In the midst of a 12-day layoff to give the players time off for finals, the Baylor Bears will get back on the court tonight to face off against the Northwestern State Demons. Baylor (7-1) comes into the game ranked 12th in the AP poll and 15th in the coaches' poll after its upset win over Kentucky in Arlington, TX. Northwestern State is 4-5 on the year after losses to LSU, Louisiana-Monroe, Louisiana-Lafayette, Louisiana Tech and Memphis. The Demons do have a win against Auburn though, which sticks out in a sea of games against directional Louisiana schools.
|Date||Wednesday, Dec. 18 | 8:30 p.m. CT|
|Location||Waco, Texas; Ferrell Center (10,284)|
|TV||FOX Sports Southwest Plus|
|TV Talent||John Morris (pxp), Jim Haller (color)|
|Radio||ESPN Central Texas|
|Online Audio||Listen Online|
|Live Stats||Baylor Notes |Northwestern State Notes|
The Bears will have a distinct size advantage, as only DeQuan Hicks is a major contributor with good size at 6-foot-7. Outside of him, they have a few 6-foot-5 guys that share the post and their backup center Marvin Frazier Jr. who is 6-foot-8. The Demons have three seniors in the starting lineup and are a team with a balanced scoring load, similar to the Bears. They have four players averaging between 12.8 and 17.8 points per game, led by Jalan West. This is a deep NSU team, with 11 guys averaging more than 10 minutes per game, though starter Gary Stewart has been out injured for a few games now.
Keys to the Game
1. Slow the game down – The Demons are an apt name for how coach Mike McConathy wants his team to play. They press and attack for 40 minutes. This is the fastest tempo team in the country according to KenPom. They use a full court press to force turnovers or persuade the opposition to take a rushed or hurried shot. Their offense is where they are even quicker though. They take just 13 seconds on their average offensive possession (2nd shortest in the nation), while the Bears take 19.1 seconds (15th longest). Defensively they are still great, but not as quick as when they have the ball (15.7 seconds, 12th shortest). This is a team that puts a fast-paced team like VCU to shame.
With their tempo, they have a high scoring offense, getting 89 points per game. They just have to take a lot of shots to get those points, converting on just 27.8% of their 3-point attempts, and 49.7% on their 2-point attempts. Those rank 323nd and 143rd in the country, so their points mainly come as a result of sheer volume.
2. Beat them on the glass – A bi-product of the Northwestern State pace is their complete lack of offensive or defensive rebounding. Their guards are pushing down the court already leaving the post players to do most of the heavy work. The Demons' raw rebounding totals are respectable, as they have the 151st most rebounds in the country. However, that is again a result of the fast tempo and the sheer number of rebounding chances. They rank just 273rd in offensive rebound % rate in the country and that is their strength. They are an abysmal 326th in defensive rebound rate. Baylor should be able to completely out class the Demons on the glass and have a huge second chance point night.
3. Control the Turnovers – Against most teams, this will be something for the Bears to do a much better job at. They are currently 9th worst in the country in turnover margin at -4.7. For a team as good as the Bears are, that is just horrendous. Northwestern State is on the complete other end of the spectrum. They force a ton of turnovers and don't commit too many themselves resulting in the 9th best margin in the country (5.4). If there is one area that could allow a team as talented as the Bears to lose to someone like Northwestern State, it would be a 20+ turnover game that just gives the Demons way too many free points.
KenPom.com – Baylor wins 89-71 (93% chance for Baylor victory)
Massey.com – Baylor wins 92-72 (96% chance for Baylor victory)
Tim Watkins BearsIllustrated.com Writer– Kentucky wins 98-65
I see a dominating effort on the glass carrying the Bears to an easy victory. Cory Jefferson has a 20+ point night with more than 15 rebounds as the Bears offense picks up where it left off against Kentucky with excellent ball movement and timely shot making. However, with the pace being up-tempo, the Bears will strike quickly when the opportunity presents itself, especially with lobs, dunks and open 3-pointers from Gary Franklin and Brady Heslip.