No. 12 Baylor will look to build momentum for the approaching Big 12 Conference season when it hosts dangerous Northwestern State on Tuesday in Waco, Texas.
The Bears (8-2) have won three straight games, including a gritty 65-59 victory over Washington State on Sunday in Dallas as part of the Pac-12 US LBM Coast-to-Coast Challenge. Keyonte George led Baylor with 19 points, 12 of those in the second half, while Adam Flagler added 12 in the win.
The Bears survived a ragged offensive game in which they shot just 46.0 percent, missed 18 of their 24 shots from beyond the arc and were outrebounded 32-29.
“We had to dig deep a little bit, especially in the second half,” said Baylor center Flo Thamba, who had eight points and six rebounds. “Pressure makes diamonds, and it’s a 40-minute game. We were able to make the plays we needed down the stretch.”
Baylor never led by more than eight points — that came in the final minutes — scored 26 points in the paint and held Washington State to 40.4 percent shooting.
The Bears had 11 days off before Sunday’s game and showed a little rust from the inactivity.
“I thought we were pretty good defensively, and we were at our best in the final eight minutes,” Baylor coach Scott Drew explained. “We struggled a little on offense and our shot selection, but that likely came from the layoff. We will go back to work on our chemistry on that end of the floor.”
Baylor has two games remaining before beginning the conference gauntlet at Iowa State on Dec. 31. It can’t afford to look past Northwestern State, who handed No. 21 TCU its only loss of the season on Nov. 14.
The Demons (8-3) head to Waco after a 110-73 loss to Rice in Houston on Saturday that snapped a seven-game winning streak.
DeMarcus Sharp led three Demons in double figures with 18 points while Ja’Monta Black and Jalen Hampton each added 12. Hampton also grabbed a team-best six rebounds for Northwestern State, which was outrebounded 55-23 in the loss.
The Demons were never really in the game against Rice, which hit 18 of its 26 shots in the first half and shot 67.2 percent from the floor for the game. Northwestern State did force the Owls into 22 turnovers and remains among the top in the Southland Conference in turning teams over.
It was the first time Northwestern State had surrendered 100 or more points since it gave up 104 against Baylor last December.
Northwestern State first-year coach Corey Gipson has already put the loss to Rice in the rear-view mirror. He has the Demons off to their best start since 2012.
“Our values will remain intact,” Gipson said about his team’s reaction to the loss at Rice. “We know how we go about each and every game and our guys are continuing to grow. We really feel good about moving forward with the program.”
–Field Level Media