No. 7 Baylor will go for a perfect month of December and try to build more momentum for the Big 12 Conference gauntlet when it hosts Jackson State on Monday afternoon in Waco, Texas.
The Bears (9-1) are riding an eight-game winning streak — including triumphs over Villanova, Arizona and Butler — heading into its final game before conference play.
Baylor’s last game was a dominating 91-63 win over UT-Martin on Dec. 18 in Houston. Davion Mitchell and Jared Butler each scored 19 points, MaCio Teague had 12 and Mark Vital scored 11 for Baylor, which shot 55.7 percent from the floor.
Like in most games this season, Baylor’s success came from its stifling defense, especially on the perimeter by Mitchell against opposing point guards. Opponents are shooting just 38.6 percent, including 31.4 percent from 3-point range. The Bears are 30th nationally with 9.1 steals per game.
“Davion starts it with the point of attack, anytime you have a lockdown defender like that,” Baylor coach Scott Drew told the Waco Tribune-Herald. “Davion and Mark (Vital) are two all-conference defenders and two of the best in the nation.
“I think that inspires and motivates everybody else, and makes everybody else’s job a little bit easier when they see other people playing hard.”
Baylor has defeated three ranked teams prior to January for the second time in program history (4-0 in 2016-17). The Bears have started 9-1 for the eighth time in the past 13 seasons. Butler leads the team in scoring with 17.6 points per game, making 42.3 percent of his 71 3-point shots.
Jackson State (3-9) heads to Waco after a 77-49 loss at No. 9 Memphis on Dec. 21. Tristan Jarrett, the leading scorer in the Southwestern Athletic Conference, scored a game-high 20 points in the loss.
Roland Griffin added 15 points and hauled in seven rebounds, and Jayveous McKinnis grabbed a game-high 14 rebounds. Jackson State forced Memphis into a season-high 28 turnovers.
“We can force teams into turnovers, but the other thing is we don’t normally turn the ball over,” Jackson State coach Wayne Brent said after the loss to Memphis. “They forced us into 25 turnovers and we didn’t score well.”
Jarrett’s performance against Memphis came on the heels of a 31-point effort in a win against Portland and a career-high 38-point outing in a 113-67 victory over Southeastern Baptist on Dec 16.
A trio of Tigers average double- digit points.
Jarrett is averaging 20.0 points per game and has handed out 29 assists and recorded 23 steals in 12 games. Griffin is averaging 15.3 points, and McKinnis is almost averaging a double-double with 11.0 points and 9.3 rebounds. McKinnis has 17 blocks, which ranks second in the conference.
Jackson State played 10 of its first 12 games away from home.
Baylor is 8-0 all-time against Jackson State, with an average margin of victory of 26.1 points. All the Bears’ wins against the Tigers have been by at least 14 points, and BU is 58-1 against current SWAC teams.
–Field Level Media