Baylor a Different Team with Improved Chery

There's no secret that Baylor can potentially be a very dangerous team when it gets things rolling.

The Bears were ranked in the top 10 earlier this season and have shown it can win games against top-tier opponents like Kentucky. But even with all that talent, a five-game losing streak early in Big 12 Conference play dropped Baylor out of the rankings and quickly off the NCAA tournament radar.

But in its recent resurgence that has planted the Bears back on the bubble heading into their game against West Virginia this weekend, there has been one factor that WVU head coach Bob Huggins thinks nobody should overlook.

"It's (point guard Kenny) Chery. I don't think there's any doubt about it," Huggins said. "He started out playing really well and then got hurt and didn't play quite as well for a stretch. Now he's starting to play really well again.

"When he plays well, they're really good."

The junior point guard is averaging 10 points and four assists per game this season, but has started to heat up during Baylor's current three-game winning streak, that has included big wins against Oklahoma State and Kansas State in close games.

In those two wins, Chery averaged 15 points, six rebounds and eight assists - including a 20-point, 12-assist, 10-rebound showing against K-State that gave him the sixth triple-double in Baylor history.

"It was nice having him healthy," said Baylor coach Scott Drew after the Kansas State win. "Against their pressure, you really needed someone to create for themselves and their teammates, and Kenny really did that. You needed someone with his speed and quickness to track down long rebounds."

In the first meeting between WVU and Baylor, Chery scored 10 points and had four assists.

It hasn't just been Chery's play that has improved recently. With the point guard healthy and back at close to 100 percent, the entire Baylor lineup has seen a boost simply because of the extra attention that teams have to give the point guard when he's on the floor.

It will be no different Saturday when Baylor travels to Morgantown while the Mountaineers try to pick up another win against Baylor.

With Chery and fellow guard Brady Heslip playing well, it forces teams to put more defensive pressure on the two of them - leaving less attention for the Bears' excellent frontcourt of Isaiah Austin, Cory Jefferson and Rico Gathers.

"When Kenny Chery plays you can't get help, so they can get isolated," Huggins said. "Austin's a talented guy. Really, all three of those guys are talented. I just think when Chery plays well, the focus comes off of those bigs."


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