By Lucas Gulotta, Associate College Basketball Editor
FACTS & STATS: Site: TD Arena (5,100) -- Charleston, South Carolina. Television: ESPNU. Home Record: Baylor 2-0, BC 1-0. Away Record: Baylor 0-0, BC 0-0. Neutral Record: Baylor 0-0, BC 0-0. Conference Record: Baylor 0-0, BC 0-0. Series Record: First-ever meeting.
GAME NOTES: The 16th-ranked Baylor Bears take their show on the road for the first time this season as they square off with the Boston College Eagles at TD Arena in the first round of the Charleston Classic.
The winner of this matchup advances to face the victor of the Dayton-Colorado matchup that takes place immediately beforehand.
Although it lost multiple players from last season's 30-8 squad, Baylor has been tremendous early on this season. The Bears defeated C.J. McCollum and the Lehigh Mountain Hawks, 99-77, in their season opener before demolishing Jackson State by a score of 78-47. Coach Scott Drew's team has averaged 21.5 assists and made 57.7 percent of its field goal attempts through two games.
Boston College was one of the bottom dwellers of the ACC last season as it struggled on both ends of the floor. Steve Donahue's squad won just nine games in his second year at the helm of the program, but he has more reason to be optimistic in season three after his squad's 84-70 win over FIU in its season opener. The Eagles outrebounded the Panthers 46-28 in their season debut.
Although he was often overshadowed by the high-flying Quincy Acy and silky smooth Perry Jones III last season, Pierre Jackson was the motor of Baylor's highly successful 2011-2012 team. The lightning quick point guard is not going to fly under anyone's radar this season with averages of 19.5 points, 9.5 assists, and 2.5 steals per contest. Jackson is surrounded by talent once again. Baylor swept the Big 12's first edition of weekly honors as Cory Jefferson earned the Player of the Week award and Isaiah Austin was deemed the Rookie of the Week. Jefferson was a key reserve on last season's team, but he has evolved into much more than a role player. The junior forward opened up the season with 26 points and 13 boards versus Lehigh. He then produced 14 points, seven rebounds, and six blocks against JSU. Austin is one of the top freshman centers in the nation. He is already leading the team with 22 ppg on 83.3 percent shooting. However, the freshman center is currently being hindered by an ankle injury which may keep him out of action. With three talented players surrounding him in the starting lineup once again, it is just a matter of time before spot-up shooter Brady Heslip begins punishing opponents from a distance.
BC struggled last season as its young roster lacked discipline and leadership. The Eagles started four freshmen and one transfer, which led to a 59.9 ppg average. A lack of leadership no longer seems to be an issue as Ryan Anderson emerged as a future star in the team's opener. The sophomore forward set new career-highs with 29 points and 17 rebounds against FIU. Dennis Clifford played very well during the 18 minutes he saw. The sophomore center scored 12 points, grabbed five rebounds, and blocked three shots. He is good enough defensively to at least frustrate Austin. Patrick Heckmann and Olivier Hanlan also had 12 points each in the team's first outing.
Although BC is clearly a much better team this year, it still has a way to go before achieving the kind of success Jared Dudley and Craig Smith reached while in Chestnut Hill. Baylor managed to make it all the way to Big 12 play without a loss last season. A repeat of that feat is not out of reach with the great group of talent on the new look Bears.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Baylor 88, Boston College 70
11/15 10:34:00 ET
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