Time: 7 p.m.
TV: Big 12 Network/CTN/ESPN Full Court (John Walters play-by-play, Eric Heft color)
Location: James H. Hilton Coliseum in Ames, Iowa
Baylor 10 (No. 2 Big 12)
Iowa State 30 (No. 4 Big 12)
Line: Iowa State -1½
Baylor Players to Watch: F Perry Jones III, 6-11 So. (13.2 ppg, 7.3 rpg, 49.5% FG); F Quincy Acy, 6-7 Sr. (12.3 ppg, 7.3 rpg, 58.2% FG); G Pierre Jackson, 5-10 Jr. (12.7 ppg, 5.7 apg, 1.7 spg). Jones, who was recently named one of 30 candidates for the Naismith Award as college basketball’ dominated Texas Tech in a 77-48 win on Tuesday with 15 points, 10 boards, three assists, a steal and a block in just 27 minutes.
Iowa State Players to Watch: F Royce White, 6-8 So. (12.8 ppg, 9.2 rpg, 5.1 apg, 1.2 spg, 52.8% FG); G Chris Allen, 6-3 So. (12.4 ppg, 2.4 rpg, 2.3 apg); G Scott Christopherson, 6-3 Sr. (12.1 ppg, 2.1 apg, 47.9% 3s). White – a Minnesota transfer – continued his outstanding sophomore season with 20 points, nine assists, six rebounds and two steals in Wednesday’s 78-72 loss to Missouri. If not for Thomas Robinson of Kansas, White would be the leading candidate for Big 12 Player of the Year. Maybe should be anyway.
Storylines: Third place in the Big 12 is on the line. Baylor has already clinched at least a share of third, but Iowa State can join the Bears at 12-6 and steal the No. 3 seed in the Big 12 tournament with a win. Baylor has won three straight since a min-slump from Feb. 8-18. The Cyclones are one fire with three wins in their last four games. The one loss, 78-72 on Thursday, ISU led No. 8 Missouri more than half of the game in the loss.
Keys: Baylor shot 60 percent from the field (33-for-55) in a 79-64 win over Iowa State on Feb. 13. Jones had 18 points and seven boards in the triumph.
Both teams have explosive offenses. The Bears rank third in the Big 12 with 74.5 points per game. ISU is fifth at 73.2. Baylor leads the Big 12 in 3-point shooting at 39.1 percent, while the Cyclones are second at 38.3 percent. Led by Christopherson, who is shooting 52.2 percent from the 3-point line in league play, Iowa State has made 275 3-pointers this season, five from the school record. Baylor is the second-best free throw shooting team in the league at 74.6 percent, while White and the cyclones have struggled at 67.6 percent. Baylor shoots 47.7 percent from the floor, while ISU shoot 44.9 percent. Iowa State gives up the second-highest field goal percentage in the conference at 43.9 percent, but the Cyclones feature the league’s best 3-point defense, allowing opponents to shoot just 30.3 percent. With a win, the Bears would have 26 regular-season victories, the most in school history. Their 12 Big 12 wins is the most in program history. Saturday is the 22nd meeting between the Bears and Cyclones. ISU leads the all-time series 12-9 and has never lost to the Bears in Ames. Baylor is an impressive 7-2 in true road games and 10-2 away from home this season. ISU is 15-2 at Hilton this season and has won six in a row at home.
The Bottom Line: Baylor’s consistency is a concern, but the Bears are just so much more talented than the Cyclones.
The Pick: Baylor 79, Iowa State 72