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Baylor-Chaminade Preview

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Another close victory might be exactly what Baylor needed to prepare for a trip to Hawaii.

The No. 18 Bears look for a 10th consecutive victory Monday against Chaminade in the Maui Invitational.

Though Baylor would appear to be in good position to start 5-0 for the third time in four seasons, it hasn't been all easy. The reigning NIT champions overcame 38.8 percent shooting to pull out a 66-64 win over South Carolina on Nov. 12, and held off pesky Charleston Southern for a 69-64 win on Wednesday.

"The good thing is that you are going to have close games through the year, and you always want to win close games," coach Scott Drew said. "It's great for us to be in that situation, and now we will be able to teach how to handle that situation."

That experience should come in handy against a Maui field that features fellow ranked opponents Syracuse and Gonzaga. Appearing at the Maui tournament for the first time since finishing sixth in 1987, the Bears will face with either the Bulldogs or Dayton on Tuesday.

"I think it is one of the bucket list things," Drew said. "People grow up in basketball, and that is one of the most, if not the most, prestigious event(s) to get in to. We are really excited to get there."

Tournament staple and Honolulu-based Division II Chaminade (2-0) is 7-75 all-time in the event, but Baylor must be cautious after the Silverswords stunned Texas 86-73 in last year's tournament.

After shooting 58.7 percent during an 87-68 win over Louisiana last Sunday, Baylor made 41.2 percent of its shots but got 16 points each from 7-foot-1 Isaiah Austin and 6-9 Cory Jefferson. Jefferson also pulled down 11 boards and Austin had eight with six blocks.

"It wasn't necessarily just to get it into the bigs," said Jefferson, who averages 13.0 points and 9.8 rebounds. "We just wanted to get the ball in the paint, whether it was guards penetrating or passing it into the bigs, and them scoring. However we did it, that was our main point of emphasis was to get the ball to the paint."

Guard Brady Heslip made three 3-pointers to finish with 11 points as the Bears withstood a late 7-0 run by the Buccaneers.

Baylor has yet to allow more than 68 points in a game and managed to slow down a Charleston Southern squad that came in averaging 99.0 points. Austin has recorded 14 of his 19 blocks in the last two games.

Heslip's 15.0 points per game leads a Baylor bench that's averaging 31.3.

Chaminade coach Eric Bovaird knows his team will have all it can handle.

"We're going to have to play really well to stay in the game against these guys," he said.

Chaminade could have Florida Gulf Coast transfer Christophe Varidel back after he missed an 82-63 win over Saint Martin's on Nov. 9 game with an injury. Varidel, who averaged 6.2 points for last year's FGCU team that reached the regional semifinals of the NCAA tournament, hit five 3-pointers to finish with 30 points in Chaminade's 82-73 win over Western Oregon on Nov. 8.

Tagged: Baylor, Florida Gulf Coast, Cory Jefferson

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