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BYU (24-11) vs. Baylor (21-14)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Tuesday, April 2, 7 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Madison Square Garden (19,763) -- New York, New York. Television: ESPN2. NIT Record: BYU 15-8, Baylor 7-4. Series Record: BYU leads, 5-4.
GAME NOTES: The BYU Cougars will look to avenge a regular-season loss as they tangle with the Baylor Bears in the semifinals of the National Invitation Tournament at Madison Square Garden.
The winner of this game advances to take on either Iowa or Maryland for the tournament title on Thursday, April 4.
BYU holds a 5-4 all-time series lead against Baylor, but it lost, 79-64 to the Bears earlier this season in Waco.
The Cougars have won each of their NIT games by double digits. First they defeated Washington (90-79) and Mercer (90-71) at home. Then, they took their talents on the road to take down Southern Miss, 79-62. BYU's strong showing in the NIT is serving as redemption from their early exit from the West Coast Conference Tournament due to an upset loss to San Diego. The tandem of Tyler Haws and Brandon Davies has continued to provide plenty of scoring for BYU in the postseason. BYU is in the midst of its 11th appearance in the NIT, winning titles during the 1951 and 1966 seasons.
BYU consistently relied on Haws during the regular season and he usually answered the call as he led the WCC in scoring at 20.9 ppg. Davies posted 17.6 points and 7.8 rebounds per contest while sophomore point guard Matt Carlino added 11.3 points and 4.7 assists per outing. The most valuable performance from the quarterfinals came from outside the trio though, as Brock Zylstra accounted for 23 points, 10 rebounds and four assists for the third-seeded Cougars, shooting 5-of-9 behind the 3-point line along the way. Carlino contributed 15 points, nine assists and six rebounds, followed by Davies, who logged a double-double with 12 points and a team-high 13 boards in the triumph. Haws made his mark with a game-high 25 points.
Baylor has a sensational scorer of its own in senior point guard Pierre Jackson. The floor general has scored in double figures in 41 of his last 42 games and led the Big 12 in scoring (19.7) and assists (6.9). No player from a power six conference has led the league in points and assists since Arizona's Jason Terry in the 1998-99 campaign. Scott Drew's Bears have beaten Long Beach State (112-66), Arizona State (89-86) and Providence (79-68) during their NIT run.
Against the Friars, Cory Jefferson scored a game-high 26 points on 10-of-14 shooting from the floor. Jackson registered a double-double for the Bears with 20 points and a game-high 13 assists, adding seven rebounds as well. Rico Gathers checked in with eight points and a team-best 10 rebounds. Freshman center Isaiah Austin tallied just five points on 1-of-7 shooting from the field, but he contributed 13 points and six rebounds in both prior games. Austin is an NBA prospect due to his rare combination of shooting touch and a 7-foot frame.
The Bears had no problem taking down BYU earlier this season, but the Cougars are playing at a much higher level now. BYU seems to have multiple options on the offensive end, but it lacks the athleticism to keep up with Baylor for 40 minutes. Davies will need to overpower Austin and Jefferson on the inside while avoiding foul trouble for keep the Cougars' season alive.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Baylor 78, BYU 74
04/02 11:41:38 ET
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