’ final six games. Plus, he connected on 22 3-pointers in that span. If anyone is going to beat you from distance, it’s going to beat Flagler.
Oklahoma F Tanner Groves: It hasn’t been the easiest of seasons for the Sooners transfer, but when he’s on, the Sooners are probably winning. After averaging 12.4 points and 5.5 rebounds per game, Groves earned All-Big 12 Honorable Mention honors from the coaches. Groves has surged during the Sooners’ three-game winning streak to end the regular season, putting together a pair of double-doubles against Oklahoma State and West Virginia. If Groves can stay out of foul trouble, he can play nearly 30 minutes and give the Sooners all the offense it needs inside.
Baylor: For the second straight year, the Bears are the Big 12 regular-season champions (this time they’re sharing it with Kansas). The Bears won their final five games of the season as Kansas faltered a bit. While the Bears and Jayhawks finished Big 12 play tied, it was Baylor being swept by Texas Tech that put the Bears on the No. 2 seed line in the Big 12 Tournament. The Bears weren’t able to finish the job last season, losing in the semifinals. This year, Scott Drew and the Bears want to win the title.
Oklahoma: The Sooners’ first season under head coach Porter Moser has certainly been up-and-down. At one point a ‘safe’ bracketology team, the Sooners received a huge dose of reality in Big 12 action. From Jan. 11 to Feb. 22, the Sooners won just two games, one of which was a nice upset of Texas Tech in Norman. After that, with their backs against the wall, the Sooners managed to win their final three games of the regular-season to put themselves back in the running for the NCAA Tournament. But the Sooners will need more help than that.
The Bears are a Top 2 seed in the Big 12 Tournament for the third straight season. The Bears had never been a Top 2 seed before the 2020 Big 12 Tournament.
Baylor 81, Oklahoma 67. The Bears are a tightly-wound rotation of seven players with incredibly good chemistry and enough defense to keep the Sooners at bay.
You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard.