If there are any questions about No. 11 Baylor’s readiness for the upcoming gauntlet that is the Big 12 Conference season, the Bears are answering them on a game-by-game basis.
The latest such affirmation came on Saturday when the Bears beat previously undefeated Arizona 63-58.
And yet for all that good work, Baylor (7-1) will have to step things up a notch on Tuesday when it hosts No. 18 Butler, another team without a loss and the Bears’ third ranked opponent over the first five weeks of the season.
“It’s one of those things where you are going to have, (in) conference games, one-possession games, and the key is to make sure that one mistake or one play doesn’t lead to another,” Baylor coach Scott Drew told reporters after the Arizona win.
“This game was similar to Washington (which handed Baylor its lone loss) where we had a lead, and we weren’t able to finish them off at the end of the game. We did a better job (against Arizona), so we are growing and learning.”
MaCio Teague finished with 19 points to lead three Baylor players in double figures against the Wildcats. Freddie Gillespie had an impressive double-double with 17 points and 13 rebounds, and guard Jared Butler finished with 13 points.
The then-No. 12 Wildcats were the second-highest ranked nonconference opponent Baylor ever beat at home, behind only a win over No. 7 Xavier in 2016.
The Bears led by as many as 12 points in the second half — and at least six for much of the final 20 minutes — until Arizona got hot from 3-point range and made a slew of free throws to get back in the game.
“It was really big getting us to the free-throw line because that’s how they got back into the game,” Drew said. “It was important. But the big thing was down the stretch they were held to 2-for-19 from the field.”
Baylor has won six straight games, its longest nonconference win streak since starting 15-0 in 2016-17. The Bears are 2-0 this season vs. AP Top 25 teams.
Butler heads to Waco after defeating Florida 76-62 in Indianapolis on Friday as Aaron Thompson and Seam McDermott scored 16 points apiece. Thompson added a game-high seven assists, and the Bulldogs assisted on 19 of their 25 made baskets in the game.
“Nobody cares who scores, we’re just trying to get the best shot on that possession,” Thompson said. “As long as we are getting good shots, everyone is happy.”
Jordan Tucker scored 13 points off the bench for the Bulldogs, and Kamar Baldwin added 12.
The Bulldogs are 9-0 for the first time since starting 10-0 in 2006-07. Their resume features wins over Minnesota and Stanford as well as a 3-0 record against the Southeastern Conference with wins over Missouri, Mississippi and Florida.
The result against the Gators stretched the nation’s longest home nonconference winning streak to 56.
“I’m proud of our guys for fighting every possession.” Butler coach LaVall Jordan said. “Nineteen assists on 25 field goals shows how connected this group is. We didn’t handle (Florida’s) pressure well late, but it’s great to come away with a win while still having some things we can learn from.”
The game against Baylor will be Butler’s fifth in a row against a power-conference opponent, with four of them away from home.
–Field Level Media