Posts tagged with Baylor Basketball

These guys again: No. 16 Baylor

Kansas guard Kelly Oubre Jr. (12) tangles for a loose ball with Baylor forward Rico Gathers (2) during the second half on Wednesday, Jan. 7, 2014 at Ferrell Center in Waco, Texas.

Kansas guard Kelly Oubre Jr. (12) tangles for a loose ball with Baylor forward Rico Gathers (2) during the second half on Wednesday, Jan. 7, 2014 at Ferrell Center in Waco, Texas. by Nick Krug

Early in Big 12 play, the Kansas Jayhawks got a glimpse of what the rest of the conference soon would learn: Scott Drew has a tough, talented team this season at Baylor.

KU won its conference opener for the 24th consecutive year back in January at Waco, Texas, but the Jayhawks escaped with a 56-55 decision at the Ferrell Center only after making some big shots late and figuring out ways to exploit BU’s half-court zone at times in the second half.

Since then, Baylor has moved up to No. 16 in the nation and comes into Saturday’s rematch at Allen Fieldhouse 18-6 overall and 6-5 in the Big 12, after losing its first two league games.

The Bears entered this week as one of the conference’s hottest teams, having won 5 of their last 6, but then they stumbled at home, with a 74-65 loss to Oklahoma State. Baylor allowed OSU to make 9 of 24 3-pointers in the loss, while the home team only hit 3 of 15 from deep.

Here are some trends from the Bears this season:

  • Baylor has lost second-chance points in each of the last 5 games after not doing so in any of its first 19 games, but the Bears are 3-2 in those games. (BU outscored KU 13-8 in second-chance points last time.)

  • Baylor is 18-3 this season when scoring 60-plus points, and 0-3 when being held under 60 (as the Bears were vs. KU).

  • Baylor is 14-1 this season when recording 13-plus assists and 4-5 when recording fewer than 13 (10 assists vs. KU).

  • Baylor is 1 of 9 Division I teams to hold all opponents under 75 points this season. (If the Bears can keep that streak alive at the fieldhouse, that stat would look even more impressive.)

As a refresher, here are the Bears No. 8 Kansas (20-4, 9-2) has to worry about as the Jayhawks continue their chase for an 11th straight league championship.

BEARS STARTERS

No. 1 — Kenny Chery, 5-11, senior G

Kansas guard Wayne Selden Jr. (1) and Baylor guard Kenny Chery (1) collide at mid court while competing for a ball during the first half on Wednesday, Jan. 7, 2014 at Ferrell Center in Waco, Texas.

Kansas guard Wayne Selden Jr. (1) and Baylor guard Kenny Chery (1) collide at mid court while competing for a ball during the first half on Wednesday, Jan. 7, 2014 at Ferrell Center in Waco, Texas. by Nick Krug

— Jan. 7 at Baylor: 25 points, 8/14 FGs, 4/7 3s, 5/5 FTs, 2 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals, 3 TOs in 35 minutes

He gave KU issues all night in the first meeting. You can bet his stat line will be memorized by the guys responsible for guarding him in the rematch.

In his last 10 games, Chery is averaging 14.7 points, after scoring 8.2 a game before that. Plantar fasciitis forced him to miss some games early in the season but he now looks back at full strength.

With 4 seconds left against Iowa State back on Jan. 14, he hit the game-winner in a 74-73 Bears victory.

Chery scored 19 points in the second half while hitting all 5 of his 3-point tries in a Jan. 31 beating of Texas.

Late in games this season, he makes a point to have the ball in his hands when the other team is fouling. He has made 23 of 26 free throws this season in the final five minutes of action.

Oklahoma State is one of the few Big 12 teams to figure out how to shut Chery down. He missed all 4 of his 3-pointers in the Bears’ loss to OSU and only scored 9 points in 30 minutes.

In 11 Big 12 games, he’s averaging 13.7 points and 3.6 assists, and has made a team-leading 21 of 54 3-pointers.

hoop-math.com update: Just 18.3% of his shots so far have come at the rim. Chery has taken 66 2-point jumpers and has made 39.4% of those tries (he has improved by more than 10% in that category since last facing KU). He’s 33-for-86 from deep (38.4%).

No. 2 — Rico Gathers, 6-8, junior F

Baylor forward Rico Gathers (2) gets to the bucket past Kansas forward Cliff Alexander (2) during the first half on Wednesday, Jan. 7, 2014 at Ferrell Center in Waco, Texas.

Baylor forward Rico Gathers (2) gets to the bucket past Kansas forward Cliff Alexander (2) during the first half on Wednesday, Jan. 7, 2014 at Ferrell Center in Waco, Texas. by Nick Krug

— Jan. 7 at Baylor: 9 points, 3/10 FGs, 3/4 FTs, 14 rebounds (9 offensive), 2 assists, 2 steals, 1 TO in 29 minutes

Just a reminder: Gathers is an absolute beast of a physical specimen and has broken out this season as one of the Big 12’s best interior players.

His 16-point, 16-rebound game against Oklahoma State marked:

  • his 20th double-figure rebounding game of the season, 34th of his career

  • his 13th double-figure scoring game of the season, 27th of his career

  • his Big 12-leading 13th double-double of the season (third in a row), 20th of his career

  • and — probably most impressively — his fourth straight game with 15-plus rebounds (the 2nd-most ever by a Baylor player, behind only Jerome Lambert’s, 15)

Bill Self said Gathers deserves to be in the conversation for the Big 12’s Player of the Year.

In Big 12 play, he averages 11.2 points, a league-best 13.5 rebounds (better by 4.0 a game than No. 2 rebounder Devin Williams of WVU) and 5.7 offensive rebounds a game.

*— hoop-math.com update: Shocking news! Gathers leads Baylor in put-backs. Actually, the number is kind of incredible. He has scored 66 put-backs this season. Sixty-six. A whopping 39.6% of his shots at the rim come on put-backs.

No. 00 — Royce O’Neale, 6-6, senior F

— Jan. 7 at Baylor: 3 points, 1/7 FGs, 1/2 3s, 0/1 FTs, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 turnover in 27 minutes

The Jayhawks did a nice job of turning him into a non-factor the first time around.

Of late, O’Neale is averaging 14.0 points in his past 4 games, when he has connected on 19 of 34 shots since being held scoreless at OSU.

He was a big part of Baylor’s road win at West Virginia last week, contributing 15 points on 5-for-7 shooting, with 6 rebounds and 4 assists.

In conference games, he’s averaging 9.2 points and 5.6 boards, plus 3.5 assists. He’s shooting 44.6% in the league and has made 11 of 28 3-pointers.

— hoop-math.com update: O’Neale scores mostly at the rim (42 field goals) and from downtown (30 3-pointers). He makes 64.6% of his takes to the rim.

No. 35 — Jonathan Motley, 6-9, freshman F

Baylor forward Johnathan Motley (35) bowls over Kansas forward Jamari Traylor (31) on a dunk during the first half on Wednesday, Jan. 7, 2014 at Ferrell Center in Waco, Texas. The dunk was called back and Motley was whistled for an offensive foul on the play.

Baylor forward Johnathan Motley (35) bowls over Kansas forward Jamari Traylor (31) on a dunk during the first half on Wednesday, Jan. 7, 2014 at Ferrell Center in Waco, Texas. The dunk was called back and Motley was whistled for an offensive foul on the play. by Nick Krug

— Jan. 7 at Baylor: 2 points, 1/5 FGs, 0/1 3s, 0/0 FTs, 8 rebounds, 1 assists, 3 blocks, 2 TOs in 31 minutes

Another guy who didn’t accomplish much offensively vs. Kansas back in the first week of January, the long red-shirt freshman has made an impact defensively, with 35 blocks in his past 15 games.

Foul trouble early in games have limited Motley’s effectiveness. He averages 11.7 points and 4.8 rebounds when he makes it to halftime with one or no fouls.

When he has at least 2 fouls entering the break, he only averages 6.0 points and 3.6 rebounds.

Motley has even been more effective scoring the ball when he stays out of foul trouble: 35.3% when committing 2-plus fouls in the first half vs. 48% shooting when avoiding that. He had 2 first-half fouls vs. Kansas in Waco.

In Big 12 play, Motley averages 8.3 points and 3.4 rebounds, and has made 43.6% of his shots, while missing both of his 3-point attempts.

— hoop-math.com update: Motley loves finishing inside, where he has 54 field goals at the rim. Keep him away from point-blank range and he makes just 26.2% of his 2-point jumpers and 23.1% of his 3-pointers.

No. 11 — Lester Medford, 5-10, junior G

None by FanSided GIF

— Jan. 7 at Baylor: 8 points, 2/6 FGs, 2/2 3s, 2/2 FTs, 0 rebounds, 0 assists, 1 TO in 28 minutes

In his first 3 conference games, which included the loss to KU, he only had 1 assist against 5 turnovers. But in his last 8 games, Medford has 34 assists and 15 turnovers. Over the last 6 games, he has twice led Baylor in scoring and has 21 assists in that stretch.

But Medford played 33 minutes in the Bears’ home loss to OSU and only scored 1 point, missing all 5 of his field goals.

In 11 Big 12 starts, Medford averages 8.0 points and has been most effective as a 3-point marksman, hitting 19 of 43 (44.2%).

— hoop-math.com update: Of Baylor’s rotation players, Medford spends the least time taking shots in between the rim and the 3-point arc. Just 14.7% of his shots have been 2-point jumpers, while 31.4% have come at the rim and a the majority, 53.8%, have come from long distance.

BEARS BENCH

No. 21 — Taurean Prince, 6-7, junior F

Kansas guard Brannen Greene defends Baylor forward Taurean Prince (21) under the bucket during the first half on Wednesday, Jan. 7, 2014 at Ferrell Center in Waco, Texas.

Kansas guard Brannen Greene defends Baylor forward Taurean Prince (21) under the bucket during the first half on Wednesday, Jan. 7, 2014 at Ferrell Center in Waco, Texas. by Nick Krug

— Jan. 7 at Baylor: 8 points, 3/7 FGs, 1/2 3s, 1/2 FTs, 5 rebounds, 2 blocks, 0 TOs in 27 minutes

Baylor easily could start him, and he could probably start for any team in the Big 12. But Drew uses him as a guy he knows he can get production from off the bench.

Prince scored 20 points in the loss to OSU earlier this week, when he had his team-leading 18th double-figure scoring game of the season. He has scored 10-plus in a career high 8 straight games.

On the season, he averages 12.6 points a game, which ranks first in the power-five conferences among reserves.

Prince averages 13.6 points and 5.6 boards in Big 12 action, makes 44.8% of his shots, and has made 19 of 56 3-pointers.

— hoop-math.com update: He can create his own easy points. Only 52.1% of Prince’s 48 buckets at the rim have come off assists. One of his methods? Crashing the offensive glass. He has 19 put-backs.

No. 25 — Al Freeman, 6-3, freshman G

Kansas guard Frank Mason III (0) is hounded by Baylor guard Al Freeman (25) during the first half on Wednesday, Jan. 7, 2014 at Ferrell Center in Waco, Texas.

Kansas guard Frank Mason III (0) is hounded by Baylor guard Al Freeman (25) during the first half on Wednesday, Jan. 7, 2014 at Ferrell Center in Waco, Texas. by Nick Krug

— Jan. 7 at Baylor: 0 points, 0/3 FGs, 0/1 3s, 0 rebounds, 1 assist, 0 TOs in 9 minutes

At times, he has proven an effective scorer off the BU bench. But the first game vs. KU certainly wasn’t one of those.

Freeman has scored 7 points or more 11 times and when he does, Baylor is 10-1.

The red-shirt freshman is typically the first guard off the bench for the Bears, and he scored 11 in BU’s key road win against West Virginia last weekend.

Still, he’s only averaging 3.1 points in 16.1 minutes in Big 12 play. He has made 5 of his 12 3-pointers in the conference.

— hoop-math.com update: Most of his shot attempts, 52.0% actually, come from long range. However, Freeman has connected on just 31.5% of his 35 3-point attempts.

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Bill Self looking for improvements in rematch with Baylor

Kansas forward Perry Ellis, left, and guard Frank Mason III, go for a loose ball during the Jayhawks 73-51 win over Texas Tech Tuesday, Feb. 10, 2015 at United Supermarkets Arena.

Kansas forward Perry Ellis, left, and guard Frank Mason III, go for a loose ball during the Jayhawks 73-51 win over Texas Tech Tuesday, Feb. 10, 2015 at United Supermarkets Arena.

The Big 12 grind almost never lets up. After going 1-1 in a two-game road stretch, with a loss at Oklahoma State and a win at Texas Tech, No. 8-ranked Kansas basketball next must deal with No. 16 Baylor.

Coach Bill Self spoke with local media Thursday afternoon in advance of KU’s top-20 showdown at Allen Fieldhouse.

The Bears fell at home to KU by a single point, 56-55, on Jan. 7.

Here are some highlights from the Q & A:

Baylor already had Self’s attention before the Bears won convincingly at West Virginia like the Bears did. BU usually plays pretty well at Allen Fieldhouse, even though KU has won those games. They’re capable of beating anybody.

The Bears’ zone is different. You have to get in gaps and attack the middle of it, which is the key to attacking any zone. But they pressure a lot out on the wings, which is a little different. You still have to make some shots.

Kansas guard Wayne Selden Jr. (1) shots a three-point basket in the first half against Texas Tech Tuesday, Feb. 10, 2015 at United Supermarkets Arena.

Kansas guard Wayne Selden Jr. (1) shots a three-point basket in the first half against Texas Tech Tuesday, Feb. 10, 2015 at United Supermarkets Arena.

Wayne Selden Jr. has played very well of late. It’s misleading, though. Selden has shot the ball well from deep all year long. His percentage is way down from inside the arc. Selden has shot the ball from deep the past few games — just as well as Brannen Greene. … Selden just needs confidence and he needs to get reps in the gym to finish more inside. You just have to grind through it.

Seeing Selden’s build and athleticism, he should be a better finisher in close to the basket. Right now he’s at a point where he can become more complete, because he can use his shot to get space and drive.

Self has talked about the Jayhawks having multiple personalities. The past couple of games they have had a great half and a poor or awful half. A lot of that is youth. Some of that can be controlled and they need to be more consistent. It can change from timeout to timeout almost. But when they’ve played really well it’s been very rewarding, too.

They can play at a very high level or a very low level.

Kansas actually has a decent in-between team, as far as shooting. The Jayhawks can make mid-range jumpers and long 2-point jumpers. Right now the game of college basketball is more about taking 3-pointers or getting layups.

Frank Mason III is a pretty good in-between guy and Greene can shoot it form three, too. And Kelly Oubre Jr. and Selden aren’t bad either.

It’s important because if you can hit those shots you can exploit defenses.

Self thinks Rico Gathers has played himself into the conversation for Big 12 player of the year, based on his strength inside and his rebounding. KU needs to do better on him, and you have to try and keep him off the offensive glass.

Down at BU, Self thought KU didn’t attack the zone very well at all in the first half. The Jayhawks have to get the ball inside and exploit the zone when they can.

Self knew Jerry Tarkanian well and he was a regular on the legendary coach’s radio show. They talked “ball” then, and when Self was at Illinois and “Tark” was retired, Self had him come out there and observe some things.

He was unique in being very complimentary of other coaches. When Self was at Tulsa, his last year they lost five games, all one-possession games. Three of those losses were to Tarkanian’s Fresno State team. “Tark” came into the Tulsa locker room after one of those games and gushed about how good Tulsa was.

Self has “been working” on what KU will do about the news he learned yesterday of assistant coach Jerrance Howard pleading guilty to misdemeanor drug possession in Illinois' Peoria County last summer.

“I am disappointed, but on one front. I didn’t know about it.” Self said he loves the guy, but they will handle it like they should.

Something more will be released today.

Perry Ellis needs three points to reach 1,000 for his career. It is a great accomplishment. Not as many kids do that anymore because few stick around for all four years. “I hope it happens early in the first half on Saturday.”

Kansas forward Cliff Alexander (2) left attempts a block on  Texas Tech guard Robert Turner (14) during the first half on Tuesday, Feb. 10, 2015 at United Supermarkets Arena.

Kansas forward Cliff Alexander (2) left attempts a block on Texas Tech guard Robert Turner (14) during the first half on Tuesday, Feb. 10, 2015 at United Supermarkets Arena.

Cliff Alexander got his first Big 12 start at Texas Tech. The freshman big man threw two “really bad passes” in the first couple of minutes. Overall, he did fine. KU needed more girth, a bigger presence than what Jamari Traylor is able to bring.

Alexander will be in the starting lineup moving forward as long as nothing changes. But you never know.

The change in the lineup didn’t have to do with Traylor. KU just needed more of a presence inside. A rim protector and defensive rebounder.

KU needs to throw it inside more and be passers out of that. They don’t have to be scorers down low, even if Self would prefer to play that way. Alexander is a presence, physically, so the coach hopes he can play 25 minutes a game and put up numbers. If that’s the case, KU will get better.

Kansas has been very good from 3-point range, and Selden and Greene have a lot to do with that. And Oubre and Mason haven’t been great from deep lately.

It hasn’t surprised Self, but he has been surprised by some of those stretches, like making six of seven or eight straight.

You shouldn’t evaluate your team by if you make shots you play well, if you don’t you play poorly. No one envisions you’ll shoot 50 percent from 3-point range and hit 10 or 11.

• Kansas has become an average rebounding team in Big 12 play. The Jayhawks have struggled the most on allowing too many offensive rebounds. BU, arguably because of Gathers, is as good an offensive rebounding team as there might be in America.

• Coaching Ellis is great. His personality has come out in the last year or so, and “he’s a stud.” He’s a great ambassador for the school and the program.

There has to be 10 or 12 guys in the Big 12 that deserve to be in the conversation for first-team All-Big 12. Including Mason and Ellis. OU’s Buddy Hield, Iowa State’s Georges Niang and Gathers, among others all immediately come to mind.

— Listen to the complete press conference: Bill Self talks Baylor, rebounding and playing inside-out

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Getting to know No. 21-ranked Baylor

Baylor head coach Scott Drew watches from the sideline during a Jayhawk run in the second half on Monday, Jan. 20, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Baylor head coach Scott Drew watches from the sideline during a Jayhawk run in the second half on Monday, Jan. 20, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

Given the depth and quality of the Big 12 this season, it somehow seems appropriate Kansas will begin its conference title defense on the road against a top-25 team.

These are the exact types of games the Jayhawks will have to win in order to extend their regular-season championship run to 11 years in a row.

For No. 12 KU, the journey begins Wednesday night at No. 21 Baylor.

Scott Drew, who is 3-13 against Bill Self’s Jayhawks since taking over in Waco, Texas, has coached BU to 12 straight victories at the Ferrell Center. Wouldn’t you know it, the Bears’ last home loss came to Kansas on Feb. 4, 2014.

Baylor has only surrendered 56.1 points a game this season (13th in the nation) and has a field-goal percentage defense of 37.7% (28th nationally). What’s more, the Bears have held their opponents to an average of 13.0 points below their season scoring averages.

In BU’s Big 12 opener, though, the previously stingy Bears lost 73-63 at Oklahoma (2-0 in Big 12 after throttling Texas 70-49 on Big Monday).

It’s time to meet the Baylor players Kansas will have to hold back.

BEARS STARTERS

No. 35 — Jonathan Motley, 6-9, freshman F

The 230-pound redshirt freshman is a load inside and capable of doing serious damage on the offensive glass (see: 8 offensive boards vs. Texas A&M on Dec. 9).

Motley is said to have added 20 pounds of muscle while sitting out the 2013-14 season — a year he spent battling Isaiah Austin, Cory Jefferson and Rico Gathers at Baylor practices.

The strategy (one rarely seen in major Division I college basketball) seems to have paid off. The first-year forward averages 10.8 points, 4.8 rebounds and 1.6 blocks on the season. But he has come on much stronger of late, leading Baylor in scoring in four of the last five games. In that five-game stretch, Motley is averaging 17.6 points, 6.4 rebounds and 3.2 blocks.

This followed back-to-back games in early December when he fouled out and went scoreless.

In his Big 12 debut this past weekend, Motley scored 24 points and hit 9 of 12 field goals in a loss at Oklahoma.

hoop-math.com nugget: Motley loves finishing inside, where he has 37 field goals at the rim. Keep him away from point-blank range and he makes just 24.4% of his 2-point jumpers and 25% of his 3-pointers.

No. 00 — Royce O’Neale, 6-6, senior F

None by NCAA Tourney

Both Baylor and O’Neale benefited when the forward decided to transfer and become a Bear after playing two seasons at Denver.

He has scored 1,069 points in his career, with 676 rebounds, 329 assists and 134 steals.

As a junior, O’Neale became the first player in Baylor history to produce 200-plus rebounds and 100-plus assists in the same season, and though he doesn’t play in the backcourt he ranked second on the team with 2.9 assists.

Speaking of guard skills, he has made four or more 3-pointers in three games this season.

Just over a week ago, O’Neale (10.3 points, 6.4 rebounds, 3.3 assists) went for a career-high with 23 points on 7-for-9 shooting (5-for-6 from deep) against Norfolk State.

— hoop-math.com nugget: Gathers scores mostly at the rim (20 field goals) and from downtown (19 3-pointers). He makes 66.7% of his takes to the rim.

No. 2 — Rico Gathers, 6-8, junior F

Baylor forward Rico Gathers blocks a shot from Andrew Wiggins, but got called for a foul during the second half of the Jayhawks' win over the Baylor Bears Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2014 at Ferrell Center in Waco, Texas.

Baylor forward Rico Gathers blocks a shot from Andrew Wiggins, but got called for a foul during the second half of the Jayhawks' win over the Baylor Bears Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2014 at Ferrell Center in Waco, Texas. by Mike Yoder

No, that’s not a Baylor football defensive end. That’s BU’s powerfully-built, 275-pound power forward.

Gathers nearly averages a double-double — 9.6 points, 10.6 rebounds — now that he’s a Baylor starter, as a junior. A monster in the paint, and at times impossible to block out, he’s averaging 4.9 offensive rebounds a game — second to Stony Brook’s Jameel Warney in that category.

According to sports-reference.com, the beastly forward controls 20.3% of available offensive rebounds. That’s second in the nation, to Nevada’s AJ West (22.2%).

Gathers’ six double-doubles this season lead the Big 12 and he averages one rebound every 2.8 minutes in his career.

— hoop-math.com nugget: Little surprise here, but Gathers leads Baylor in put-backs. He has scored 27 times on the offensive glass this season (Motley has 15 put-backs) and makes 50% of his put-back tries at the rim.

No. 11 — Lester Medford, 5-10, junior G

None by Baylor Basketball

A junior-college transfer, Medford is similar in size and ability to fellow backcourt mate Kenny Chery. He started five games for Chery when the incumbent guard hurt his foot and dished 30 assists, against seven turnovers.

The combo guard averages 4.1 assists per game (fifth in the Big 12) to go with his 8.3 points.

A double-digit scorer in six games this season, Medford also mixes it up defensively, with 1.7 steals (tied for fifth in the Big 12 with Frank Mason III).

He has hit 17 of his 50 3-point attempts this season (34%), but is coming off a 3-for-6 outing at OU.

— hoop-math.com nugget: Of Baylor’s rotation players, Medford spends the least time taking shots in between the rim and the 3-point arc. Just 14.8% of his shots have been 2-point jumpers, while 35.2% have come at the rim and a whopping 50% have come from long distance.

No. 1 — Kenny Chery, 5-11, senior G

Kansas players Joel Embiid (21) and Wayne Selden defend against a three from Baylor guard Kenny Chery during the first half on Monday, Jan. 20, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas players Joel Embiid (21) and Wayne Selden defend against a three from Baylor guard Kenny Chery during the first half on Monday, Jan. 20, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

Baylor’s primary distributor dishes 4.6 assists per game to go with 8.2 points.

Since missing five consecutive starts (coming off the bench in one) with planter fasciitis, the senior from Montreal has set up his fellow Bears to the tune of 6.8 assists a game in his last four starts, compared to 2.0 turnovers a game.

The point guard channeled his inner scorer at South Carolina, where he poured in 18 of his 20 in the second half to help Baylor win on the road.

Last season, Chery’s .879 free-throw percentage led the Big 12, and he has made 12 of 15 (80 percent) so far as a senior, playing in nine games.

— hoop-math.com nugget: Just 18.1% of his shots so far have come at the rim. Chery has taken 25 2-point jumpers and is making just 28.6% of those tries. He’s 12-for-34 from deep.

BEARS BENCH

No. 21 — Taurean Prince, 6-7, junior F

None by Baylor Basketball

A starter for five games this season while Chery recovered, he has easily transitioned into a stellar sixth man. Prince’s 12.0 points per game and 21 3-pointers lead the Bears. He has made that many bombs on just 39 attempts — giving him the Big 12’s top percentage of 53.8%.

With nine double-digit scoring games, he leads Baylor (Gathers, Medford and Motley all have six such performances).

Prince played 30 minutes at Oklahoma, and shot the ball well — 6-for-12 from the floor, including 4-for-8 from 3-point range.

Overall, he has made 50 of 104 shots (48.1%) while providing instant offense.

— hoop-math.com nugget: He can create his own easy points. Only 50% of Prince’s shots at the rim come off assists. His method? Crashing the offensive glass. He has 11 put-backs.

No. 25 — Al Freeman, 6-3, freshman G

Another redshirt freshman (he missed eight weeks with a broken wrist last year), Freeman has scored double-digits off the bench in three of BU’s past five games.

But at Oklahoma, Drew only played Freeman 16 minutes and he went 0-for-3 with one point.

He has yet to start, but averages 6.5 points in 19.3 minutes and has reached the foul line (20-for-29) more often than starting guards Medford and Chery.

— hoop-math.com nugget: Most of his shot attempts, 55.2% actually, come from long range. However, Freeman has connected on just 29.7% of his 3-pointers.

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Bears need big night to achieve first win at fieldhouse

Before the season began — and, really, as recent as a couple of weeks ago — Baylor University's men's basketball team figured to be one of the Big 12 programs capable of challenging league favorites Oklahoma State and Kansas. Or, at the very least, the Bears could make things difficult for the league's elite.

Then conference play began for BU like a smack to the face. After starting the season 12-1, Baylor has dropped three of its last four games, which coincided with the beginning of Big 12 play.

A glance at the conference standings shows Kansas alone at the top, with a 4-0 record, while Baylor is next to last, in ninth (ahead of only 0-5 TCU) with a 1-3 mark.

Back in December, long before their recent slide, the Bears beat Kentucky on a neutral floor. However, they lost to the other ranked teams they faced this season: Syracuse (at the Maui Invitational), at Iowa State and their last game, at home against Oklahoma.

BU's back-to-back losses this past week at Texas Tech and vs. OU dropped the Bears 12 spots in the new AP poll, to No. 24.

In the last seven seasons, Baylor is 20-32 on the road in Big 12 play. So one would figure the last place the Bears would want to play next, given their slump and road woes, is Allen Fieldhouse.

Bad news, Bears. Coach Scott Drew brings his team to Lawrence tonight to face No. 8 KU (13-4, 4-0).

Although Baylor has won two of its last three meetings with Kansas, that success didn't come on the road. If the Bears want to achieve a program first and beat Kansas in Lawrence, where they're 0-11, they'll need productive nights from every one of their top eight players.

Cory Jefferson, No. 34

6-9, 220, jr. forward

Baylors Cory Jefferson (34) fires in a shot over Jeff Withey (5) in KU's 81-58 loss to the Baylor Bears Saturday in Waco.

Baylors Cory Jefferson (34) fires in a shot over Jeff Withey (5) in KU's 81-58 loss to the Baylor Bears Saturday in Waco. by Mike Yoder

A fifth-year senior, Jefferson has emerged as Baylor's most reliable scorer. He has reached double figures in 21 of his previous 24 games (dating back to last season) and has 17 double-doubles in his career, with six coming this season.

Baylor is 35-9 all-time when Jefferson reaches double digits in points, and he averages 13.1 a game this season on 53.1-percent shooting, to go with 8.4 rebounds.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7dCX6-_b8ts

Kenny Cherry, No. 1

5-11, 180, jr. guard

The lead guard contributes 11.9 points a game, but his play-making is even more valuable for Baylor. While Cherry has 16 three-pointers on 51 tries, he leads the team with 5.1 assists an outing.

For 12 straight games, Cherry's assists numbers have outweighed his turnover totals. In the past six games, his assist-to-turnover ratio sits at 28-to-6.

Isaiah Austin, No. 21

7-1, 225, so. center

Kansas guard Travis Releford pulls a rebound away from Baylor center Isaiah Austin during the second half on Monday, Jan. 14, 2013 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Travis Releford pulls a rebound away from Baylor center Isaiah Austin during the second half on Monday, Jan. 14, 2013 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

The largest man in a Baylor uniform does some of his work inside, but he likes to drift out for jumpers, too, and has even taken 10 threes this season, hitting three of them.

Austin wears a prosthetic right eye after his retina detached when he was in junior high, but the rest of his body and his wealth of ability more than make up for that loss. The 7-footer averages 10.4 points, 5.7 rebounds and 2.8 blocks.

In just his second season with Baylor, Austin already ranks sixth in program history with 106 blocks (which ties him with Willie Sublett).

The big man has scored at least 10 points in 10 of his last 11 starts.

Gary Franklin, No. 4

6-2, 190, sr. guard

At 6.6 points a game, Franklin doesn't make a ton of baskets, but chances are when he does it will be from three-point range. A whopping 79 of his 100 career field goals as a member of the Bears have been three-pointers.

Franklin has proven himself as a consistent threat from behind the arc. Going back over his past 44 games, he has made 40 percent of his threes (54 of 135) and he is 27 for 68 this season.

Like most of us hope to achieve, Franklin is getting better with age. He has five double-digit scoring outings in his last 13 games after achieving that only twice in his previous 68 appearances for Baylor.

Royce O'Neale, No. 00

6-6, 220, jr. forward

A transfer from Denver, O'Neale has started the last 10 games for Baylor.

He's averaging 6.1 points, 3.7 rebounds and 2.8 assists. While O'Neale makes 56.5 percent of his field goals, he's a bad free-throw shooter, at 53.2 percent.

O'Neale's ball-handling certainly can't be blamed for Baylor's recent slump, though. In BU's past six games, he has 17 assists against three turnovers.

Baylor bench

Brady Heslip, No. 5

6-2, 180, sr. guard

Kansas players Travis Releford (24) and Jeff Withey get in the face of Baylor guard Brady Heslip during the first half on Monday, Jan. 14, 2013 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas players Travis Releford (24) and Jeff Withey get in the face of Baylor guard Brady Heslip during the first half on Monday, Jan. 14, 2013 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

He puts the shooting in shooting guard. Heslip plays 21.9 minutes a game, but he comes off the bench firing, and his accuracy has a lot to do with Baylor's spot as the top three-point shooting team in the Big 12 (39.3 percent).

The Bears' best three-point marksman, Heslip averages 10.8 points a game this season, and has drained 46 of 99 from downtown (46.5 percent). In fact, he is Baylor's career three-point shooting percentage leader at 42.9.

Fifteen times this season, Heslip has hoisted at least three three-pointers, and in 14 of those games he hit at least two from deep.

In the 2012 NCAA Tournament, Helip cashed in nine from long range to lead Baylor to the Sweet 16.

Taurean Prince, No. 35

6-7, 210, so. forward

In Baylor's lone Big 12 victory, over TCU, Prince scored a career high 23 points. He's averaging 8.5 points and 3.4 rebounds this season without starting a single game.

In his last six games, Prince totaled 82 points on just 50 shot attempts. The efficient forward tends to start hot, too. In his last five games he has made 17 of his 25 field goals before halftime.

Rico Gathers, No. 2

6-8, 270, so. forward

Kansas forward Perry Ellis wrestles for a rebound with Baylor players Rico Gathers, left, and Pierre Jackson during the second half on Monday, Jan. 14, 2013 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas forward Perry Ellis wrestles for a rebound with Baylor players Rico Gathers, left, and Pierre Jackson during the second half on Monday, Jan. 14, 2013 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

Baylor's second-best rebounder, Gathers averages 7.7 boards a game. Offensively, he contributes 7.7 points on 53.6-percent shooting (45-for-84).

During Baylor's last 10 games, he's averaging 10.3 points and 8.9 rebounds, and Gathers has posted double figures in six of his last eight games.

His 60 offensive rebounds lead Baylor, the top team on the offensive glass in the Big 12 (14.4 a game, 43.5 offensive rebounding percentage).

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