Baylor hasn’t faced much of a challenge in cruising to its best
start in 11 seasons.
Coach Scott Drew, though, is well aware of the difficult matchup
this weekend’s visit to Provo is likely to present.
The No. 6 Bears try to overcome one of the more daunting
home-court advantages in the country when they face BYU on
Baylor (8-0), off to its best start since opening 12-0 in
2000-01, has outscored opponents by an average of 23.0 points with
each victory decided by double figures. In what appeared to be
their first true test of the season, the Bears embarrassed
previously undefeated Northwestern 69-41 in Evanston on Dec. 4.
That has been their only game away from home until this one.
Baylor could have its hands full against the Cougars (8-2), who
have taken all but one of their last 49 home games against
non-conference teams – including 19 straight by 30.4 points per
“Why are we playing BYU? Because quite frankly, no one else
wants to play up there because they know how tough it is to play up
there,” Drew said. “… It will be a challenge for us and I am sure
their 22,000 fans will make it welcoming for us, and we look
forward to it.”
The Bears figure to be well rested. Their only game since the
Northwestern win came Wednesday, and no one played more than 25
minutes in a 69-42 rout of Bethune-Cookman.
Senior Quincy Acy scored 10 points, becoming the 25th player in
school history to reach 1,000. Pierre Jackson was the only other
Baylor player to reach double digits with 12 points on 4-of-6
Jackson has provided a big spark off the bench of late,
averaging 15.3 points over the last four games while making 7 of 8
from 3-point range. He’s among the national leaders in 3-point
shooting at 60.0 percent and his 4.4 assists per game rank first in
the Big 12 among reserve players.
“When he comes into the game, everybody just expects him to be
very good from the standpoint he’s showed us he can take care of
the ball, he can hit the open guy, he can defend, he can knock down
the 3,” Drew said. “When he comes in the game, he really gives us a
great spurt and kind of go from that first couple of minutes of the
game to now all of a sudden the game speeds up a little bit just
because of how fast he is and how much he pushes the ball.”
BYU lost its only game this season against a ranked team, 73-56
to then-No. 11 Wisconsin on Nov. 26, but has since won four
straight by an average of 24.0 points.
Noah Hartsock, who leads the West Coast Conference with 17.3
points per game, scored 14 of his 19 points in the second half to
help the Cougars pull away in last Saturday’s 61-42 win at Utah.
Fellow senior Charles Abouo added 11 points and six rebounds.
“You really depend on your guys who have the most experience,”
coach Dave Rose said.
BYU held the Utes to 26.9 percent from the field and have
limited teams to 36.7 percent for the season, but Baylor is tops in
the nation in that category at 33.0 percent. Plus, the Bears are
among the country’s better shooting teams at 49.1 percent.
BYU has dropped seven straight against ranked non-conference
The Cougars hold a 5-2 advantage in this all-time series, though
the teams haven’t met since 1979.