Coll. of Charleston-Baylor Preview


If Baylor can again find success both in the paint and on the perimeter, it should remain one of the top teams in the nation.

After that formula helped them rebound from their first loss, the No. 24 Bears look to maintain their offensive balance when they host College of Charleston on Saturday night.

Baylor (4-1) went 3 of 16 from 3-point range and received just 25 points from big men Cory Jefferson and Isaiah Austin in a 60-58 defeat to Colorado last Friday, but things went much better two days later. The two players combined for 33 points with 27 boards, while guard Brady Heslip scored a career-high 29 and hit eight of 12 3-pointers in a 97-78 victory over St. John's.

"We're just happy to bring back this win," said Heslip, who was the team's most consistent 3-point shooter last season but averaged 7.3 points and went 5 of 22 from beyond the arc in the first four games.

While Baylor coach Scott Drew hopes Heslip can build on his latest performance, he also needs Jefferson and Austin to continue to improve as they fill the void left when Quincy Acy and Perry Jones III headed to the NBA.

A role player who averaged 3.6 points and 2.6 boards for last season's 30-8 team, Jefferson (16.0 ppg, 9.6 rpg) now appears to have a grasp on the responsibility that comes with being a starter.

Austin (14.8, 9.0), meanwhile, has shown why he is considered one of the top freshman in the country.

"I think they've done a good job up until now, but I think we'll get much better as the season goes on,'' Drew said.

Both could be in for a challenge this weekend in the Bears' first meeting with Charleston (2-2), which has outrebounded all four of its opponents. Three of those contests came against major conference teams St. John's, Auburn and Boston College.

The Cougars avoided an 0-3 finish in the Charleston Classic, their own tournament, with a 71-67 win over Boston College on Sunday. Andrew Lawrence scored 17 of his 22 points as Charleston overcame a 34-29 halftime deficit.

"It reinforced some confidence for us to go and get ready to play at Baylor," forward Anthony Thomas said. "It helped us trust Coach (Doug) Wojcik and everything he is doing and more."

One of the top mid-major guards in the nation and a member of Britain's 2012 Olympic team, Lawrence is averaging a team-leading 15.0 points and shooting 59.1 percent.

It's uncertain if teammate Trent Wiedeman (11.7 ppg) will miss a second straight game with an ankle injury.

Charleston will try to snap a seven-game road skid against Top 25 opponents that dates to an 82-78 win over then-No. 21 Stanford on Nov. 29, 1996.