No. 16 Baylor faced its first two tests of the NCAA basketball season last week - and failed them both. The Bears will look to regain the momentum they had built earlier in the season as they host Sam Houston State on Monday night.
Baylor reeled off five consecutive victories to open the campaign, but dropped a 76-63 decision to Xavier before suffering a 69-62 setback against Wichita State that ended the Bears’ 46-game nonconference home winning streak. The Shockers broke a late tie with a game-ending 7-0 run while making 10-of-16 attempts from 3-point range against Baylor’s vaunted zone defense. “Defensively, we could have done some things a little bit better, identify shooters and get out to them a little quicker,” Baylor coach Scott Drew said after the game. “But, you’ve got to credit them for making the shots. Ten for 16, that’s hard to do if there’s no defense on you, so that was the big difference.” Sam Houston State has won three straight, most recently a 77-54 triumph against NAIA’s St. Thomas (Texas).
TV: 8 p.m. ET, Fox Sports Southwest
ABOUT SAM HOUSTON STATE (5-3): The Bearkats have been doing it with defense so far in 2017-18 - they rank tied for sixth nationally in fewest points per game allowed at 58.5, and have held opponents below the 60-point plateau in six of eight games. Senior forward Christopher Galbreath Jr. leads Sam Houston State in scoring (13.6 points per game) and rebounding (7.8) and has reached double digits in points in each of his last seven games. John Dewey III adds 9.9 points and a team-high 4.6 assists; he dished out a season-best 10 helpers in a Nov. 22 win over Central Michigan but has just 18 in four games since.
ABOUT BAYLOR (5-2): Offense is an issue for the Bears, who rank outside the top-200 in Division I in scoring at 73.6 points per game despite sitting just outside the top third in the nation in field-goal percentage (46.1). “As every team progresses, we want to get good, better, best, and we’ll get better shooting the right shots,” Drew said of Baylor’s offense, which stumbled to a 37.3-percent success rate from the field in the loss to the Shockers while converting just 5-of-21 attempts from long range. That showing was even worse than an uninspiring 5-of-16 performance from deep in the previous loss to Xavier.
1. Baylor forces just 10.7 turnovers per game; only nine Division I teams average fewer.
2. Bears scoring leader Manu Lecomte (17.3 ppg) has just 35 points on 12-of-34 shooting over his past three games.
3. Bearkats G Jamal Williams was a perfect 5-for-5 from the field for 14 points in the win over St. Thomas.
PREDICTION: Baylor 70, Sam Houston State 60