Northwestern State (4-5) at (12) Baylor (8-1)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Wednesday, December 18, 9:30 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Ferrell Center (10,347) -- Waco, Texas. Television: FSN+, MASN2. Home Record: NWST 3-1, Baylor 4-0. Away Record: NWST 1-4, Baylor 0-0. Neutral Record: NWST 0-0, Baylor 4-1. Conference Record: NWST 0-0, Baylor 0-0. Series Record: Baylor leads, 6-1.
GAME NOTES: The 12th-ranked Baylor Bears open up a season-long four-game homestand on Wednesday night, as they welcome the Northwestern State Demons to the Ferrell Center.
Northwestern State, last season's NCAA Tournament representative from the Southland Conference, has opened up the new campaign just 4-5, which includes a 1-4 record on the road. The Demons most recently snapped a two-game losing streak on Saturday afternoon with a 116-76 home victory over Louisiana College.
Baylor has been nothing short of outstanding this season, as it sits at 8-1 with its only setback coming to nationally-ranked Syracuse in the championship game of the Maui Invitational, 74-67. The Bears' crowning achievement this year came in their most recent game, defeating nationally-ranked Kentucky on a neutral floor on Dec. 6, 67-62.
Baylor holds a 6-1 advantage over Northwestern State in the all-time series, including a win in the most recent matchup in November of 2002 (82-54).
The Demons' most recent matchup was never in question, as they shot a blistering 60 percent from the field while holding Louisiana College to only 39.4 percent on their way to the 40-point victory. Brison White led the charge with 23 points on 10-of-16 from the field, while DeQuan Hicks tallied a double-double with 21 points and 11 rebounds. Tyler Washington and Patrick Robinson both came off the bench to net 13 points, and Jalan West rounded out the balanced effort with nine points, seven assists and five steals.
Generating offense has not been a problem for Northwestern State this season, as it scores 89.0 points per game, but its up-tempo style of play leaves it susceptible on the other end of the floor in allowing 90.0 points per tilt. On top of scoring a team-best 17.8 points per game, West gets his teammates involved with nearly six assists per outing. Hicks (15.9 ppg, 6.9 rpg) is a mainstay in the frontcourt, while Brison White (13.1 ppg) and Zikiteran Woodley (12.8 ppg, 5.0 rpg) are also regular contributors.
The Bears trailed Kentucky by as many as nine points midway through the second half but managed to put together a 17-5 run to take control of the game down the stretch. They made their presence felt by shooting an impressive 47.3 percent from the field while also making claim to a firm 41-25 advantage in the rebounding battle. Kenny Cherry was the catalyst in the victory with 18 points and five assists, Cory Jefferson and Isaiah Austin poured in 13 points apiece, and Rico Gathers came off the bench to contribute 13 rebounds and three steals.
Baylor's dominance has been well established this season, as it outshoots its opponents from the field, 49.9 percent to 38.9 percent for a +10.9 scoring margin, but while its rebounding margin is one of the best in the country (+12.3 ppg), it's able to level the playing field by turning the ball over 4.2 times more per game than its opponents. Jefferson (13.4 ppg, 8.7 rpg) and Austin (10.8 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 3.4 bpg) formulate one of the most imposing frontcourt duos in the country. Brady Heslip (11.7 ppg) is the first man off the bench and has drained 26-of-52 from beyond the arc. Chery brings 11.6 points per game to the table on 51.3 percent field goal shooting.
Northwestern State's struggles on the road are well documented, and while it has the capacity to fill up the scoreboard, its defensive effort is nowhere near strong enough to slow down Baylor's balanced attack.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Baylor 100, Northwestern State 73
12/18 10:31:11 ET