A Closer Look at Baylor

BadgerNation takes a closer look at Baylor, the Badgers' Sweet 16 opponent this Thursday night in Anaheim, California.

MADISON - For a No. 6 seed in the NCAA tournament, and a team who many picked to be upset in the first round by No.11 Nebraska, Baylor certainly has the look of a team that is worthy of being one of the final 16 teams competing for a national championship.

Not sold? Simply look at the numbers from their third-round win over third-seed Creighton and one of the best scorers in the history of college basketball in Doug McDermott.

Despite ranking 79th in the country in defensive efficiency, according to Ken Pomeroy, Baylor held Creighton – at the time the most efficient offense in the country – to only 55 points in 59 possessions, including a season-low 20.8 percent from 3-point range. Creighton came into the game averaging 79.5 points per game and shooting 41.4 percent from 3-point range, but left with an 85-55 defeat.

Averaging 27 points on the season, McDermott finished with 15 but had just three in the first half as Baylor built a 20-point lead.

Offensively Baylor put all five starters in double figures, shot 63.8 percent overall, 61.1 percent from the 3-point line and outscored Creighton 41-15 outside the paint, including 25-3 in the first half. The Bears assisted on 11 of their 15 field goals outside the paint.

Finishing the regular season tied for sixth place in the 10-team Big 12 conference, Baylor has won 12 of its last 14 games, passing the eye test with its 1-3-1 zone and its balance with shooters and post players.

With Baylor having trailed for only 7:24 of game time out of 240 minutes played in six postseason games this season, No.2 seed Wisconsin will have its hands full Thursday night at 6:45 p.m. CT at the Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif.

Here's a closer look at Baylor and Coach Scott Drew:

Head Coach Scott Drew

Growing up in a basketball family, Drew never played basketball beyond the JV level at Valparaiso High School, but cut his teeth coaching as an assistant for nine years under his father, Homer Drew, before taking over the program in 2002.

After leading Valparaiso to a regular season conference championship and a NIT bid, Drew was hired in late August 2003 to clean up the Baylor program reeling from the scandal surrounding the murder of Baylor player Patrick Dennehy by a former player Carlton Dotson.

Drew took over a program that saw most of its top players transfer because of the scandal, not to mention a program on probation until 2010, scholarships reduced, postseason play cancelled in 2004 and only conference games allowed in 2006.

After a combined record of 21-53 his first three seasons, Baylor finished 21-9 overall and 9-7 in the Big 12, its best finish since joining the league in 1996 and securing an NCAA berth for the first time since 1988. It also earned Drew a new 10-year contract.

Since then, Drew has led Baylor to Elite Eight appearances in 2010 and 2012, losing both times to the eventual national champion. Last season Baylor failed to make the NCAA tournament, but ended up winning the NIT.

The all-time winningest coach in Baylor history with 204 wins, Drew has led Baylor to 20-win seasons in six of the last seven years after the Bears had only three 20-win seasons in their first 101 seasons of basketball.

Starting five

Junior Forward – No. 00: Royce O'Neale (6-6, 220)

In his first season since transferring from Denver, where he started all 32 games and averaged 11.2 points per game, O'Neale has started the last 30 games after coming off the bench in the first seven of the season. In his last 14 games, O'Neale is averaging 9.6 points and 8.1 rebounds, including recording double digits in rebounds in six of the last nine games.

Junior Guard – No. 1: Kenny Chery (5-11, 180)

A junior college All-American who transferred to?Baylor from State Fair (Mo.) Community College, Chery leads the team with 4.9 assists per game, while ranking second with 28.8 minutes per game and third with 11.5 points per game. In his last 13 games, he's averaging 14.5 points, 5.1 assists and 3.0 rebounds in over 32 minutes on the court. That run started with Chery recording the sixth triple-double in school history – 20 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds – in a double overtime win against NCAA tournament team Kansas State.

Senior Guard – No. 5: Brady Heslip (6-2, 180)

The Ben Brust of the Bears, Heslip has made a school record 117 3-pointers this season. Averaging 7.7 3-pointers over the last 18 games (since he joined the starting lineup), Heslip is a better 3-pointer shooter away from Waco, as he is shooting 50 percent (67-for-134) on the road compared to 43 percent (50-for-116) at home. His 43.8 career 3-point field goal percentage ranks third in Big 12 history and first at Baylor. Heslip hit a game-high 5 3-pointers in the win over Creighton Sunday.

Sophomore Center – No. 21: Isaiah Austin (7-1, 225)

Austin hasn't let a prosthetic right eye stop him from being one of the best shot blockers in the country. Only the third Baylor player named to the Big 12 All-Defensive Team, Austin is third in school history with 175 career blocks, and is averaging over three a game this season. He set a Big 12 championship record with 18 blocks in four games and went 7-for-11 from the field in the victory over Creighton.

"He's one of the longest players we play against," said UW forward Frank Kaminsky. "His arms, probably an eight-foot wing span, something like that. He's a good player. He's a good defensive player. He's got those long arms, and he moves well. On offense, he's able to get a bunch of stuff because of his height. Hopefully, we can neutralize that."

Senior Forward – No. 34: Cory Jefferson (6-9, 220)

Leading the conference with 14 double-doubles, Jefferson is another player who has caught fire down the stretch. In the last 13 games, Jefferson is averaging 16.1 points, 9.0 rebounds and has registered seven double-doubles, as the Bears have gone 11-2. Like Austin, Jefferson is a formidable presence in the lane, as he is fourth in Baylor history with 166 career blocks and has a career field goal percentage of 54.4 percent.

Off the Bench

2 Sophomore forward Rico Gathers (6-8, 270) - Fourth nationally in offensive rebs/minute (0.16) and sixth in total rebs/min (0.38)

4 Senior Guard Gary Franklin (6-2, 190) - 95 of 126 FGs made at Baylor (75%) have been from 3-point range.

35 Sophomore Forward Taurean Prince (6-7, 210) - Played 250 minutes in Big 12 play this season after only 42 minutes in 2012-13.

Before Creighton

No.6 Baylor 74, No.11 Nebraska 60 (San Antonio, TX)

Although shooting just 40.5 percent from the floor, Baylor went 38-for-48 from the free-throw line, the most made free throws it's had in six years. By comparison, Nebraska went 10-for-16 from the line. Corey Jefferson scored a team-high 16 points on 6-for-12 from the floor, Isaiah Austin scored 13 points and Brady Heslip added 12 points going a perfect 10-for-10 from the line. Royce O'Neale had a game-high 10 rebounds.

When it's going good

The defense has been really good down the stretch, which was one of the big improvements from the program after the 2-8 start to conference play and what happened against Creighton. They share the ball really well and can be an effective inside-outside team. Baylor likes to get post touches and get the ball into the paint. From there, they either turn and shoot or kick the ball out to the perimeter guards for a jump shot.

When it's not

Looking at the stretch to begin conference play, Baylor committed a plethora of turnovers and couldn't stop anybody, giving up 74.8 points per game and opponents shooting around 50 percent. The Big 12 is similar to the Big Ten, which means poor defense or sloppy ball handling will result in an up-hill climb.

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