No. 1 Baylor playing up to its ranking; Northwestern State up next

NCAA

Top-ranked Baylor is displaying the form reminiscent of last season’s NCAA championship edition out of Waco, Texas.

The Bears (11-0) look to continue their dominance and remain one of the nation’s five undefeated teams Tuesday night when they host Northwestern State.

Baylor owns the nation’s longest active winning streak of 17 games, and it doesn’t figure to end against the Demons (3-10), who are winless in eight road games this season.

Baylor’s margin of victory stands at a national-best 26.1 points. The Bears have won nine games by double digits, including impressive wins over Michigan State (75-58) and then-No. 6 Villanova (57-36), and no team has finished closer than eight points.

In addition, Baylor is well-rested, having last played on Dec. 20, when it drubbed Alcorn State 94-57. Bears coach Scott Drew was pleased with that performance.

“Coaches are always nervous the last game before Christmas, because you want everyone to go home and feel good, hopefully with a win, right before Christmas,” Drew said.

Flo Thamba was 8-of-8 shooting and Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua was 6-for-6 as they scored 16 points apiece. Kendall Brown also scored 16 on 5-of-7 shooting.

The Bears shot 58.3 percent from the field and had an impressive 29 assists on 35 baskets.

“The great thing about our team is everybody shares the sugar,” said Tchamwa Tchatchoua, “and it can be a different man every night. (That night), it was Flo going 8-for-8 from the field. I love when he has success.”

Leading scorer LJ Cryer (foot) sat out against Alcorn State but is slated to return on Tuesday. He averages a team-best 13.6 points and leads the club with 26 3-point baskets.

Brown (13.1) is second in scoring while making a stellar 71.4 percent of his shots. James Akinjo (11.5) also scores in double digits and is the team leader at 6.1 assists per game.

Northwestern State has played a tough slate that includes losses to then-No. 15 Houston, then-No. 19 LSU, Texas A&M, Oklahoma, Tulsa and SMU.

The Demons lost three of those games by at least 40 points — 95-48 to SMU, 99-58 to Houston and 89-49 to LSU. They also lost 96-66 to Louisiana-Monroe, but in their second game against that team two weeks later, lost by just 84-71.

Northwestern State last played on Dec. 21, when it lost 80-61 at Texas A&M.

Demons coach Mike McConathy liked the effort if not the result.

“I thought we did a really good job of competing hard,” McConathy said. “We made some big shots, but there were opportunities we left out there that could have helped us.

“In the second half, Texas A&M worked the clock and then drove to the basket, and that’s really hard for us to stop.”

Carvell Teasett led Northwestern State with 15 points but also committed six of the club’s 17 turnovers.

Kendal Coleman contributed 12 points and 11 rebounds for his fourth straight double-double. He leads the team in scoring (15.3) and rebounding (8.5).

The clash with the Bears will mark the Demons’ third contest against a No. 1 team in 53 weeks. Last season, Northwestern State faced Gonzaga on back-to-back nights due to coronavirus-related creative scheduling. The Zags won 95-57 on Dec. 21, 2020, and 95-78 the following night.

–Field Level Media

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