NCAA BK

Sun, Nov 17, 2013 - 5:00 PM ET
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Louisiana-Lafayette-Baylor Preview

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Although it has been outstanding on the defensive end, Baylor hopes to improve its shooting as it looks to continue its home dominance against nonconference opponents.

The 23rd-ranked Bears aim to break out of their early-season funk Sunday when they host Louisiana in the opening round of the Maul Invitational.

Baylor (2-0) did not make a field goal over the final seven minutes but escaped with its 67th win in 72 home games against nonconference opponents in Tuesday's 66-64 victory over South Carolina.

The Bears were forced to wait out a lengthy review before officials determined that a foul called against them had come after the final buzzer.

While Brady Heslip provided a lift with 18 points and five 3-pointers off the bench, Baylor shot just 38.8 percent from the field, 6 for 17 from beyond the arc and 22 of 43 from the foul line.

''The good thing is free throw shooting is the one area that tends to get better throughout the season and the one thing we've practiced more this year,'' coach Scott Drew said. ''Free throws are the most mental thing in the game. It's like someone gets a cold in your house. It spreads.''

Drew's club has been able to stay in games by limiting Colorado and South Carolina to 34.5 percent from the field and 5 of 27 from long range.

Offensively, however, the Bears rank second-to-last with 138 points and a 57.6 free-throw percentage among Big 12 teams. They're also third from the bottom in field-goal (41.7) and 3-point percentage (37.8).

That's a far cry from last season when Baylor finished second in the conference with 76.0 points per game and a 46.0 field-goal percentage.

Heslip has been a bright spot with a total of 30 points and nine 3s, while Kenny Chery has 23 points and seven assists through the first two games.

The Bears, though, haven't been able to get potential first-round NBA draft picks Cory Jefferson and Isaiah Austin on track. The pair combined for 21 points and 10 rebounds against South Carolina after teaming for 18 and 15 in the season opener.

Now the 2013 NIT champs are hoping to get their offense in gear as they seek their seventh consecutive 3-0 start.

After totaling 193 points on 52.1 percent shooting in their first two games, the Ragin' Cajuns (2-1) made just 40.4 percent - including 2 of 17 from 3-point range - in a 76-63 loss at Arkansas on Friday. They also committed a season-high 20 turnovers and were outscored 17-3 after taking a 60-59 lead in the second half.

"I thought we played a great first 35 minutes of basketball," coach Bob Marlin told the team's official website. "We turned the ball over a lot in the second half and that made a difference in the game."

The Bears will have to keep an eye on guard Elfrid Payton, who poured in 27 points but had nine turnovers against the Razorbacks. The preseason All-Sun Belt first teamer has averaged a team-best 23.3 points on 55.6 percent shooting with 10 steals through three games.

Sophomore forward Shawn Long was limited to 12 points and five rebounds in Friday's loss after he had a combined 52 and 29 in wins over Louisiana College and McNeese State.

The Bears have won six of nine all-time meetings, and averaged 91.3 points in three home wins over the Ragin' Cajuns.

Tagged: Louisiana-Lafayette, Baylor

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