NCAA BK

Hardin-Simmons-Baylor Preview

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Many people use the Thanksgiving holiday break to get a breather before having to work again.

That appears to be what Baylor has in mind with its lone contest of the weekend.

The 18th-ranked Bears should have little trouble Sunday at home against Hardin-Simmons, a winless Division III team that is finishing up a set of back-to-back games.

Baylor (6-1) will return to action after its first loss, 74-67 to No. 8 Syracuse on Wednesday in the championship game of the Maui Invitational.

The defeat didn't deter coach Scott Drew from being satisfied with a 2-1 trip to Hawaii.

''I thought we left here becoming a better team,'' Drew said.

The Bears will now get what amounts to serve as an organized practice before Friday's big matchup with No. 3 Kentucky.

Hardin-Simmons (0-3), also a Baptist school, is located about a three-hour drive west of Baylor in Abilene.

The Cowboys have been a fairly common opponent, with the Bears leading the series 17-12. Baylor has won the last 10 matchups since a 25-6 loss in 1936-37.

These teams last met Jan. 19. Drew rested his two top scorers and Baylor still posted its largest margin of victory in school history, 107-38. That surpassed a 66-point win over Austin College on Nov. 24, 1978.

The Cowboys weren't much better in their previous visit, a 106-45 loss Nov. 22, 2009. Their last six defeats in the series have been by an average of 51.5 points.

This season, the Bears won't only have an edge because they are bigger, stronger and more talented. They will also be the more rested team since Hardin-Simmons fell 80-57 at home to Texas-Dallas on Saturday in its American Southwest Conference opener.

Baylor will seek improvement after committing a season-high 20 turnovers against the Orange. The sloppy play overshadowed the Bears' 55.3 shooting percent - their second-highest mark of the season.

''There is always room for improvement win or lose no matter what happens,'' top scorer Cory Jefferson said. ''We're just going to go back, watch film of the games, over this whole tournament. Look at the things we did wrong and improve it.''

That shooting percentage is actually better than the 54.1 percent produced by the Bears last season against the Cowboys. Taurean Prince led Baylor with 21 points and 15 rebounds off the bench and Jefferson added 10 and 12.

Jefferson is the only Bear who has played twice against Hardin-Simmons. He has 17 points and 18 rebounds in 35 minutes.

The only other common thread in this mismatch is that the Cowboys are also led in scoring by someone named Jefferson. Derrick Jefferson, who is not related to Cory, averages 18.3 points.

One other notable fact about this matchup is that Hardin-Simmons was the opponent in the Bears' first victory in their current home, a 73-48 win at the Ferrell Center on Dec. 3, 1988.

Tagged: Baylor, Cory Jefferson

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