Baylor-Texas A&M Preview

The Associated Press

Baylor opened Big 12 play by limiting Texas A&M to its worst shooting effort. Defending the Aggies could be even easier in the rematch.

The sixth-ranked Bears will visit a short-handed Texas A&M team Wednesday night in the final scheduled meeting between schools separated by less than 100 miles.

Baylor (19-2, 6-2 Big 12) won 61-52 at home over Texas A&M (12-8, 3-5) on Jan. 2 for its fourth straight victory in the series. The Aggies' 28.6 field-goal percentage in that game is their lowest in four seasons as they fell behind by 13 at halftime and never recovered.

"I think we were a little intimidated the first half against Baylor," Texas A&M coach Billy Kennedy said.

The Aggies could be without two starters from that contest. Khris Middleton, their second leading scorer at 12.4 points per game, is out with a knee injury while Dash Harris, averaging a team-high 4.3 assists, is day to day with a foot problem.

Kennedy was pleased with Saturday's 76-61 win over Oklahoma State, which Texas A&M pulled off despite being down to eight scholarship players. Elston Turner scored 23 points as the Aggies shot 58.3 percent in their third straight home win.

"We don't know what the lineup will be like, so we'll evaluate it in practice and see who gives us the best chance at the best start against Baylor," Kennedy said. "But the positive thing is all those guys have a lot more confidence than they had a couple of weeks ago. We're going to need all that against Baylor."

The Bears believe Texas A&M could make it tough for them to score. The Aggies are first in the Big 12 with 59.5 points allowed per game and second in field-goal percentage defense at 38.2.

"I think the one common denominator is defensively, they've been very good throughout the entire season," Baylor coach Scott Drew said. "In the last couple of games, that hadn't changed and it's improved. They really get after you and make everything tough."

With the Aggies set to leave the Big 12 after this season, the former Southwest Conference rivals who have played 205 times are not scheduled to meet again.

Texas A&M will probably be glad to see the last of Perry Jones III, who may leave for the NBA after this season. Jones has averaged 19.0 points and 53.7 percent shooting in three career games against the Aggies.

He had 14 points and 12 boards in the first meeting to help pick up the slack as Baylor guards Pierre Jackson and Brady Heslip combined for four points. Those newcomers average a total of 22.5.

"Perry Jones is obviously one of the best players in the country and he's a tough matchup for anybody but their guards have made them a lot better, there's no question," Kennedy said.

Jones has averaged 21.5 points and 13.0 rebounds in the back-to-back wins that have followed Baylor's only losses. He's a big reason why the Bears are a Big 12-best 5-1 on the road, where he averages 17.5 points and 59.2 percent shooting.

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