Sooners travel to Waco, Texas, for third road contest in the last four games.
||Freshman guard Buddy Hield
In a three-way tie for third place in the Big 12, Oklahoma (13-5, 4-2) plays its second straight road game and third in its last four when it travels to take on Baylor on Wednesday at 6 p.m. CT inside the Ferrell Center in Waco, Texas. The Sooners are coming off a 67-54 loss at now-No. 2 Kansas on Saturday but have won six of their last eight. Wednesday's game will be their 11th away from home versus just eight in Norman. Baylor, which trails Kansas by 1.5 games in the league race with a 5-1 record, is 9-2 at home this year and is coming off an 82-56 win at TCU on Saturday.
ON THE AIR
Wednesday's contest will air on the Sooner Radio Network (KOKC 1520 AM in Oklahoma City; KTBZ 1430 AM in Tulsa) with Toby Rowland and Mike Houck announcing. The game will be televised nationally by ESPNU with Mitch Holthus and Matt Doherty calling the action.
FIVE THINGS TO KNOW
• Oklahoma is 37-10 all-time against Baylor and is 16-5 in Waco. However, the Bears have won five of the last seven overall meetings (following a 30-game OU winning streak) and the last three in Waco.
• The Sooners have played 10 games away from home and just eight in Norman. The eight home games are tied with Florida and Mississippi State for the fewest among the 75 teams in the six "power" conferences (ACC, Big East, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12 and SEC). In fact, through Monday, 69 of the 75 teams from those six leagues have played at least 10 home games.
• Freshman Buddy Hield and senior Steven Pledger lead OU by averaging 26.1 minutes per game. Each of Baylor's five starters average more playing time per contest than Hield or Pledger. Pierre Jackson averages 33.4 minutes a game for the Bears and is followed by Isaiah Austin (30.9), Cory Jefferson (28.5), A.J. Walton (27.1) and Brady Heslip (26.3). A Big 12-high nine Sooners average more than 15.0 minutes per game on the season.
• Senior forward Romero Osby has shot 50 percent or better in 10 of the last 11 games and during the 11-game stretch is averaging 16.5 points on .550 shooting. In Big 12 play, Osby ranks second in the league with his 18.0 scoring average and .507 field goal mark, and has led OU in scoring in all six games. On the season, Osby's 22.6 points per 40 minutes ranks first in the Big 12.
• Wednesday's game at Baylor is OU's fourth during a six-game stretch that includes four road contests and four matchups against teams ranked in this week's AP top-25 (two games each against No. 2 Kansas and No. 18 Kansas State).
| Sooner to Watch
Amath M'Baye | Jr. | Forward
• Scored a team-high-tying 12 points two of the last three games and 15 points in the other
• Averaging 12.3 points and 5.3 rebounds over the last eight contests
• Ranks third on the team with 10.2 points and second with 5.6 rebounds per game
• Has scored in double figures in six of the last eight outings
• After posting a 9-4 non-conference record, Baylor has begun Big 12 play with a 5-1 mark and is 1.5 games behind Kansas. The Bears are 9-2 at home, with four-point defeats at the hands of College of Charleston and Northwestern. They have won their conference home games over Texas (86-79 in OT), TCU (51-40) and Oklahoma State (64-54).
• In Big 12 play, Baylor leads the league in scoring margin (+11.8 ppg), scoring defense (56.3 ppg), 3-point field goal percentage (.384), 3-point field goal percentage defense (.241) and blocked shots (6.0 bpg). It ranks second in field goal percentage defense (.362).
• Preseason Big 12 Player of the Year Pierre Jackson leads the league with his 18.7 points per game and ranks fourth in conference action with his 16.8 scoring average. He also ranks second in the Big 12 on the season in assists (5.9), third in 3-pointers per game (2.4), fourth in steals (1.7), sixth in free throw percentage (.800) and seventh in 3-point field goal percentage (.373). The senior guard has scored in double figures in 26 straight games going back to last year and has netted at least 20 points seven times this season. Jackson averaged 18.5 points in two wins against the Sooners last year.
• Center Isaiah Austin ranks second among Big 12 freshmen with his 14.5 points per game and leads all league rookies with his 8.8 rebounds per contest (ranks second overall). He also ranks second in the league with his .502 field goal mark. A McDonald's All-American last year (high school teammate of OU's Je'lon Hornbeak), Austin has seven double-doubles to rank second in the Big 12.
• Junior forward Corey Jefferson averages 12.8 points and team highs of 8.4 rebounds and 2.3 blocks per game while shooting a team-best .592 from the field. He has six double-doubles on the year.
• Scott Drew is in his 10th year as Baylor's head coach and owns a 169-129 (.567) record at the school.
LAST YEAR VS. THE BEARS
Baylor won both meetings last year, 77-65 Jan. 24 in Norman and 70-60 Feb. 25 in Waco. In the first contest, OU trailed the No. 6 Bears by just two, 62-60, but was outscored 13-5 over the final four minutes. For the game, Baylor shot .540 from the field, .500 (9-for-18) from 3-point range and .824 (14-for-17) from the free throw line. It shot .640 from the field after halftime (16-for-25) and hit four of its five field goal attempts during its 13-5 game-ending run. Perry Jones led Baylor with 21 points and 12 rebounds while Pierre Jackson added 16 points and seven turnovers (was 3-for-4 from 3-point range). Steven Pledger led OU in scoring, finishing with 17 points on 7-for-15 field goal and 3-for-9 3-point shooting. He added six rebounds and four assists. Romero Osby recorded 16 points and a team-high 11 rebounds.
In the rematch, Oklahoma led 34-31 at halftime over the No. 13 Bears and was down by just one (49-48) with nine minutes left, but was outscored 21-12 down the stretch of the 10-point road loss. The Sooners lost despite holding Baylor to .389 field goal shooting and posting a slight 37-36 rebounding advantage. The Bears finished with a 24-point advantage from 3-point range, going 8-for-23 from behind the arc while OU was 0-for-12. It marked the first time in 511 games (Dec. 23, 2006, at Memphis) that the Sooners went without a 3-point make. Jackson paced Baylor with 18 points (4-for-6 3-point shooting) and Brady Heslip added 16 (4-for-9 from long distance). Pledger scored a game-high 21 points on 8-for-17 shooting. He was 0-for-5 from 3-point range but 8-for-12 from inside the arc. Osby and Cameron Clark added 12 points each.
OU-BAYLOR SERIES HISTORY
Oklahoma owns a 37-10 series advantage against Baylor and has won 32 of the last 37 meetings (including a streak of 30 straight wins that was snapped three years ago). The Sooners possess a 16-5 series lead in games played in Waco, but have lost three straight there after 16 consecutive wins. OU is 28-5 against the Bears since the inception of the Big 12 Conference (13-3 at the Ferrell Center).
OKLAHOMA TEAM UPDATE
• As of Tuesday, Oklahoma is ranked 23rd out of 347 Division I teams in the CBSSports.com RPI (second best in Big 12 behind No. 2 Kansas), with a strength of schedule ranked No. 13. OU is projected by Joe Lunardi and ESPN.com as a No. 10 NCAA Tournament seed in this week's "Bracketology" report.
• This marks the ninth time in the 17-year history of the Big 12 Conference that the Sooners have started with at least a 4-2 league record. OU also had strong six-game starts in 1998 (5-1), 1999 (4-2), 2000 (4-2), 2002 (4-2), 2003 (5-1), 2005 (6-0), 2006 (4-2) and 2009 (6-0). The Sooners participated in the NCAA Tournament in each of those eight seasons.
• Three of the Sooners' five losses have come to teams ranked in this week's AP top-25 (No. 2 Kansas, No. 7 Gonzaga and No. 18 Kansas State own a combined 52-7 record). The other two came by a combined four points. OU lost by three at Arkansas (led by one with 15 seconds remaining) and by one to Stephen F. Austin (the Lumberjacks are 16-2 on the year and lead the nation in scoring defense).
• OU has already won as many games away from home this year (6-4 record) as it did over the last two seasons combined (6-25 record). The Sooners will play at least seven more games away from Lloyd Noble Center this year (including Wednesday at Baylor).
• In Big 12 play, Oklahoma leads the league in free throw percentage (.763) while ranking second in scoring offense (68.7 ppg) and offensive rebounding percentage (.354), and third in field goal percentage (.442).
• Oklahoma is 6-2 this year in games decided by seven points or fewer. Last year the Sooners finished 4-5 under the circumstance.
• The Sooners have shot at least .727 from the free throw line in eight of the last 10 games and are shooting a combined .792 in those 10 outings. They have outscored their last 10 opponents by a total of 51 points at the line. In conference games, OU is shooting a league-high .763 from the charity stripe. OU owns the Big 12's top two free throw performances of the year (.947 vs. Texas A&M and .938 vs. Texas A&M-Corpus Christi).
• In its three Big 12 home games, OU is giving up 5.7 3-pointers per game (six by Oklahoma State, five by Texas Tech and five by Texas). In its three league road games, it is surrendering an average of 9.3 makes (11 at West Virginia, 10 at Kansas State and seven at Kansas).
• The Sooners are getting outscored by 11.0 points per game from 3-point range in Big 12 play. Thirty-nine percent of opponents' field goal attempts have come from 3-point range while only 20 percent of OU's attempts have come from behind the arc. Conversely, the Sooners have made 128 two-point field goals in conference play while opponents have made 93.
• OU returned its top six scorers and 88 percent of its point production from last season, but in Big 12 play this year newcomers rank second, third, sixth and ninth in scoring average. The team's four newcomers have accounted for 42 percent of OU's league points (173 of 412).
OU PLAYERS UPDATE
• Senior forward Romero Osby leads OU in scoring (14.4 ppg), rebounding (6.4 rpg) and field goal percentage (.506) in just 25.5 minutes a contest. Projected to 40 minutes, he is averaging a Big 12-best 22.6 points to go along with 10.1 rebounds. He ranks second in the Big 12 (league play only) with his 18.0 points per game (Kansas State's Rodney McGruder averages 18.7) and his .507 field goal percentage. Osby has shot 50 percent or better from the field in 10 of the last 11 games (was 4-for-16 Saturday at Kansas). Also over those 11 outings, Osby is shooting .862 from the free throw line (56-for-65) and made 36 in a row (one shy of school record). He has led the team (or tied for lead) in scoring in all six conference outings, including a career-high 29 point effort against Texas two games ago.
• Senior guard Steven Pledger averages 10.9 points in a team-high-tying 26.1 minutes a game (lowest minutes average by a Big 12 player who leads his team). He ranks fifth in the conference with his 2.1 treys per contest and eighth with his .366 3-point percentage. The league's leading returning scorer from last year (16.2 ppg), Pledger has scored in double figures in 10 of the last 11 outings. He is tied with Tim Heskett for third in school history with 215 3-point makes.
• Preseason Big 12 Rookie of the Year Amath M'Baye is a two-time league rookie of the week (Nov. 26 and Dec. 31). Over the last eight games (six wins), he is averaging 12.3 points (on team-high .534 field goal shooting) and 5.3 rebounds. The junior forward, who is averaging 10.2 points and 5.6 rebounds on the year to rank third and second on the team, respectively, has scored in double figures in six of the last eight games and is averaging 13.0 points over the last three.
• Freshman guard Buddy Hield, who ranks fourth on the team with his 9.4 points, third with his 4.7 rebounds and second with his 2.1 assists, has been even better in Big 12 play with averages of 11.3 points, 5.7 boards and team-high 3.7 assists. Hield has started the last eight games after coming off the bench the first 10. He owns the team's highest single-game totals in rebounds (11 vs. Stephen F. Austin), assists (7 vs. Ohio) and steals (4 vs. Ohio) on the year. He has led the team in minutes in four of the last five outings and is averaging 33.2 minutes over those five games.
• Freshman guard Je'lon Hornbeak has contributed across the board in OU's first 18 games, averaging 5.4 points, 2.6 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 1.1 steals in 23.2 minutes per game. He has started all 18 contests (played point guard the last 10 games). Hornbeak leads the team with his .385 3-point field goal percentage and is 5-for-8 (.625) in Big 12 play. He is 9-for-his last 15 from long range.
• Junior guard/forward Cameron Clark, who started 60 of 63 games and averaged 8.9 points in 30.4 minutes per contest over his first two seasons, is averaging 5.9 points in 16.5 minutes an outing off the bench this year. After shooting .238 from the field (5-for-21) in the first four games, he is shooting .528 in 14 games since (38-for-72).
• A starter every game the previous two years, senior forward Andrew Fitzgerald has come off the bench in 17 of 18 games this season. On the year, he averages 5.5 points (.439 field goal shooting) and 2.8 rebounds in 15.4 minutes an outing. He scored four points at Kansas on Saturday and became the 39th member of OU's 1,000-point club (has 1,002). He also grabbed a team-high eight rebounds against the Jayhawks, his most of the season, in just 12 minutes.
• Senior point guard Sam Grooms started all 31 games last year, led the Big 12 in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.8) and ranked second in assists (6.0 per game). He has come off the bench in each of his 17 games this season (missed Dec. 18 one-point loss to Stephen F. Austin due to injury) and has racked up a team-high 46 assists against 18 turnovers (2.6 ratio). In Big 12 games, he ranks second in the league with his 3.2 assist-to-turnover ratio (19 and six).
The Sooners return home to host No. 18/21 Kansas State on Saturday at 5 p.m. CT. The game will be televised by ESPN2.