Halfway through the Big 12's 18-game schedule, the race to win the conference title is still up for grabs. No. 11 Baylor remains in the mix as it prepares to host Texas Tech on Saturday, but even the last-place Red Raiders (12-10, 1-8 Big 12) pose a threat in what is widely regarded as the nation's most rigorous league.
Baylor (16-6, 5-4) won the first meeting 81-74 at Texas Tech on Jan. 17 behind 27 points from Keyonte George. The Red Raiders shot an impressive 50.9% from the field in that game but made just 8 of 15 free throws and forced only three turnovers. The loss was the sixth in a stretch of eight straight defeats to begin Big 12 play for TTU, but the Red Raiders appear to be coming back to life.
Texas Tech is entering off a 23-point comeback victory over No. 13 Iowa State on Monday for its first Big 12 win of the season. That overtime win over the Cyclones, combined with last Saturday's Big 12/SEC Challenge win at LSU, suddenly has the Red Raiders on the verge of a winning streak.
The key to TTU's two-game turnaround has been forward Kevin Obanor, who scored 22 against LSU and 24 against Iowa State, drilling 6 of 11 attempts from 3-point range over those two contests. Obanor played as the Red Raiders' de facto center for long stretches against Iowa State as coach Mark Adams went with a small lineup to speed up the game once his team fell behind.
If the Red Raiders take the same approach against Baylor, the Bears should be well-equipped to adapt because of their deep group of guards led by Keynote George, Adam Flagler and LJ Cryer, each of whom average more than 14 ppg. Baylor's six-game winning streak ended in a 76-71 loss at Texas on Monday after the Bears shot only 36.8% from the field, but they are one of the best offensive teams in the nation because of their guard play.
How to watch Baylor vs. Texas Tech live
Date: Saturday, Feb. 4 | Time: 1 p.m. ET
Location: Ferrell Center -- Waco, Texas
TV: CBS | Live stream: CBSSports.com, CBS Sports App (Free)
Baylor vs. Texas Tech prediction, picks
Texas Tech is coming off its first Big 12 victory of the season — a 23-point comeback win over Iowa State — and the confidence gained there should carry over. The Red Raiders played Baylor competitively in an 81-74 loss on Jan. 17 despite playing subpar defense and should be able to hang around in this game as well. Even during an 0-8 start to conference play, TTU lost six of those games by 10 or less. Baylor has just one double-digit victory against a league foe this season and isn't strong enough defensively to be trusted to win by such a large margin. Prediction: Texas Tech +8
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