Watch Guide: Big 12 Conference schedule begins

Photo by John Hamilton

We're back! 

After some weeks off what better time to come back than the opening weekend of Big 12 play?

Saturday, January 4

MBB: Oklahoma State (9-3) at No. 22 Texas Tech (9-3), 11 a.m. on ESPN2
After a three-game skid early, the Red Raiders used their upset win over former No. 1 Louisville to kickstart their current four-game win streak that put them back in the Top 25.

Oklahoma State’s impressive win over Houston is its marquee win of the year and Mike Boynton has the Cowboys playing defense almost on the level of Tech. Expect this one to be low scoring.

WBB: Lamar (6-6) at Abilene Christian (10-1) at 1 p.m. on ESPN3
ACU is 10-1 and are one of the more under-the-radar good teams in the state. A quality start in conference win would be a big boost here. Justin Carter broke down why you should keep an eye on this one and the Southland in general.

MBB: Texas State (7-7) at Arkansas State (8-5), 2 p.m. on ESPN+
Texas State is winless in the Sun Belt through three games and need something to kickstart the second half of the season. The Bobcats’ notoriously stellar defense has given up 46, 56 and 68 percent shooting in the second half of each of their last three games.

WBB: Little Rock (3-9) at UT-Arlington (7-6), 2 p.m. on ESPN+
The Lady Mavs have a chance to get a big jumpstart to their Sun Belt campaign over preseason favorites Little Rock who suffered a double-digit loss and allowed 78 points to Texas State, a team that has really struggled to put up points this season. Marie Benson is making the best case for Conference Player of the Year right now averaging nearly 18 points per game and nearly leading the team in rebounds too. If the Mavs start off with two commanding wins to start off Sun Belt play, that only increases UTA’s title hopes.

WBB: Marshall (5-7) at North Texas (7-6), 3 p.m. on ESPN+
Anisha George’s absence might be a blessing in disguise in the long-term for North Texas who earned a big double-double effort from Charlene Shepard. The Mean Green found a way to win without their defensive anchor against Western Kentucky while still allowing nearly 40 points in the paint. For a team that’s relied a lot on their post star, another CUSA win without her could spell good things for when George comes back.

WBB: No. 6 Baylor (10-1) at Oklahoma (7-5), 4 p.m. on Fox Oklahoma
Why isn’t this game on a television slot? Who knows!

This one should not be close, but it is a chance to see Lauren Cox in her second game back from injury. Cox posted 10 points, six boards and four blocks in her first game back against Morehead State. The defense naturally wasn’t as dominant in Cox’s absence against Power Five opponents, if they return to form against Oklahoma, things are looking good once again Baylor.

MBB: Iowa State (7-5) at TCU (9-3), 5 p.m. on ESPNU
Strength-on-strength as TCU’s defense goes against the Cyclones’ efficient and low-turnover offense. Desmond Bane is coming off of a season-high 30 points that ended a rough shooting spell since the start of December, can the Horned Frogs rely on that type of effort again in the Big 12 opener?

MBB: Texas A&M (6-5) at Arkansas (11-1), 6 p.m. on SEC Network
Unfortunately, this could be the start of a really rough season in the SEC for A&M, as we've said all season.

Eric Musselman has the Razorbacks playing some of the best defense in the nation arguably touting the nation’s top 3-point defense. A&M already doesn’t shoot great from the floor or beyond the arc and this will likely just compound the Aggies’ frustrations. Expect DeSoto’s Mason Jones to continue his tear this year for the Razorbacks and continue to make the case for SEC Player of the Year.

MBB: Texas (10-2) at No. 6 Baylor (10-1), 7 p.m. on ESPN2
Texas fans are probably wondering what they have to do to get back into the Top 25.

Well, a marquee win would be a good start and what better way to get it than over No. 6 Baylor? This year’s Texas team has looked more like a Shaka Smart all-around effort squad that in previous seasons. The offense isn’t lights out, but it’s off to arguably the best start of Smart’s tenure and the defense is still playing like a Top 50 unit. But the schedule has also been fairly weak so what’s there to expect when they travel to Waco?

The Bears on the other hand are a well-balanced team that leans on its turnover-causing defense. The Bears are 24th in the nation in turnover percentage and 11th in 2-point shooting percentage allowed. They’re 26th in the nation in offensive efficiency and against a solid Texas defense, this is a chance to really showcase. Jared Butler’s taken his game to the next level as one of the most reliable deep shooters in the nation and Macio Teague’s acquisition has been just the backup scoring option they need.

Sunday, January 5

WBB: No. 1 UConn at SMU (6-6), 3 p.m. on ESPN3
UConn’s back at No. 1, big surprise we know.

The good news is this is the only time the Mustangs will see UConn this year!

At least the Huskies get the toughest matchup of the season out of the way in the first game of the CUSA schedule.

Monday, January 6

WBB: Ole Miss (7-7) at No. 11 Texas A&M (13-1), 6 p.m. on SEC Network
Bad news for Ole Miss, Chennedy Carter and N’Dea Jones are in the midst of their best run of the season over the last six games. Jones has tallied four double-doubles over the last six games and Carter has averaged over 50 percent shooting from the floor during that span and that includes the SEC opener against No. 20 Arkansas.

MBB: Southern (3-10) at Prairie View A&M (4-9), 8 p.m. on ESPNU
Both of these teams are off to shaky starts, but Prairie View A&M has the edge in one department here – forcing turnovers. Southern’s defense isn’t good enough to stop the likes of Devonte Patterson.

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