WACO, Texas — Most college basketball teams like to fill their nonconference schedules with a variety of opponents with different styles of play.
From that standpoint, No. 21 Baylor’s slate this week is a success.
The Bears defeated Texas Southern 99-68 on Thursday night by defending the Tigers for most of the shot clock, possession after possession.
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Baylor will get a different look when it hosts Savannah State on Sunday afternoon.
“Savannah is Golden State,” Baylor coach Scott Drew said. “That won’t be a slow-paced game. That game, up and down, we’ve got to do a much better job of rebounding the long shots.”
The Bears (8-2) dominated Texas Southern everywhere but in the rebounding category, where Baylor had a slight 32-28 edge. Otherwise, the Bears shot 66 percent from the field, including 56 percent from 3-point range, but primarily operated by going inside.
“I think that’s why we were so efficient (versus Texas Southern) — we had 58 paint points,” Drew said. “We like taking 3s, but we want to make sure we have a chance to get some easy scores too.”
Savannah State coach Horace Broadnax, on the other hand, seems to have given his players the green light as soon as they cross half court. Through Friday’s games, the Tigers (3-9) ranked fourth in the nation with 136 made 3-pointers. Savannah State is shooting just 29 percent from beyond the arc, but that won’t slow down the Tigers.
Savannah State hit 12 of 40 3-point attempts in a 113-66 loss at Texas A&M on Wednesday. Following the game, Broadnax said his team is determined to play its style of basketball even when it might not put the Tigers in a good position to win against Power 5 conference opponents.
“If we try to play slow it will be a slow death, so we try to play fast to create more possessions,” Broadnax said.
“That’s what we try to do against a more comparable team. Obviously, this is a high-quality opponent, but we can’t change our style because of who we’re playing. We try to keep it in perspective. Try to talk to these kids about keeping their heads up and competing when things are tough.”
Guard Dexter McClanahan leads Savannah State with 13.3 points per game, with a season high of 26 in a win over NAIA opponent Middle Georgia State.
On the defensive end, the Tigers will have to contend with a much bigger Baylor team that seems to be finding its identity on offense. Nuni Omot, a 6-foot-9 forward, has scored a total of 52 points in the past two contests.
“Honestly, it’s just my teammates doing a good job of getting me the ball and me being open,” Omot said. “They do a good job of creating for me, so I have to reward them with finishing the ball.”
Baylor guard Manu Lecomte returned to action in Baylor’s win over Texas Southern after a sprained thumb kept him out of the previous game against National Christian College Athletic Association opponent Randall. Bears forward Mark Vital also got in the game earlier this week after missing the Randall game with a hamstring injury.
Baylor has been limited to eight available scholarship players for most of the season.
“It just needs time,” Drew said. “Mark’s a hamstring. You need time. You get to the break. That’s the time you need. But we’re being cautious that he doesn’t, Manu’s thumb, doesn’t hurt it any worse.”