Cincinnati at Baylor Preview

The Big 12 gauntlet continues Saturday night when the Bearcats travel to Waco for an 8 pm tip off inside the brand-new Ferrell Center against the 14th-ranked Baylor Bears. 

Cincinnati is coming off a crushing home loss to Texas, 74-73, in their Big 12 home opener while the Bears come in 13-2 and winners of four straight, following their 81-72 win over BYU.

(Photo: Baylor Athletics)

Key stats and notes:

Scott Drew's team is one of the most efficient teams in the country. They rank fourth nationally in effective field goal percentage (59.2)  and third in field goal percentage (51.15). 

- This game will feature two of the better rebounding teams in the country. UC ranks second in rebound margin (+12) while Baylor ranks 35th (+6).

- Baylor ranks sixth nationally in points per game at almost 88 points per game. They also rank seventh in scoring margin, winning by an average of 18 points per game. 

- The toughest aspect of Baylor's offense to defend is their 3-point shooting. They are currently the best shooting team in the country from beyond the arc at 43.25 percent on 326 attempts.

- Both Kenpom and NET ratings have Baylor at No. 14 with the 4th best adjusted offense (122.6) and 71st-ranked adjusted defense (99.6).  

- Baylor is currently 8-0 in home games with both losses coming at neutral sites to Michigan State and Duke in Quad 1 games.

- Saturday's game marks UC's first time playing three-straight ranked teams since 2013-14, the first season in the AAC. UC lost to Louisville and UConn before defeating Memphis.

Players to know:

6'5 Freshman G Ja'Kobe Walter (15.3 ppg, 4.2 rpg)

The former McDonald's All American was recently named to the Wooden Award Midseason Top 25, which honors the best player in the country. Walter has been efficient in his first season with the Bears, shooting 43.5 % from the field while also connecting on 84.7 % of his free throws and 40% of his 3-point attempts. 

Walter leads the team in 3-point attempts and free throw attempts and is a guy that can score at all three levels. 

6'2 Senior G RayJ Dennis (13,9 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 6.1 apg)

Dennis has shown elite ability to set his teammates up at 6 assists per game. Dennis spent his first two seasons at Boise State and then was named MAC player of the year in his second year at Toledo. 

Dennis is efficient from the field at 51.8 percent and has knocked down 40.5 percent of his three-point attempts. Dennis averages 3.3 turnovers per game and has seven games of 4 or more. His best game of the season came against Florida, when he scored 24 points on 10-of-17 shooting. 

6'5 Redshirt-sophomore G Langston Love (11.3 ppg)

Love is one of the best shooters in the country, statistically. He has connected on 22-of-46 attempts from 3-point range (47.8 percent) while also making 37-of-44 free throw attempts. He is another guy that can make you pay from all three levels and is shooting 48.2 percent from the field.

Love has scored double-figures in 9 of 15 games this season with his best game being a 23-point performance against Nicholls State.

6'9 Senior F Jalen Bridges ( 10.7 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 45.9 FG%)

Bridges is coming off a 25-point performance against BYU. The former West Virginia transfer has been inconsistent at times this season,but has the ability to do it all on both ends of the court. He set a career-high and Big 12 Tournament record for 3-pt FG % (7-8, .875) against Iowa State last season. 

While an elite free throw shooter (88.5 %), Bridges has only attempted 26 free throws on the year. 

7'0 Freshman C Yves Missa (10.1 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 1.8 bpg , 65.9 FG%) 

Missa doesn't have 100 field-goal attempts so isn't listed among the NCAA leaders, but his 65.9% percent from the field would rank sixth nationally. A former five-star prospect, Missa played at Prolific Prep after growing up in Cameroon. He has provided a rim-protecting presence for the Bears, averaging almost 2 blocks per game. Keeping him off the offensive glass will be a priority for Wes Miller and his team. 

6'4 Junior G Jayden Nunn (10 ppg, 2.5 rpg, 2.7 apg, 44.3 FG%, 46.3 3FG%)

After spending two seasons at VCU and starting 64 of 66 games, Nunn decided to transfer to Baylor. He has connected on 19-of-41 attempts from 3 and is currently second on the team in assists with 41. 

 6'10 Sophomore F Josh Ojianwuna (5.1 ppg, 3.7 rpg)

Final Thoughts

Cincinnati is averaging 17 turnovers per game after the first two Big 12 conference games. That will have to be cleaned up if the Bearcats want to get another road win over a ranked opponent. Trevin Knell torched the Bearcats from 3-point range and Dylan Disu knocked down 4-of-10 attempts in the Texas loss. Perimeter defense has to be a priority with Baylor being the best 3-point shooting team in the country. 

Winnable game but Cincinnati will have to control the paint at both ends and limit their turnovers. 

How to watch:

8:00 ESPN 

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