The Sports Network
By Scott Haynes, Senior College Basketball Editor
FACTS & STATS: Site: Frank Erwin Center (16,734) -- Austin, Texas. Television: ESPN. Home Record: Baylor 13-1, Texas 13-1. Away Record: Baylor 2-3, Texas 6-1. Neutral Record: Baylor 1-3, Texas 2-1. Conference Record: Baylor 6-4, Texas 9-0. Series Record: Texas leads, 155-79.
GAME NOTES: The third-ranked Texas Longhorns seek to continue their red-hot play against Big 12 foes, when they welcome the Baylor Bears to Austin for a conference showdown at the Frank Erwin Center this afternoon.
The Longhorns sit atop the league standings with a perfect 9-0 record thus far, marking the first time the team has started conference play with nine straight wins since the 1978-79 campaign. To further emphasize just how dominant Texas has been, all nine victories have come by double figures, representing the first time that has occurred in league play since the 1921-22 season. Rick Barnes' squad returns home following yet another impressive victory, knocking off Oklahoma in Norman on Wednesday, 68-52.
Scott Drew's Bears remain among the upper echelon in the Big 12 with a 6-4 league ledger. Most of the team's victories have come at home in Waco, including Wednesday's 74-70 decision over Nebraska. Baylor has won two straight games and three of its last four.
This matchup marks the 235th meeting between these two Lone Star State rivals. Texas holds a sizeable advantage all-time at 155-79, thanks to a recent string of 24 straight victories. However, the Bears have roared back having won each of the last four meetings. These two teams will meet again in the regular- season finale in Waco on March 5th.
The Bears are only averaging a modest 72.3 ppg this season but that hardly tells the tale in terms of their offensive proficiency. Baylor is one of the better shooting teams in the league at 48-percent accuracy and boasts of the Big 12's most explosive scorer in senior guard LaceDarius Dunn. The 6-4 veteran leads the entire conference in scoring (20.7 ppg), thanks to his prowess from behind the arc, where he is connecting on a conference-best 3.7 three-pointers per outing. With 2,153 career points, Dunn needs just 37 more to become the school's all-time leading scorer (2,189) and 104 points to surpass Texas Tech's Andre Emmett (2,256) as the Big 12's career leader. Dunn gets offensive help from the likes of Perry Jones III (14.6 ppg) and Quincy Acy (13.0 ppg), who also serve as the team's top rebounders at 7.0 and 7.5 rpg, respectively. It was once again Dunn who fueled the win over Nebraska this week, as he netted 20 of his game-high 24 points after halftime. Acy came off the bench with 15 points, while Jones III finished with 11.
Scoring against Texas isn't easy this season, especially in-conference where the team is yielding a meager 54.0 ppg on .358 shooting. It hasn't just been at the defensive end where UT has excelled. The team is also getting valuable offensive contributions from a variety of sources. At 76.1 ppg on the year, the team boasts of an impressive +16.4 scoring margin overall. Sophomore forward Jordan Hamilton is a rising star both in the Big 12 and nationally, averaging team-highs of 19.0 points and 7.7 rebounds per game. Texas' strength comes in the frontcourt as Hamilton is joined by freshman Tristan Thompson (12.6 ppg, 7.3 rpg) and senior Gary Johnson (11.7 ppg, 6.5 rpg). Freshman guard Cory Joseph (11.0 ppg) and sophomore J'Covan Brown (9.0 ppg) provide young talent in the backcourt. Texas was once again masterful at both ends, shooting 53.2 percent from the field, while holding Oklahoma to a mere 32.1 percent effort in a 16-point victory in Norman. Hamilton just missed a double- double, leading the Longhorns with 20 points and nine rebounds. Johnson added 14 points, followed by Dogus Balbay (12 pts), Joseph (11 pts) and Thompson (11 pts).
If this game was in Waco, it may have been the right time for Baylor to pull off the upset. However, the Bears have struggled on the road this season and Austin is an awfully tough place to play, especially against a Texas squad that continues to grow in confidence with each decisive victory.