Northwestern (6-2) at Baylor (5-2)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Tuesday, December 4, 9 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Ferrell Center (10,284) -- Waco, Texas. Television: ESPN2. Home Record: Northwestern 4-2, Baylor 2-1. Away Record: Northwestern 0-0, Baylor 1-0. Neutral Record: Northwestern 2-0, Baylor 2-1. Conference Record: Northwestern 0-0, Baylor 0-0. Series Record: Baylor leads, 1-0.
GAME NOTES: The Northwestern Wildcats will try to get back on track as they visit the Baylor Bears for a non-conference duel at the Ferrell Center.
Bill Carmody's Wildcats had the momentum of their 6-0 start erased by back-to- back home losses to Maryland (77-57) and Illinois-Chicago (50-44). Northwestern returned to Illinois as the champions of the South Padre Island Invitational, but it allowed a season-high 77 points to the Terps before scoring a season-low of 44 versus the Flames. After shooting 47 percent or better from the floor in their first four games, the Wildcats have been held under 40 percent on their field goal tries in their last four games.
The Bears surprised many in their last outing by picking up a 64-55 decision over the Kentucky Wildcats in Lexington. Baylor's win at No. 8 Kentucky was its first-ever non-conference road win against a top-25 team. It snapped Kentucky's nation-leading 55-game home winning streak and gave the Wildcats their first home loss under fourth-year coach John Calipari. The win improved the team's record to 5-2 overall. Coach Scott Drew's squad was a big underdog heading to Rupp Arena after it fell 63-59 at home to the College of Charleston the week before.
Baylor won the only previous meeting with Northwestern as the seventh ranked Bears posted a 69-41 win in Evanston Dec. 4, 2011.
Northwestern is outscoring its opponents by an average of 11.2 ppg this season despite its inconsistent play. The Wildcats went ice cold after halftime in their loss to UIC. They managed to make only 29.2 percent of their field goals including just 1-of-8 beyond the arc over the final 20 minutes. The Wildcats also made 10-of-20 at the charity stripe in the contest and committed 16 turnovers in the loss. Senior swingman Drew Crawford paced the team with 18 points and Reggie Hearn finished just shy of a double-double with 10 points and nine boards. Hearn (13.9 ppg) and Crawford (13.8) are neck-and-neck for the team's scoring lead. Sophomore point guard Dave Sobolewski has been solid with 10 points, 4.4 assists, and 2.3 rebounds per contest.
Baylor held the Wildcats to just 30 percent shooting, their lowest its ever finished a contest with under Calipari. The Bears were much more efficient as they drained 40.7 percent of their field goal attempts and scored 23 points off of turnovers. Drew's team played as a unit to pick up the win as all five starters scored in double figures. Senior floor general Pierre Jackson led the way with 17 points, seven assists, seven rebounds, and four steals. Jackson is leading the Big 12 in scoring (19.9 ppg) and assists (6.4 apg). Senior forward Cory Jefferson and freshman center Isaiah Austin make up a powerful frontcourt tandem for Baylor. Spot up shooter Brady Heslip and defensive specialist A.J. Walton round out the starting five.
Northwestern frequently employs a 1-3-1 zone on the defensive end of the floor. The Wildcats may be forced out of their comfort zone by the shooting of Heslip and Jackson. Austin and Jefferson should be able to give Baylor a big edge in the rebounding battle which tends to lead to similar advantages on the scoreboard.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Baylor 72, Northwestern 62
12/04 10:53:34 ET