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February 20, 2013

Curing the bug

This Baylor turnover bug, the one that's been dogging the Bears basketball team like a virus running through a daycare? When will it end? How will it end?

The Bears hope Wednesday night at the Ferrell Center against Iowa State (8 p.m., ESPNU).

It has to end if Baylor wants to get off the bubble and get into the NCAA Tournament. At 16-9, it's nervous time for Bears basketball fans.

Baylor had 19 turnovers in an 81-61 loss at No. 13 Kansas State. It wasn't the only reason the Bears lost - Baylor struggled defensively and was out-rebounded.

But giving the ball away six more times than your season average, when turnovers have already been a problem, is something that the coaches and players know they have to fix now.

"We need to take care of the ball, rebound and defend better," guard Brady Heslip said. "We have to protect our home court. We've put the last game behind us and we've learned from it."

So how do you cure the turnover blues?

It starts with your senior point guard. It begins and ends with Pierre Jackson, a Bob Cousy finalist.

Jackson had five turnovers against Kansas State. Usually if he has a high turnover game, Jackson makes up for it with 18 or 20 points. Against Kansas State State, he had eight points.

It's not to single out Jackson, Baylor's best player.

Isaiah Austin had three turnovers, two of them on travels. A.J. Walton had three turnovers. Deuce Bello had two turnovers in four minutes.

The debacle in Manhattan, Kan. was a team effort.

But it's Jackson who can turn this turnover thing around. He has the ball the most. He sets the tempo. He's the floor leaders. And his teammates feed off of him.

If Jackson can set the tone with a low turnover game, there's no doubt the players around him will respond.

And Baylor has other things to worry about heading into the Iowa State game.

Lackadaisical defense was an issue against Kansas State. Baylor at times did a poor job of closing out on 3-point shooters.

Iowa State can shoot the 3. The Cyclones lead the Big 12 by making 238 3-pointers in 645 attempts for a 36.9 percentage.

"That's what makes Iowa State so dangerous," Drew said. "They can spread the floor out. They're going to get shots. You just don't want them to get two or three cracks at it."

Iowa State made only 4 of 24 treys in a 79-71 win over Baylor on Feb. 2. The Cyclones are bound to shoot it better this time around.

That means the Bears have to set an intense tone on defense, and hopefully that will lead to strong execution on the offensive end.

Maybe it will work hand in hand. And the turnover bug, it will be cured and out of Baylor's system for these last six crucial regular season games.







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