No. 13 Baylor cruises into the NIT Season Tip-Off in New York matchup with Oregon State chasing continuity and chemistry.
The task of replacing four of their five starters from last year’s team has gone swimmingly for the Bears (4-0), who defeated Auburn their season opener in South Dakota and racked up three wins in six days, all at home.
The winner draws the victor of the clash between Florida and Pittsburgh on Friday for the tournament championship. The losing teams Wednesday play in the consolation game earlier Friday.
Baylor scored an easy 99-61 home win over Kansas City on Nov. 14 and had a week off to catch its collective breath. Jayden Nunn had a season-high 25 points and Ja’Kobe Walter added 23 to pace the Bears.
The Bears had 17 more points than Kansas City at the free throw line and outscored the visitors 39-12 from beyond the arc in the victory.
Baylor has won four of the past five in-season tournaments in which it has participated and has won 40 of the 53 games in those events during the Scott Drew era. The Bears have captured 13 of their past 14 regular-season, neutral-site contests.
“We’ve been really successful over a lot of our holiday trips,” Drew said Monday. “First and foremost, you have to approach it like it is business. “You want to make sure you’re resting and preparing and doing everything that you can to get ready for the tournament.
“You need to take care of your legs and be mentally and physically ready to go, because to win holiday tournaments, you’ve got to be at your best.”
The Beavers (3-1) opened their season with three straight victories for the second consecutive year before getting walloped 84-63 by Nebraska on Saturday.
Jordan Pope led Oregon State with 25 points while hitting on 8-of-12 shots from the floor. Tyler Bilodeau added 15 points for the Beavers and has scored in double figures in seven straight games dating back to last season.
Oregon State trailed by 20 at the half and made just 35.2 percent of its shots from the floor while draining only 6 of 22 shots from beyond the arc. The Beavers were outscored 38-16 in the paint and 21-5 on fast break points.
“We were tested at home early against some pretty good, physical guards,” Oregon State coach Wayne Tinkle said. “We thought we were maybe prepared to give Nebraska its best test yet. At risk of making ourselves sound bad, I think this was the best game they’ve maybe had.”
Pope is averaging a team-best 20.5 points per game. Bilodeau is contributing 15.0 points to go along with a team-high 8.8 rebounds, while Dexter Akanno is adding 10.5 and 3.3, respectively.
–Field Level Media
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