Nearing the end of the first half of their game against Kansas on Wednesday, Baylor was up 29-22 and were looking like they actually belonged at the top of the Big 12 standings with Kansas and Missouri.
Then, Kansas ended the game on a 46-25 run and blew the soft-looking Bears out of their own gym. Order was restored in the minds of Jayhawk fans and Baylor was left clinging to a slim thread of Big 12 title dreams.
Coming off that tough loss to Kansas, Baylor will have to regain focus and make one of their toughest road trips of the season, traveling to Columbia to face Missouri at Mizzou Arena.
In the first meeting of these teams that occured in Waco, we were treated to one of the best Big 12 games of the year. The pace was frenetic and both offenses were on fire, but in the end it was Missouri that stole a road win, 89-88.
With their Big 12 title dreams dwindling quickly, the Bears will go against a team that beat them at home and a team that has had 4-5 days of rest and preparation leading up to this game. Can they regain their composure from being blown out at home and find a way to beat a team that is riding high?
With the reemergence of Marcus Denmon as his old self for Missouri, Baylor will need to be extremely efficient on offense to stay with the Tigers. The last meeting between these two was exciting, but wasn't really an accurate picture of how these two teams play.
Baylor has problems with turnovers (228th in TO%) and Missouri is great at forcing them (34th), but Baylor can also shoot the lights out from anywhere on the floor, and the Tigers have had some problem with defense in recent weeks.
We all know about the size disadvantage that is going to be a big issue in this one. If Missouri can't rebound well enough as a team, that would give Baylor's efficient offense more chances to score and could spell trouble for the Tigers.
With that said, even with their size Baylor is terrible on the offensive glass (224th in opposing offensive rebounds allowed) and the Tigers were able to exploit that in their last meeting, grabbing 12 offensive boards even though they only missed 25 field goals.
This game is going to come down to Missouri's offense against Baylor's zone defense. The Bears have good numbers on the defensive end, but the Tigers are one of most efficient offenses in the country and can give any kind of defense fits (see the Kansas game). In the last game against Baylor, Missouri shot 55 percent from the floor and broke down the zone with relative ease.
Has Baylor's defense figured out another way to stop the multifaceted attack of Missouri? Will Baylor be able to slow Missouri enough to get their points inside and steal a road win?
I can't see Baylor recovering quickly enough to get a big road win, especially with the way they have played since the first Missouri game (one bad loss to Kansas, one almost loss to Texas at home, near road losses to A&M and Oklahoma St.). The Tigers are just riding too high and they can't lose at home. I've got Missouri in this one, 82-72.