Hillsdale Baptist-Baylor Preview

WACO, Texas — Earlier this week, No. 23 Bears got back on its feet after dropping a couple of non-conference games against tough competition and losing an important bench player to injury.

Baylor posted a 28-point victory over Sam Houston State on Monday night, bouncing back from losses at then-No. 21 Xavier and at home against then-No. 8 Wichita State.

In defeating the Bearkats, the Bears (6-2) started to figure out how to replace forward Terry Maston, who suffered a broken hand against Xavier and is expected to be out until January.

“We’re getting better every day, just trying to fit (forward Nuni Omot) at the 4, fit (forward Mark Vital) at the 4,” Baylor’s King McClure said Thursday. “We’re finding out the different lineups, going small. So, we’re getting better. And Coach (Scott) Drew is preparing us for down the road, a few games in conference we’re going to miss without (Maston). So, I think we’ll be ready.”

The next opportunity for Baylor to settle into its new lineup comes Saturday when it hosts a home game in Fort Hood, Texas, and faces Randall University of the National Christian College Athletic Association. Randall, located in Moore, Okla., is 4-9 with a notable 116-113 overtime victory against Oklahoma City University on Nov. 29.

Baylor has established a tradition of scheduling home games in each of the last three seasons in Fort Hood’s Abrams Gym. Last season, the Bears defeated Jackson State 82-57 on the Army base and notched a 104-59 win over NCAA Division III school Hardin-Simmons the previous season.

The 200,000-acre Fort Hood is located about 60 miles from Baylor’s campus. Drew’s Baylor program initially scheduled a game at Fort Hood to show appreciation after the team participated in a “Weekend as a Wrangler” program on the base in 2012.

“I didn’t really realize how big of a fan base was there until we played there the first time two years ago,” Baylor’s Jake Lindsey, now a junior, said. “It’s kind of a neat experience. Every year, it gives you a different perspective.”

When asked about Randall on Thursday, Drew skipped the usual drill of building up an opponent’s strengths.

“This game (at Fort Hood) has always been about us and making sure we play with effort, passion, energy and give the fans a lot of things to be excited about from a standpoint this game is really for them,” Drew said. “As far as Randall goes, any time you’re playing a non-Division I, the biggest difference is the size and normally teams like that tend to shoot a lot of threes. So you want to extend and make sure you take away the three, and that’s a great equalizer in college basketball.”

Baylor’s game against Randall begins a stretch in which it also plays Southwestern Athletic Conference programs Southern and Texas Southern, and Savannah State of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference.

“One thing coach Drew says is that we can never take anybody for granted,” McClure said. “So, these next few games are pretty critical. We play Randall and Texas Southern and Southern and Savannah State. Notre Dame just lost to Ball State at home by a buzzer-beater. You can lose any game if you don’t come out there and bring your ‘A’ game.”