Southern U.-Baylor Preview

The Associated Press

After surviving a scare in its last contest, Baylor now faces a team that's already played its fare share of ranked opponents this season.

The No. 12 Bears will look for more focus Sunday against visiting Southern University.

Playing for the first time since a 67-62 win over then-No. 3 Kentucky on Dec. 6 in Dallas, Baylor (9-1) shot 50.8 percent and led by five with just under 3 minutes to play Wednesday against Northwestern State. The Bears couldn't hold the lead, however, and ultimately needed overtime to win 91-84.

"The most important thing is the win," coach Scott Drew said.

Junior-college transfer Kenny Chery scored 12 of his 20 points in OT and recorded 10 assists, Cory Jefferson had 22 with 10 rebounds, and Rico Gathers added 19 and 10 boards to help Baylor win for the 14th time in 15 games.

Despite facing a Northwestern State squad that started three guards and had been outrebounded in all but one of its previous nine games, the Bears lost the battle on the glass 38-36. It was an extremely disappointing effort for Baylor, which ranks among the nation's top 50 with 40.5 boards per contest.

"We had a lot of missed opportunities, and we did not take advantage of the 50-50 balls," said Gathers, who has 32 rebounds in three games. "Like I told the team it is one of those nights, you are not going to be able to snatch them all. It is just something that you (work) on in practice."

Baylor, however, still remains one of the nation's top shooting teams at 50.0 percent from the field. It's shot 52.8 percent and averaged 81.5 points in the last six contests.

Averaging 12.4 points, Chery has totaled 38 on 15-of-30 shooting in the last two.

The Bears have won all five meetings with Southern (3-8) by an average of 19.4 points, but haven't faced the Jaguars since a 61-45 victory Nov. 16, 2009.

No stranger to taking on the nation's top programs, Southern nearly pulled off a shocker during last year's NCAA tournament before falling 64-58 to No. 1 seed Gonzaga.

Though the Jaguars lost four seniors from that squad, they hung tough during a 63-56 loss at then-No. 17 Marquette on Nov. 8 and outscored then-No. 16 Florida in the second half of a 14-point defeat 10 days later.

Southern, however, was held to 19 first-half points and shot 34.0 percent during a 69-43 loss at top-ranked Arizona on Thursday.

"My team is trying to find an identity and we have a long way to go," Southern coach Roman Banks said. "My concern is that we didn't show character, we floated all night long. Arizona is a great basketball team, but I thought we played on our toes."

Plagued by an elbow injury, 6-foot-9 Calvin Godfrey had 11 points and two boards in 16 minutes against the Wildcats.

Averaging 12.4 points and a team-leading 7.9 boards in his first season at Southern, Godfrey began his career at Iowa State, but was kicked off the team following his 2010-11 freshman season after an arrest for marijuana possession. He then committed to LSU, but was unable to enroll due to academic problems.

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