Baylor-St. John's Preview
With three players from the team that reached the regional finals of the 2012 NCAA tournament now in the NBA, Baylor coach Scott Drew knew his squad would struggle at times this season.
The No. 16 Bears look to bounce back from their first defeat Sunday when they face St. John's in the third-place game of the Charleston Classic.
A big reason Drew placed Baylor (3-1) in this tournament was so his players would potentially find themselves in tough, postseason-like game experiences to better prepare for later in the season. Through two games, Drew got what he wanted.
Though the Bears shot 51.7 percent in an 84-74 win over Boston College in Thursday's opener, they trailed by two at halftime. They weren't so fortunate Friday, shooting 37.3 percent and looking impatient during a 60-58 semifinal loss to Colorado.
"Right now, unfortunately, we might pick up some losses like (Friday)," Drew said. "We'll be a much better team from this."
With former standouts Quincy Acy, Quincy Miller and Perry Jones III playing in the pros, Drew has some great potential in 7-foot-1 freshman Isaiah Austin, but he's relying on the backcourt of Pierre Jackson, A.J. Walton and Brady Heslip to be the team's backbone. That threesome, however, combined to go 7 of 26 from the field Friday.
Jackson averaged 23.3 points on 57.9 percent shooting - including 9 of 20 from 3-point range - in the first three games but went 3 of 11 and missed all but one of his six 3-point attempts to finish with 12 points Friday.
Heslip shot 45.5 percent from beyond the arc last season, but is 5 or 22 (22.7 percent) through four games.
"Shooting's a funny thing," Drew said. "Some days it's on. Some days it's off. As a coach, you just want to have quality looks and you can live with the results."
Baylor forward Cory Jefferson hit all seven of his shots from the field and all three free throws Friday to score 17 points.
"I just wanted to come out here and go after every rebound and do everything I could for my team," said Jefferson, a reserve last season who is averaging 15.0 points and a team-high 8.5 rebounds as a starter.
The Bears face another challenge in their first meeting with St. John's (2-1) since an 83-82 loss in 1978.
The Red Storm opened tournament play with a 64-53 win over host Charleston on Thursday, but blew a 13-point first-half lead en route to a 72-67 loss to Murray State on Friday. Sophomore D'Angelo Harrison scored 27 points and pulled down nine rebounds, but a seven-point St. John's lead with just over seven minutes to play was erased by a 12-0 Racers run.
"We're still growing, we're still learning," coach Steve Lavin told the St. John's official athletics website. "We knew this would be a process with our young guys, but I love our team. I wouldn't trade our players for anybody's. We'll learn from this one and get ready for Baylor."
While Harrison averages a team-leading 23.3 points, the Red Storm hope to further benefit from the presence of junior-college transfer Marc-Antoine Bourgault. The sophomore swingman, who hit 42.1 percent of his 3-pointers last season for Monroe College in New Rochelle, N.Y., was finally declared eligible and played five minutes without taking a shot in his debut Friday.