Baylor-Texas A&M Preview

Baylor opened Big 12 play by limiting Texas A&M to its worst

shooting effort. Defending the Aggies could be even easier in the

rematch.

The sixth-ranked Bears will visit a short-handed Texas A&M

team Wednesday night in the final scheduled meeting between schools

separated by less than 100 miles.

Baylor (19-2, 6-2 Big 12) won 61-52 at home over Texas A&M

(12-8, 3-5) on Jan. 2 for its fourth straight victory in the

series. The Aggies’ 28.6 field-goal percentage in that game is

their lowest in four seasons as they fell behind by 13 at halftime

and never recovered.

“I think we were a little intimidated the first half against

Baylor,” Texas A&M coach Billy Kennedy said.

The Aggies could be without two starters from that contest.

Khris Middleton, their second leading scorer at 12.4 points per

game, is out with a knee injury while Dash Harris, averaging a

team-high 4.3 assists, is day to day with a foot problem.

Kennedy was pleased with Saturday’s 76-61 win over Oklahoma

State, which Texas A&M pulled off despite being down to eight

scholarship players. Elston Turner scored 23 points as the Aggies

shot 58.3 percent in their third straight home win.

“We don’t know what the lineup will be like, so we’ll evaluate

it in practice and see who gives us the best chance at the best

start against Baylor,” Kennedy said. “But the positive thing is all

those guys have a lot more confidence than they had a couple of

weeks ago. We’re going to need all that against Baylor.”

The Bears believe Texas A&M could make it tough for them to

score. The Aggies are first in the Big 12 with 59.5 points allowed

per game and second in field-goal percentage defense at 38.2.

“I think the one common denominator is defensively, they’ve been

very good throughout the entire season,” Baylor coach Scott Drew

said. “In the last couple of games, that hadn’t changed and it’s

improved. They really get after you and make everything tough.”

With the Aggies set to leave the Big 12 after this season, the

former Southwest Conference rivals who have played 205 times are

not scheduled to meet again.

Texas A&M will probably be glad to see the last of Perry

Jones III, who may leave for the NBA after this season. Jones has

averaged 19.0 points and 53.7 percent shooting in three career

games against the Aggies.

He had 14 points and 12 boards in the first meeting to help pick

up the slack as Baylor guards Pierre Jackson and Brady Heslip

combined for four points. Those newcomers average a total of

22.5.

“Perry Jones is obviously one of the best players in the country

and he’s a tough matchup for anybody but their guards have made

them a lot better, there’s no question,” Kennedy said.

Jones has averaged 21.5 points and 13.0 rebounds in the

back-to-back wins that have followed Baylor’s only losses. He’s a

big reason why the Bears are a Big 12-best 5-1 on the road, where

he averages 17.5 points and 59.2 percent shooting.