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No. 9 Baylor Bears Host Bethune-Cookman

The Sports Network

By Frank Haynes, Senior College Basketball Editor

FACTS & STATS: Site: Ferrell Center (10,284) -- Waco, Texas. Television: None. Home Record: B-CU 4-0, Baylor 6-0. Away Record: B-CU 1-3, Baylor 0-0. Neutral Record: B-CU 0-2, Baylor 0-0. Conference Record: B-CU 1-0, Baylor 0-0. Series Record: First-ever meeting.

GAME NOTES: The ninth-ranked Baylor Bears put their unblemished record on the line, as they entertain the Wildcats of Bethune-Cookman tonight at the Ferrell Center in Waco.

Bethune-Cookman is an even 5-5 on the year, having won all four of its home games but losing five of its six bouts on the road. The Wildcats opened the season with back-to-back wins, but then suffered a four-game losing streak during the Las Vegas Invitational. To their credit, however, wins in three of their last four games, including a 69-58 decision over Webber International in their most recent outing, has coach Clifford Reed's team playing with some confidence as it prepares for its bout with the nationally-ranked Bears. A 62-55 win at Florida A&M on December 4th was B-CU's first of the season in Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference play.

Baylor is perfect through six games, with all of them taking place at home and the smallest margin of victory being 10 points. Coach Scott Drew's club has been idle since posting a 68-54 decision over Arizona State on December 2nd as part of the Big 12/Pac-10 Hardwood Series, giving the Bears nearly two weeks to ready for this contest. Baylor will play its first game outside of Waco this Saturday when it battles Gonzaga in Dallas. The Bears will then play a few more non-league games before opening Big 12 Conference play at Texas Tech on January 8th. Baylor has won 11 straight home games, and can set a new Ferrell Center record with a win tonight.

This bout marks the first-ever meeting between Bethune-Cookman and Baylor in men's basketball.

One of the top players in the MEAC wears a Bethune-Cookman uniform as C.J. Reed is averaging 19.2 ppg. He does so despite shooting just 40.3 percent from the field, and he also serves as the team's primary playmaker with 4.4 assists per outing. Garrius Holloman and Alexander Starling are both averaging double figures as well, although at just 10.5 and 10.2 ppg, respectively, there is a significant drop-off from the production Reed puts forth. Rebounding has been the team's Achilles' heel to this point in the campaign, as Bethune-Cookman corrals just 29.4 rpg. While that figure is cause for concern, the Wildcats have proven to be an opportunistic bunch as foes are turning the ball over nearly 18 times per game. It wasn't the most complete effort, but B-CU did enough to get by Webber International the last time out as four players finished in double figures, the team shot 50 percent from the field and forced 19 turnovers. Alexander Starling registered his first double-double of the season and seventh of his career with 15 points and 11 boards, while Reed contributed 12 points and seven assists.

Baylor, which has won 20 straight games in the month of December, boasts four double-digit scorers, led by guard LaceDarius Dunn and his 22.7 ppg. Despite missing the first six games, Dunn has had no trouble getting into a rhythm, as the 6-4 senior is knocking down 52.5 percent of his field goal attempts, and he has more three-pointers made (16) than all but one of his teammates has attempted. Dunn doesn't go about it alone, however, as Quincy Acy (14.8 ppg, 9.2 rpg), Perry Jones III (12.8 ppg, 9.0 rpg) and A.J. Walton (10.4 ppg, 5.4 apg) have all performed well for the Bears, who convert 49.4 percent of their total shots in putting up 75.7 ppg. Defensively, they have excelled as well, yielding a mere 54.0 ppg on just 36.1 percent field goal efficiency. Dunn nailed six treys on his way to 24 points as Baylor took care of Arizona State on December 2nd, while Walton added 13 points and Jones III chipped in with 12. The Bears dominated the boards, 39-23, and won the game rather easily despite committing 16 turnovers.

While the Wildcats aren't going to concede defeat before the game even starts, it's a safe bet that will be their fate nevertheless. Baylor is simply too athletic, too skilled, and too well coached not to notch their record-setting 12th straight home win tonight.

Photographs by jamesbrandon, jdtornow, phlezk, flygraphix, mcdlttx, tomasland, and literalbarrage used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.