Huston-Tillotson-Baylor Preview

When the game is on the line, Baylor generally goes to Kenny Chery.

That scenario won’t unfold Wednesday night.

The No. 21 Bears take a break from Big 12 play as they meet visiting NAIA foe Huston-Tillotson for the first time.

Baylor (13-4) has endured some thrilling finishes in splitting its last four games. That stretch started with a 56-55 home loss to then-No. 12 Kansas in which Lester Medford made a layup right after the buzzer before a 66-59 overtime win over TCU on Jan. 10, when Chery had a shot blocked in the closing seconds of regulation.

Chery scored the winning jumper with 4.7 seconds left in last Wednesday’s 74-73 win over then-No. 11 Iowa State before he missed a layup at the buzzer in Saturday’s 63-61 defeat at Kansas State.

"The good thing is we are working on game-ending situations and getting a lot of them in so that’s the positive," coach Scott Drew said. "When you win, you’re as high as you can be and when you lose, it’s not easy but that’s life in the Big 12 so it’s not for the faint of heart."

This contest against Huston-Tillotson (3-13) shouldn’t require heroics from Chery or anyone else. Baylor generally schedules non-Division I foes from nearby to provide a breather and that opportunity seems to be coming at the right time.

"I’m looking forward to that, hopefully it’s not a buzzer beater," Drew quipped.

The Bears like to give some local schools a taste of big-time college basketball, hosting Division III foe Hardin-Simmons in each of the two previous seasons with NAIA opponents Paul Quinn and Wayland Baptist visiting Waco in 2011-12 and 2010-11, respectively.

Now Huston-Tillotson, located in Austin, joins that list and Baylor once again won’t only have an edge because it is bigger, stronger and more talented. The Bears will be more rested since the Rams fell 131-100 on the road Tuesday to Our Lady of the Lakes.

Last season, a winless Hardin-Simmons team lost the night before its 104-59 loss at Baylor on Dec. 1. No Bears starter logged more than 22 minutes in that contest.

Starters like Taurean Prince (12.1 ppg) and Chery (11.2) don’t figure to play too much with a matchup against No. 19 Oklahoma set for Saturday.

Baylor figures to get everyone involved, and fans are no doubt looking forward to the entrance of walk-on John Heard – a former student manager. Heard logged a career-high four minutes against Hardin-Simmons a season ago, and will seek to make his second career basket after drilling a 3-pointer with 1:56 left in a season-opening 80-39 rout of McNeese State on Nov. 14.

Malcom Ballard led Huston-Tillotson with 19 points Tuesday while leading scorer Quincy Durden was held to five.

The Rams fell to 0-11 in their series against Our Lady of the Lakes – ranked 11th in the NAIA.