Tip-off at Ferrell Center is set for a little past 2 PM (ET) with ESPN's cameras on hand to document the action. Baylor started as 5.5 point chalk before that grew to -6; SBR's live NCAA basketball odds will have the total as soon as it's released.
What makes this game must-win for both clubs is the fact each is coming off its second conference defeat of the campaign. To have any hope of catching un undefeated Kansas team at the top of the Big 12 standings for the regular season title, neither the Bears nor the Sooners can afford a third loss at this time...or perhaps at any point between now and March 8.
Oklahoma has a very big advantage in the all-time series with a 39-10 record, but we have to remember the Sooners reeled off 30 consecutive victories over the Bears at one point with Baylor winning five of the last nine. Both matchups last season went to OU on the scoreboard and against the spread, and each contest went 'over' the total.
Online sportsbooks had the Sooners as 6.5 point underdogs in Waco in the first meeting when Oklahoma managed to hold off a late and furious rally for the 74-71 triumph.
Sooners Need Win To Stay In Top 25
Oklahoma (13-4 straight up, 8-7 ATS) managed to push its way into the AP top 25 this week after handing the Iowa State Cyclones their first loss of the season last Saturday in Norman. But no sooner had Lon Kruger's team impressed the voters enough to get the recognition, OU failed to win back-to-back games for the first time since December with a 72-66 setback at Kansas State this past Tuesday.
Kruger does not have a particularly deep roster with only five players appearing in all 17 games for the Sooners. But all five starters are averaging double-digits per performance, led by senior Cameron Clark's 17.3 PPG and that has helped Oklahoma to a 7th-place national ranking in scoring at 85.8 PPG.
Clark, however, was off his game at K-State, scoring just two points on 1-of-9 shooting. Oklahoma converted just 33% of its field goal attempts (22-of-66), a season low, and continuously gave the Wildcats open looks from 3-point range. That is something the Sooners will have to tighten up vs. the Bears who rank 25th in the country hitting 40% of their treys.
Bears Look TO Extend 13-Game Home Winning Streak
Tightening up his defense overall is definitely on the mind of Scott Drew heading into Saturday. Baylor (13-3 SU, 4-6 ATS) is allowing Big 12 opponents to net more than 51% of their field goal attempts so far, and couldn't stop Texas Tech on Wednesday from anywhere on the floor in an 82-72 defeat as 5 point road chalk.
Drew and the Bears are really up against it with their 1-2 start in Big 12, and now comes a tough 7-game stretch bookended by matchups with the Sooners. Between now and Feb. 8 when they travel to Norman for a rematch with the Oklahoma, the Bears have road dates at Kansas and Oklahoma State along with home tilts vs. Texas, West Virginia and the Jayhawks.
Baylor also couldn't buy a bucket from beyond the arc in Lubbock vs. Texas Tech, making just 4-of-20 from outside, its second-worst 3-point shooting performance of the season. Cory Jefferson, Baylor's leading scorer, and the rest of the Bears' frontcourt got into foul trouble early, and center Isaiah Austin was practically invisible during his 22 minutes on the floor with just two boards and all four of his points coming at the free-throw line.
With both teams running hot-&-cold, I'm going to avoid a side pick and wait for the total to be released. Thinking the mark will be around 150, and I'll play the high side for my free ncaa basketball pick, as long as it doesn't go above 156-157.
My pick: Oklahoma-Baylor 'Over'
Season: 20-11 (+7.9)