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Men look for another upset

Feb. 16, 2001

The Bears travel to Oklahoma to take on No. 13


Sports writer

The road gets no easier for the Baylor men's basketball team this weekend as the Bears head north to Norman for a Saturday matinee with the No. 13-ranked University of Oklahoma. Tip-off is set for 3 p.m. at the Lloyd Noble Center.

Baylor (16-6 overall, 5-6 in the Big 12 Conference) and OU will likely come into the game with opposite mental attitudes. The Bears, of course, are coming off their upset of the No. 5-ranked University of Kansas Monday night. It was only Baylor's third win over a top-10 team in school history.

Oklahoma, however, saw its seven-game winning streak snapped in a big way Wednesday, losing to in-state rival Oklahoma State University 72-44. The Sooners (19-5, 8-4) shot just 34 percent in the game.

'We're back to business,' guard Andre White said. 'Kansas is in the past. It will mean nothing if we don't win another game.'

The Bears and Sooners have already met once this season, with Oklahoma taking a 65-51 decision Jan. 31 at the Ferrell Special Events Center. Guards Kelley Newton and J.R. Raymond combined for 30 points and shot 8-12 from behind the arc to lead OU.

'We missed a lot of outside shots [in that game],' White said. 'We need to do a better job of containing Raymond.'

Baylor's fortunes changed after that game though, as the Bears have won three of their last four games. The main key in the turnaround is that Baylor seems to have broken its shooting slump.

In a four-game losing streak that culminated with the loss to the Sooners, Baylor shot just 36 percent from the floor and less than 17 percent from three-point land.

In the last four games, however, the Bears are up to 47.6 percent shooting overall and 30.1 percent from downtown.

So is the slump officially over?

'I think it's safe to say that,' forward Michael Degrate said. 'But we have to be confident.'

While the three-point percentage still isn't great (30.6 percent for the season), Baylor is more about quantity than quality. When the Bears connect on six treys or more in a game, they are 15-1.

'That opens the game for us,' DeGrate said. 'We depend on [threes] to give us a cushion. We need Chad [Elsey] and Wendell [Greenleaf] and everyone.'

While not as tall as a team like Kansas (the Jayhawks have four players listed as 6-feet-10-inches or taller), Oklahoma is every bit as physical. As a result, Baylor's frontline players will once again have to hold their own to keep the rebounding battle close.

'They're physical and aggressive on defense,' White said, 'and they have a good offense, good motion and good shooters.'

In addition to shooters like Newton and Raymond, the Bears must also know where Sooner forward Aaron McGhee is on the court. The junior college transfer leads Oklahoma with an average of 14.2 points per game and is shooting 48.5 percent from the floor. Guards Nolan Johnson and Hollis Price also average in double-figures.

An essential theme for Baylor will be staying focused on the road ahead and keep from basking in the Kansas win.

DeGrate said that won't be a problem.

'We came back intense,' he said of this week's practices. 'We're excited. We know what we're doing is working and paying off.'