Rams face uphill battle in showdown with Bears

Jan 21, 2015 - 3:43 PM Waco, TX (SportsNetwork.com) - The 21st-ranked Baylor Bears will close out their non-conference schedule on Wednesday evening, as they play host to the Huston-Tillotson Rams at the Ferrell Center.

The Rams are looking at a stiff challenge against the Bears. HT comes into this contest with a meager 3-13 overall record. The NAIA school from Austin, has struggled this season in the Red River Athletic Conference, sporting a mere 2-6 league ledger.

Baylor is looking up in the Big 12 standings as well with a 2-3 conference mark. The Bears enter this contest off a hard-fought 63-61 loss at Kansas State. Still, BU is an impressive 9-1 at the Ferrell Center this year and sports a 28-4 record against in-state opponents since the 2011-12 campaign.

This marks the first-ever meeting between these two teams on the hardwood.

The Rams enter this contest with a four-game losing streak in tow, with the last outing resulting in a 131-100 loss to league-leading Our Lady of the Lake. The 100 points marked the highest scoring output of the season for Huston-Tillotson, powered by a 36-of-58 showing from the free-throw line. However, it wasn't nearly enough to end Our Lady of the Lake's perfect RRAC season thus far. Still, Shai Fields was superb in defeat, going 11-of-19 from the floor and netting 30 points. Malcolm Ballard added 19 points

On the season, the Rams are averaging 75.0 ppg, but are giving up a generous 85.2 ppg. In conference play, that number has jumped slightly to 87.4 ppg, factoring in the ridiculous 131 points allowed last time out. The addition of Fields to the lineup recently has certainly helped out. In the three games he has played, Fields is averaging 17.0 ppg. Ballard is next in the scoring column at 12.2 ppg, followed by Quincy Durden and Darion Cooks with 11.5 and 10.0 ppg, respectively.

Strong defense is what fuels the Baylor attack. The Bears are limiting the opposition to just 57.6 ppg, while holding foes under 40 percent shooting overall (.394) and under 30 percent from behind the arc (.291). In addition, the team boasts of a +9.9 rebounding margin. At the offensive end, Baylor is averaging a modest 68.6 ppg, but there is some depth in terms of scoring, as four Bears are currently in double figures. Taurean Prince leads the charge with 12.1 ppg. Kenny Chery is a close second at 11.2 ppg. Johnathan Motley and Rico Gathers are averaging 10.0 ppg each. The 6-foot-8, 275-pound Gathers leads the Big 12 and ranks fifth nationally with 11.2 rebounds per game.

Baylor hit six 3-pointers in the first half and held a nine-point lead (33-24) at the break against Kansas State, but could not sustain the strong play and faltered in the second half in a two-point loss to the Wildcats. Chery was 8- of-14 from the floor and hit four 3-pointers en route to a game-high 21 points. Prince poured in 20 points, but there was little offensive help elsewhere in the narrow loss.

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