Baylor Coach Bullish On His Bears

Comments from Baylor's Scott Drew are featured as his team prepares to play in the NIT quarter-finals at Auburn on Tuesday night.

Auburn, Ala.--Baylor coach Scott Drew says his team is playing well as it heads into Tuesday evening's NIT round three game vs. the Auburn Tigers.

The Bears come into Auburn with plenty of momentum after whipping Virginia Tech 84-66 on Saturday in Blacksburg, Va., to set up the matchup with Auburn. The winner of Tuesday's 6 p.m. CDT game heads to New York City for the semi-finals of the NIT.

Baylor took control of the game early on Saturday and had no trouble disposing of the Hokies from the Atlantic Coast Conference.

"Those first 30 minutes were as well as we have played all year or maybe as well as we've played since we've been here," Drew says. "We were up 28 points against an ACC team on the road.

"We played good offensively and defensively," he said. "They made a run, but again, that is why you have a big lead so you can overcome that."

The Bears were strong in pre-conference play, jumping into the Top 25 before slumping to 6-11 record in league play. The Bears then reached the finals of the Big 12 Tournament before losing to Missouri.

"The biggest thing is when we started losing games, we lost some confidence," Drew says. "Also the pressure that we had put on ourselves to have a great conference season. Once the conference tournament began, we were able to put that behind us.

‘After the win against Nebraska (in the Big 12 Tournament) we were able to get some confidence and with each win we have gotten more confident and we're back to playing like we did at the beginning of the year," Drew says. "There is always four seasons: your non-conference; your conference; your conference tournament and your postseason so we are trying to make three of the four real good ones."

Auburn brings a 24-11 record into Tuesday's game and has won 11 of its last 13 games. Auburn has NIT wins over UT-Martin and Tulsa. Baylor is 22-14.

"Auburn is very athletic--similar to some of the Big 12 teams that are more perimeter-oriented like we saw up in Oklahoma," Drew says. "They play a lot of guards and like to play fast and apply pressure to cause you into turnovers.

"The good thing is that the Big 12 prepared us for anyone we will face in the postseason. Their play is similar to Oklahoma State; they play four guards. They have Missouri's type pressure on defense."

Baylor is normally a man-to-man team on defense, but has changed its style in postseason play.

"One reason we went to the zone was because we played three games in four days and we felt we needed the zone to be effective," Baylor's coach says. "The zone defense has been very effective. We have been very active and, because of that, we have stayed with it.

"It has definitely helped us on the defensive end and kept us fresher on the offensive end because man-to-man takes more out of you. During the course of the season, we played man and focused on trying to get our man-to-man better, which we have done in the last couple of years.

"We used to play a lot more zone, but it was a situation in the conference tournament where it was good for us and that is why we have carried it over. The zone has also helped keep us out of foul trouble."

Coach Jeff Lebo's Auburn team can earn the team's first-ever trip to Madison Square Garden for the NIT's Final Four if it can defeat the visiting Bears in what will be the final home game for seniors Quantez Robertson, Korvotney Barber and Rasheem Barrett.

The game will be televised nationally on ESPN.


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