Baylor-BYU Preview

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

Saturday.

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

game.

“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

shooting.

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

foes.

The Cougars hold a 5-2 advantage in this all-time series, though

the teams haven’t met since 1979.