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Dec 1, 2012; Blacksburg, VA, USA; Oklahoma State Cowboys guard Marcus Smart (33) handles the ball against the Virginia Tech Hokies at Cassell Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Peter Casey-USA TODAY SPORTS

Big 12 Throwdown: Baylor Elevates Texas Basketball

It feels like just a few years ago that Baylor was one of the lower-tier programs in the Big 12, struggling to succeed in college football and only defeating a couple Big 12 teams on the road. Now, it’s become one of the biggest recognizable schools in the conference in the past two years. Featuring talents like Brittney Griner, Robert Griffin III, Art Briles, and Scott Drew, it seems like the school can do no wrong.

Jan 09, 2013; Waco, TX, USA; Baylor Bears center Brittney Griner (42) gets a pass as Iowa State Cyclones forward Chelsea Poppens (33) during the second half at the Ferrell Center. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

The Bears caught fire at the end of the football season this year thanks to the defense stepping up and helping an already scary offense. Men’s basketball has had some rough patches this year but has beat Kentucky, and they’re coming off years of success since the tragic death of Patrick Dennehy. Women’s basketball won a national championship and continues to roll, absolutely smoked Iowa State this past week.

With a down conference in men’s basketball, it feels like Baylor will be right back there again. They’re already the best in Texas – both Texas and TCU can’t produce as much scoring as they can on average and Texas Tech isn’t as big up front which gives the edge to the Bears in rebounding against them. Overall, they’re right up there in scoring efficiency right next to Kansas.

Right now Baylor is set to be that next good team right after the Kansas schools and Oklahoma State. Ready to showcase yet another great basketball season.

Big 12 Power Rankings

  1. Kansas (13-1, 1-0) LW: 1
  2. Kansas State (12-2, 1-0) LW: 2
  3. Oklahoma State (11-3, 1-1) LW: 3
  4. Baylor (10-4, 2-0) LW: 6
  5. Iowa State (10-4, 0-1) LW: 4
  6. Oklahoma (10-3, 1-0) LW: 7
  7. West Virginia (8-6, 1-1) LW: 8
  8. Texas (8-7, 0-2) LW: 5
  9. Texas Tech (8-5, 1-1) LW: 9
  10. TCU (9-6, 0-2) LW: 10

Oklahoma State at Oklahoma – Saturday, 2:00pm CT (ESPN2)

He’s only a freshman, but do yourself a favor and get to know the Cowboy’s Marcus Smart. Leading the Big 12 with 39 steals, the pickpocketing guard also ranks at the top 10 in scoring (14.3 pts/gm), assists (4.79 per gm), blocked shots (14 this season), assist-to-turnover ratio (1.52), and clocking in over 32 minutes a game.

BIG MONDAY: Baylor at (6)Kansas – 8:00pm CT (ESPN)

This isn’t the Baylor we knew just a few years ago, and they will struggle mightily in the frontcourt as Jeff Withey will dominate there all night long. Similar to Iowa State, the Bears will need to rely on Pierre Jackson and Brady Heslip to score from the perimeter. They are two of the top four players in the conference in making 3-point shots, and are just behind the Cyclones in 3-point percentage as a team (.347).

(18)Kansas State at TCU – Wednesday, 8:00pm CT (ESPNU)

Just how bad is TCU? They only score 0.6 more points than their opponents on average and can’t make free throws. The Horned Frogs are dead last in nearly every rebounding category in the conference. There’s zero size on this team and that won’t match up well with a number of Big 12 opponents who will score on them all night long. Don’t let TCU leading the Big 12 in scoring defense fool you, they’ve been able to hold bad opponents to their poor style of play, but anyone with a pulse has dominated them. That includes Texas Tech.

Brian Spaen is the lead editor of Clones Confidential. Get more Cyclones coverage by following us on Twitter.

Tags: Basketball Baylor Bears Big 12 News Brittney Griner Iowa State Cyclones

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