Baylor emerged unscathed from a quality foursome at the Hall of Fame Classic, but now it’s right back to work. The 16th-ranked Bears face another challenging opponent Tuesday when they visit 20th-ranked Xavier in an intriguing non-conference tilt.
In a four-team field that also included Wisconsin, Creighton and UCLA, Baylor took care of the Badgers and Bluejays to capture the tournament title using its suffocating defense. The Bears gave up 65 points to Wisconsin and 59 to Creighton and have yet to allow more than 66 in any game this season. Their 59.4 points allowed currently ranks 17th nationally and should pose a good test for Xavier and its star swingman Trevon Bluiett. In the title game of the Las Vegas Invitational, Bluiett notched a season-low 11 points and the Musketeers’ defense also came up small in a 102-86 defeat to Arizona State.
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ABOUT BAYLOR (5-0): The Bears received 49 of their 65 points from three players against Creighton with King McClure contributing 19 points and Jo Lual-Acuil Jr. and Terry Maston chipping in 15 apiece. Lual-Acuil also had 15 rebounds en route to his third straight double-double and the 6-11 senior is averaging 14 points and 11.2 boards. Manu Lecomte, the team’s top scorer at 19 points per outing, registered only nine points on 2-of-8 shooting versus the Bluejays in by far his worst effort of the young season.
ABOUT XAVIER (5-1): J.P. Macura scored a team-high 23 points against Arizona State after scoring eight total over the previous two games. Macura is the team’s second-leading scorer at 13.8 points per contest behind only Bluiett (21.3), who is shooting a blistering 56.2 percent from the field and 51.3 percent from behind the arc. Kaiser Gates isn’t far behind at 42.1 percent from long range, including multiple 3s in five of the team’s six games.
1. Baylor has won 21 straight non-conference home games during the regular season.
2. The Bears are 3-0 against Xavier with all three matchups coming since 2009.
3. Only one Xavier player, F Tyrique Jones (eight), has more than three blocks in six games.
PREDICTION: Xavier 77, Baylor 72