No. 8 Texas A&M narrowly escaped an upset bid by Kansas State Saturday at Reed Arena, 69-65, to open Big 12 conference play while Baylor barely missed an upset of its own by losing to No. 9 Oklahoma State in Stillwater, 81-77, Saturday.
The Aggies will be looking to get back to the dominating style they exhibited over the last few weeks on the non-conference schedule while Baylor will be trying to pull of the upset against a top 10 at home, something they certainly believe they can do.
If Baylor gets hot from outside, anything is possible as the Bears are one of the best shooting teams from beyond the 3-point arc in the conference. They will, however, have to deal with a stifling A&M defense looking to put the lapses seen against Kansas State behind them.
Road wins don't come easy against anyone in the Big 12, and Baylor will certainly be looking at this game as a chance to show they belong in the discussion for a NCAA tournament bid from the Big 12. A win over a highly ranked team like A&M would certainly put them on the list of early bubble teams, and cause jubilation along the Brazos River in Waco for beating a rival like the Aggies.
Tip-off is at 7 p.m. at the Ferrell Center in Waco and is broadcast by FSN Southwest.
No. 11 TEXAS A&M AGGIES
PPG: 4.8 RPG: 3.2 MIN: 13.1
Freshman 7-footer Josh Lomers has been thrust into the starting lineup in the past three games due to tendonitis in the knee of normal starter Mamadou Diene. Diene is listed as questionable and could be a game time decision, which is the same as he was against Oklahoma State. He didn't play in Stillwater. Lomers has been a forward who has been limited off the bench, but if the size of Kansas State freshman Jason Bennett, who is 7-foot-3, is any indication Lomers could give A&M fits defensively in the paint.
PPG: 13.5 RPG: 5.9 FT%: 86.6%
Junior forward Joseph Jones is quietly putting together a solid season on the boards, but it's foul trouble that continues to haunt Jones. He has a history of problems scoring against significantly taller forwards like Lomers, but Lomers isn't nearly as physical as Jones - causing a mismatch in A&M's favor. With Lomers, Jones can get to the foul line and get the big freshman in foul trouble, which could lead to a very big day on the scoreboard as well for Jones.
PPG: 13.2 RPG: 6.4 BPG: 1.14
Kevin Rodgers is arguably one of the better post players in the Big 12 conference that isn't getting much recognition. The 6-foot-9, 235-pound sophomore is very physical on both sides of the court and is definitely a force to be reckoned with offensively. Speaking of which, expect Baylor to go to Rodgers early and often as Baylor would like to get Jones and Kavaliauskas in foul trouble.
PPG: 12.2 RPG: 5.7 FG%: 61.7%
Antanas Kavaliauskas will have his hands full with Rodgers, who is one of the better young forwards in the league. Picking up fouls like he did early against Kansas State would be devastating as it would hurt A&M on the scoreboard. Pompey is easily adequate on defense in place of Kavaliauskas, but the offensive production could drop big time.