Colorado-Baylor Preview

The Associated Press

Baylor eliminated upstart Colorado from last season's NCAA tournament, leaving the Buffaloes hoping for an early rematch.

They'll get their wish.

Pierre Jackson looks to build on one of the best performances of his career and help the No. 16 Bears improve to 4-0 by beating Colorado again Friday in the semifinals of the Charleston Classic.

Third-seeded Baylor beat the 11th-seeded Buffaloes 80-63 in the round of 32 in last season's NCAA tournament, pulling away in the second half after holding a two-point halftime advantage.

The Bears' tournament run ended in the regional finals, falling 82-70 to eventual national champion Kentucky.

Colorado coach Tad Boyle admitted he was looking forward to getting another crack at Baylor. However, the Bears are off to another impressive start, holding opponents to 66.0 points per game while Jackson is averaging a team-best 23.3.

He had 15 points and 10 assists against Colorado (2-0) in March, and helped set up the rematch with his best performance of the early season.

Jackson scored 31 points while dishing out seven assists in Thursday's 84-74 victory over Boston College. It was only the second time the guard topped 30 points, joining a 35-point effort in a loss at Iowa State on March 3.

Though Jackson is the Big 12 coaches' preseason player of the year, he feels freshman Isaiah Austin's contributions and emotions are important to the Bears' success.

"When Isaiah gets going it gets us all going," Jackson said. "When he does something, you see him out there yelling and showing emotions. It got me going."

The 7-foot-1 center had 16 points and nine rebounds against the Eagles in his return from a sprained ankle that kept him out of Sunday's 78-47 romp against Jackson State. He had 22 points in a win over Lehigh in his collegiate debut two days earlier.

Colorado is looking for its first season-opening three-game winning streak since 2009-10, the year before Boyle's arrival.

Under Boyle, the Buffaloes have won 24 games in each of the last two seasons, reaching the semifinals of the NIT in 2011 before falling victim to Baylor last March.

Boyle agreed to a contract extension Wednesday that will keep him on the Colorado bench until 2017, and the Buffaloes followed the announcement Thursday with a 67-57 win over Dayton. Colorado trailed by four at halftime, but was able to rally by limiting the Flyers to 32.8 percent from the field and 5 for 21 from beyond the arc.

"We didn't play perfect," Boyle said. "But if the rest the tournament is like this, people will get their money's worth."

Askia Booker is leading the team with 29 total points, scoring 16 on Wednesday while hitting 6 of 11 field goals - 3 of 5 3-pointers.

The sophomore guard had 15 points and five rebounds off the bench against Baylor in March.

If the Buffaloes are going to beat the Bears for the first time since they were Big 12 rivals on Jan. 12, 2010, they'll likely need continued production from a pair of freshmen.

Josh Scott had 13 points Thursday after getting 14 while pulling down six boards and making 10 of 11 free throws in a 74-59 win over Wofford last Friday.

Fellow forward Xavier Johnson was limited to five points while grabbing eight rebounds against the Terriers, but followed that with 15 points against Dayton.

The winner of this game will face either St. John's or Murray State for the championship Sunday night.

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