WACO _ If the fickled Baylor fans have been saving their money waiting for a top-notched opponent to come to the Ferrell Center before they fork over their hard-earned cash, tomorrow night is the night to splurge.
It's not every day that two teams ranked in the Top 25 get to play each other. One of those rare days will happen tomorrow night at 7 at the Ferrell Center when No. 24-ranked Baylor entertains No. 11-ranked Kansas State.
K-State is 16-3 overall and 3-2 in the Big 12 Conference. Baylor is 15-3 overall and 2-2 in conference play.
A game of this nature against a highly-ranked team could mean the difference in Baylor getting an NCAA postseason bid or perhaps falling back to another trip to the NIT.
"The most important thing about K-State that I know is they're an offensive rebounding team,'' Baylor guard LaceDarius Dunn said. "They do a great job of that, so I think we're going to have our hands full as far as blocking out and trying to keep those guys off the boards.
"They're well-coached. Frank Martin is a great coach, and hats off to Frank Martin.''
The battle of the boards will indeed be the game inside the game that needs to be closely watched. Baylor is second in the Big 12 in rebounds with 41.9 per game, and K-State is fourth at 40.1 per game.
The Bears lead the conference in rebounding margin with a +9.9, and K-State is fourth with a +6.4. The Wildcats also lead the conference in offensive rebounds with 15.95 per outing, while the Bears are second in defensive rebounds with 29.06 per game.
"I'm looking forward to playing K-State,'' Baylor guard Tweety Carter said. "We're going to prepare for them like any other team, but ultimately we've got to come out and play for 40 minutes.
"It's going to be a game of runs, so we've got to be ready to match their intensity and be ready to execute down the stretch.''
With the way the home teams have been protecting their turf, Baylor knows it can ill-afford to lose to K-State.
"Every night's a big game,'' Bears assistant coach Jerome Tang said. "We don't have any nights off the rest of the year.
"It's a matter of how much can we improve between now and then.''
Or, as Dunn said: "We're going to have to come out and execute and just play Baylor basketball.''
And the Baylor fans must show up and execute their vocal chords. Sometimes the difference between winning and losing is the noise level in the building that disrupts the road team's concentration and makes it difficult for them to communicate with one another.
The Baylor team has done its part. The Bears are a perfect 10-0 at home this season, with the largest crowd being the 9,223 who showed up for the Jan. 16th game against Oklahoma State.
Now it's high-time for the fans do their part and show their support and pack the 10,200-seat Ferrell Center. Especially since this year's version of the Bears is more versatile and talented than last year's squad that reached the finals of the NIT.
-- Dwain Price