Waco, TX (SportsNetwork.com) - The 20th-ranked Baylor Bears put the wraps on a three-game homestand on Wednesday night, as they entertain the Charleston Southern Buccaneers.
Charleston Southern will be taking on a nationally-ranked team on the road for the second straight game, as it fell on the wrong end of a 109-93 final at New Mexico on Sunday. The Buccaneers' two-game skid has come on the heels of a positive 2-0 start, as they registered wins versus Johnson-Tennessee (130-51) and at Delaware (95-93).
Baylor's season has gone off without a hitch here in the early going, as the team has posted three straight wins. After beating former Big 12 rival Colorado on a neutral court in the opener (72-60), the Bears returned home to capture victories over South Carolina (66-64) and Louisiana (87-68), and their start has allowed for a bump in the latest AP poll from No. 23 to No. 20.
The Bears and the Buccaneers have never before faced each other on the hardwood.
The Bucs had an impressive offensive showing against New Mexico earlier in the week, as they drained 47.5 percent of their field goal attempts (including 15 3-pointers) and 91.7 percent of their tries from the free-throw line, but the only problem was they couldn't prevent the Lobos from scoring (109 points). Saah Nimley provided a spark off the bench with 24 points, 12 assists and four steals, and he was effective on a busy night at charity stripe (15-of-17). Paul Gombwer and Sheldon Strickland both netted 17 points, Arlon Harper scored 15, and Matt Kennedy rounded out the balanced effort with 11 points.
On the young season, Charleston Southern is the nation's ninth-highest scoring team with 99.0 points per game on greater than 52 percent shooting from the floor. Nimley is both the team's top scorer (17.8 ppg) and distributor (8.2 apg). Kennedy pours in 14.2 points per game, and five others put up between 9.0 and 12.7 points per outing.
The Bears made easy work of a solid Louisiana squad the last time out behind an efficient night from both the field (27-of-46) and the foul line (28- of-36). Kenny Chery was the catalyst with 20 points on 7-of-10 from the field, while Brady Heslip came off the bench to net 19 points. Cory Jefferson was rock solid in the paint with 16 points, 10 rebounds and two blocks, while Isaiah Austin (eight points, six rebounds) made his presence felt at the defensive end of the floor with eight blocks.
Through three games, Baylor has impressed with its scoring (+11.0) and rebounding (+6.0) margins, but it has been sloppy at times by committing nearly six more turnovers than its opposition on average. Heslip has reveled in his role as sixth man, as he leads the team with 16.3 points per game on greater than 52 percent efficiency from beyond the arc (11-of-21). Chery (14.3 ppg) has handed out 11 assists against only four turnovers, while Jefferson (12.0 ppg, 9.3 rpg) and Austin (9.0 ppg, 4.3 bpg) form one of the best frontcourt duos in the nation.