Busting Brackets

Baylor vs. Oklahoma State: 2021 Big 12 Semifinal game preview, TV schedule

Mar 4, 2021; Waco, Texas, USA; Baylor Bears guard MaCio Teague (31) follows thru on a three-point basket over Oklahoma State Cowboys guard Cade Cunningham (2) during the first half at Ferrell Center. Mandatory Credit: Raymond Carlin III-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 4, 2021; Waco, Texas, USA; Baylor Bears guard MaCio Teague (31) follows thru on a three-point basket over Oklahoma State Cowboys guard Cade Cunningham (2) during the first half at Ferrell Center. Mandatory Credit: Raymond Carlin III-USA TODAY Sports /

The Baylor Bears and Oklahoma State Cowboys will clash in the semifinals of the Big 12 Tournament.

TV schedule: Friday, March 12, 5:30 pm ET. ESPN

Arena: T-Mobile Center in Kansas City, Missouri

After narrow margins of victory in the Big 12 Tournament quarterfinals, the top-seeded Baylor Bears will meet the fifth-seeded Oklahoma State Cowboys – in the first meeting of the season where both teams are fully healthy.

The Bears (22-1) enter the showdown fresh off an unexpected single-digit victory over ninth-seed Kansas State in the tournament quarterfinals, having come into that game as 20-point favorites.  Despite dismantling the Wildcats in both regular-season meetings by an average of 39.5 points, the Bears held a two-point edge at halftime and allowed Kansas State to claim its first lead over Baylor this season just a minute into the second stanza – before the Bears escaped with a 74-68 victory.

Unsurprisingly, it was the trio of Baylor’s guards that led the Bears to victory.  MaCio Teague, Davion Mitchell, and Jared Butler combined for 65 of Baylor’s 74 points, scoring 24, 23, and 18 respectively – while Mark Vital logged team-highs in assists (6) and rebounds (10).  The Wildcats outscored Baylor from the charity stripe – but the Bears’ ability to drive inside and make shots inside the perimeter ultimately propelled them to victory.


Oklahoma State (19-7), meanwhile, edged past West Virginia in a nailbiter, 72-69, in the second meeting between the two teams in the last week.  Playing with Cade Cunningham and Isaac Likekele in the lineup after the pair missed the previous tilt between the two squads, the Cowboys survived a game of runs, overcoming an eight-point West Virginia lead and a furious Mountaineer comeback when Oklahoma State was up 10 with five minutes to play – and ending the game on a 4-0 run after West Virginia led by one with 54 seconds to play.

Having Cunningham and Likekele back on board was crucial, considering the duo combined for 27 points, 15 boards, and seven assists – but the Cowboys also earned double-digit efforts from Avery Anderson III – who came alive after scoring just three in the first half and finished with 17 – and Bryce Williams (10).

Like Baylor, Oklahoma State escaped courtesy of gritty, physical play, outscoring the Mountaineers in free-throws (12 to 6) and points in the paint (40 to 30) – and playing perfect defense in the closing moments, including on the final possession.

Now, the Bears and Cowboys will clash just a week after their previous meeting, in an 81-70 rout on March 4th that completed a season sweep for Baylor.  That game saw Cunningham lead all scorers with 24 – with Kalib Boone joining him with 10 – before the star freshman went down with an injury late in the game.  His stellar offensive output was not enough to counteract Baylor’s four-headed beast of Butler, Teague, Mitchell, and Matthew Mayer – all of whom combined for 72 of Baylor’s 81 points.

This will be the first time, however, where the Cowboys will be fully healthy against Baylor, having missed Cunningham in the first game while Likekele was out for the second meeting.  With both back on board and the Cowboys now healthy, Oklahoma State must take advantage of what Kansas State exploited – and they could potentially avoid the season sweep.

If the quarterfinals were any indication, then this game will come down to two things: turnovers and inside play.  Against the Wildcats, Baylor turned the ball over a season-worst 21 times – but Kansas State failed to capitalize, being outscored in points off turnovers, 18-17.  Oklahoma State, meanwhile, is also coming off a game with 20 turnovers – and paid for it, with the Mountaineers maintaining a 22-13 edge in points off those miscues.

Valuing the basketball and actually taking advantage of the opposition’s errors will be incredibly crucial for whoever wants to come out on top.  But so is being physical and getting to the line – again, Kansas State outscored Baylor from the charity stripe, while the Cowboys won their game with West Virginia at the free-throw line.

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For Oklahoma State, combatting Baylor’s stellar three-point shooting with physicality inside might be their key to victory – while the Bears must take advantage of the Cowboys’ errors and score in transition, or drain outside shots in halfcourt sets.  Despite Baylor’s woes against an upstart Kansas State squad, the Bears’ ferocity may just be too much for Oklahoma State to overcome.

Prediction: Baylor 84, Oklahoma State 76