Texas Longhorns at Baylor Bears Preview: Could an Upset Send Baylor Dancing?

Texas is in a huge slump.  The most concerning part of the slump is the lack of defense (Texas' trademark this season).  Unlike offense, defense should be a constant.  Yes, a team could be on an incredible hot streak and hit tough shots, but you should never allow as many open looks as Texas has in three of its last four games (all losses).  I'm not sure if the Longhorns' struggles on offense are leading to a lot of run-outs for the opposition, or if it's just a lack of confidence.  Regardless of the cause, the Longhorns need to address the problem ASAP.

Baylor is looking down the barrel of the NIT right now.  The Bears have lost three of their last four, including ugly losses to Texas Tech and Oklahoma State.  A win definitely does not guarantee an at-large, but it at least keeps the Bears in the conversation for one.  Even a weak bubble won't save the Bears if they don't prove they can win against decent teams down the stretch.  Most teams would play with desperation in a similar situation, but I'm not sure Baylor has that killer instinct.  Perry Jones III is incredibly talented, but he's just not a primary option (especially with LaceDarius Dunn using up so many possessions).  This team really misses that leader, who can facilitate closing out games (even if that means dishing the ball to an open Dunn).  Right now, that's clearly missing.

Look for Baylor to try its zone--which has been very unsuccessful against teams that shoot well.  With Texas' recent shooting struggles the zone would probably be more effective than against Kansas, which spreads the floor as well as any team in the country.  The key for Baylor is controlling Jordan Hamilton.  It's pretty obvious when he struggles, Texas can't win games (see its last game against Kansas State where Tristan Thompson was unstoppable).  Really, Baylor is very similar with Dunn (Jones often plays very well in losses).  But if Baylor can force Hamilton to shoot low efficiency shots, it will at least have a chance for the upset. 

On Texas' side the Longhorns need to stop the bleeding.  They should start by trying to get Jordan Hamilton's shot back.  He needs to take the ball inside or behind the Baylor zone (the biggest hole in the coverage) where he can either get fouled or go to the line.  If Hamilton's shot still isn't falling, the Longhorns need to adapt.  Part of the problem against Kansas State was Texas didn't continue getting the ball inside to Tristan Thompson, who was virtually unstoppable.  If the same is true against Baylor, why mess with a good thing?

The game is at 8:00 PM on ESPN.  Prediction: Texas 74 - Baylor 65

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