Skip to content

Unless No. 12 Baylor’s defense improves, they’re not a Big 12 contender

Jan 16, 2014, 12:36 AM EDT

Baylor  v Texas Tech

Jaye Crockett led five players in double figures with 19 points for Texas Tech as the Red Raiders blew out No. 12 Baylor at home.

The final score was 82-72, but trust me when I tell you, that doesn’t do the beatdown justice. It took 30 minutes for the Bears to show up on Wednesday night, and by then they were already down 20 points. Tech was up 43-22 at the half, having held Baylor to 7-for-27 shooting. Baylor didn’t have an assist in the first 20 minutes.

Tubby Smith’s boys deserve all the credit in the world. They came out and simply out-worked the Bears. Baylor looked half-asleep in the first half, which is something that can happen on the road in league play, and the Red Raiders took advantage.

But the bigger concern for Baylor is that this may not have simply been a bad outing.

The Bears haven’t done much of anything since beating Kentucky on December 6th. Part of that was their schedule. Like any other coach in the country, Scott Drew went ahead and put together a December full of cupcakes. The Bears had beaten Colorado and Kentucky and finished in second place in the Maui Invitational in November, looking every bit the part of a top 15 team that could compete for the Big 12.

But during that month long sabbatical from quality competition, the Bears seem to have lost their rhythm. They were run off the floor at Iowa State last week, with nothing but a blowout home win over TCU in between the two losses.

Here’s the question I have: can their issues actually be corrected? The concerns for Baylor entering the season were in their back court, but Kenny Chery has been a revelation while Brady Heslip is back to being one of the nation’s most fearsome snipers. Throw in the recent performances from Taurean Prince, and the Bears have plenty of weapons on the perimeter.

The issue is that Baylor’s front line was supposed to be one of the best in the country, but it has disappointed all season long. Isaiah Austin is a better shot-blocker than he was as a freshman, but the rest of his numbers are significantly down from a year ago. Cory Jefferson is still doing what he does, but he’s at his best in a complimentary role. He’s not a focal point as a low-post scorer, he’s a rebounder that will throw down a couple of thunderous dunks a night.

What’s worse is that despite having those two — plus one of the nation’s best rebounders in Rico Gathers — the Bears are still getting waxed on the defensive glass. I get it, they play a lot of zone and rebounding is difficult to do out of a zone, but it’s still unacceptable for the nation’s second-best offensive-rebounding team to fail to corral more than 32% of the available defensive rebounds.

In fact, the Bears simply are not a good defensive team. Before giving up 82 points to Texas Tech, they ranked outside the top 100 in defensive efficiency, according to Kenpom. They don’t force turnovers, they can’t end possessions by getting defensive rebounds, and they’re struggling to defend the three this season.

Unless the Bears make some serious strides on the defensive end of the floor, this quite simply is not a team that can be put in the same sentence as Kansas, Oklahoma State and Iowa State.

Latest Posts
  1. Updated tournament records: Big Ten, SEC champions headed to Indy

    Mar 29, 2015, 12:50 AM EDT

    AP Photo AP

    ACC teams went 2-1 Friday night, with Louisville’s win over NC State being the league’s lone defeat.

  2. Sam Dekker, Frank Kaminsky catch fire as No. 1 Wisconsin beats No. 2 Arizona

    Mar 28, 2015, 8:35 PM EDT

    AP Photo AP Photo

    Dekker scored 20 of his 27 points in the second half at Wisconsin beat Arizona in the Elite Eight for the second straight year.

  3. Frank Kaminsky dances his way to the Final Four (VIDEO)

    Mar 28, 2015, 8:34 PM EDT

    Arizona v Wisconsin Getty Images

    Frank got a little funky after Wisconsin’s win over Arizona.

  4. Rick Barnes is no longer the head coach at Texas

    Mar 28, 2015, 6:05 PM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    Barnes coached at Texas for 17 seasons.

  5. Arrests made as Michigan State fans gather, set fires near off-campus apartments after Sweet 16 win (VIDEO)

    Mar 28, 2015, 3:45 PM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    Some Michigan State students got a little too rowdy following a win over Oklahoma.

  6. Reports: The Citadel hires VMI head coach Duggar Baucom for same position

    Mar 28, 2015, 1:48 PM EDT

    Duggar Baucom AP

    The Citadel hired away the head coach of a Southern Conference rival.

  7. Houston Rockets GM Daryl Morey on college hoops: ‘It’s absolute torture watching some of these games’ (AUDIO)

    Mar 28, 2015, 1:00 PM EDT

    Houston Rockets Draft Picks Press Conference Getty Images

    Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey had some strong words on the current state of college basketball.

  8. Frank Kaminsky’s growth results in individual and team benefits for No. 1 Wisconsin

    Mar 28, 2015, 12:17 PM EDT

    AP Photo AP Photo

    Frank Kaminsky’s path to stardom may not follow that of last year’s national Player of the Year winner, Doug McDermott, but it’s one that many players hope to navigate during their own time in school.

  9. Tom Izzo blames himself, new Will Ferrell/Kevin Hart movie on Michigan State’s sluggish Sweet 16 start

    Mar 28, 2015, 10:55 AM EDT

    (AP) AP

    Michigan State might have been the only people in the country watching “Get Hard” on Friday afternoon.

  10. Former oddsmaker believes Kentucky would be underdog against all-time great college basketball teams

    Mar 28, 2015, 9:40 AM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    Kentucky might finish the 2014-15 season unblemished, but how do they stack up against some of the best teams in college basketball history?

  11. Tourney Snacks: Duke-Gonzaga, Louisville-Michigan State advance to Elite 8

    Mar 28, 2015, 12:52 AM EDT

    Justise Winslow (Getty Images) Getty Images

    Get caught up on all of Friday’s NCAA tournament action.

  12. Tip times, announcer pairings and channel guide for 2015 Elite 8

    Mar 28, 2015, 12:27 AM EDT

    Quinn Cook AP

    The schedule for Sunday’s Elite 8 games.

  13. No. 1 Duke advances to Elite 8 with win over No. 5 Utah

    Mar 28, 2015, 12:08 AM EDT

    (AP) AP

    No. 1 Duke advanced to the Elite 8 with a win in the South Regional over No. 5 Utah.

  14. Bradley announces Brian Wardle hired as head coach

    Mar 27, 2015, 9:58 PM EDT

    AP Photo AP Photo

    Wardle spent five seasons as coach at Green Bay.