Hapless Tigers tangle with surging Bears

Jan 3, 2014 - 3:32 PM Waco, TX (SportsNetwork.com) - The ninth-ranked Baylor Bears face their final tune-up prior to starting Big 12 Conference play, as they entertain the Savannah State Tigers at the Ferrell Center on Friday night.

These two teams couldn't be more diametrically opposed, as Savannah State comes in sporting a dismal 2-11 record, while Baylor is 11-1 and one of the top teams in the nation.

The Tigers are in the midst of a nine-game losing streak, and they have lost their last three to power conference foes Arkansas, Miami and Florida. With last Sunday's 76-34 embarrassment in Gainesville, SSU's season scoring average dipped to 59.8 ppg, which has it ranked 342nd of the 345 teams charted by the NCAA at the Division I level. The Tigers will open Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference play at home against Maryland-Eastern Shore on Monday.

Baylor took down visiting Oral Roberts this past Monday, 81-55, to run its current win streak to five games, and it was the 11th consecutive home win for the club, matching the second-longest home winning streak in school history (2009-10). Overall, the Bears have claimed victory in 16 of their last 17 games, with their lone loss coming in the championship bout of the Maui Invitational to Syracuse (74-67) back on Nov. 27. BU opens its Big 12 slate at Iowa State next Tuesday.

Baylor won the only previous meeting between these two teams, whipping the Tigers in an 86-50 final in Waco on Jan. 13, 2005. The Bears are 13-0 all-time against teams from the MEAC.

With an offense as anemic as the one Savannah State runs out there on a nightly basis, it's no wonder the team has only two wins in 13 opportunities, and offers up very little resistance against the superior foes it has faced to this point. Deven Williams is the only double-digit scorer for the Tigers, but his 11.8 ppg isn't cause for concern for most opposing coaches. Williams has started fewer than half of SSU's games, while full-time starters Jyles Smith and Terel Hall are netting a mere 7.8 and 4.2 ppg, respectively. The Tigers were mauled in their recent clash with Florida, shooting a paltry 24.5 percent from the field, missing six of their eight 3-point tries along the way. They scored only 11 points in the first half, committed a total of 20 turnovers and were beaten badly on the boards, 42-30.

Hot shooting and stingy defense are what propelled Baylor to its 26-point win over Oral Roberts the last time out, as the team made good on 51.7 percent of its field goal attempts, which included a 6-of-13 showing from 3-point range, while at the same time limiting the opposition to 36.2 percent overall efficiency, which encompassed a dismal 1-of-13 effort from beyond the arc. Cory Jefferson scored a team-high 17 points, Taurean Prince had 16, Isaiah Austin 15 and Rico Gathers logged his fifth career double-double by logging 10 points and 10 rebounds. For the season, Jefferson paces the group with 14.3 points and 8.4 caroms per contest, while Kenny Chery (11.8 ppg, 5.3 apg), Brady Heslip (11.1 ppg, .493 3-point FG percentage) and Austin (10.5 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 3.2 bpg) contribute across the stat sheet. As a team, Baylor is averaging 78.8 ppg while allowing 65.8 ppg, and is shooting 50.2 percent from the floor, 42.9 percent from downtown, and owns a huge +10.1 rebounding advantage.

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