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Jan 29, 2024 9:15 pm

No. 18 Baylor scuffling ahead of meeting with UCF

No. 18 Baylor will attempt to snap a three-game losing streak and get back on track for a run at the Big 12 Conference title when it faces UCF on Wednesday night in a key league clash in Orlando, Fla.

The Bears (14-5, 3-3 Big 12) head south after a 105-102 triple-overtime loss at home to TCU on Saturday. Yves Missi led Baylor with a career-high 25 points, while RayJ Dennis added 24 points and 10 assists, Ja’Kobe Walter tallied 15 points and Langston Love racked up 11 points and 10 rebounds.

The loss, combined with previous defeats over the past two weeks at Kansas State and at Texas by a combined six points, has dropped Baylor from 15th in the latest AP poll. The Bears have lost their past three outings by a total of nine points.

The Bears have gone to overtime three times in their first six Big 12 games, with all six games decided by single digits.

Baylor led by as many as 10 points seven minutes into the second half on Saturday before TCU climbed all the way back to send the game into overtime.

After the Bears fell behind in the first extra period, Walter sank a 3-pointer with two seconds left to force a second overtime. A jumper by Dennis in the final minute of the third overtime gave Baylor a short-lived lead that it could not carry to the end.

“We just didn’t close it out,” Baylor coach Scott Drew said. “So many close plays that lead to winning or losing. I know it takes a spark to start a fire, and we’re at that point where we need to get a win and get some confidence back.”

How tough is the Big 12 Conference? Eight of the league’s 14 teams are ranked in the latest AP poll. And despite the fact that UCF is not among the ranked, it has already shown that it can play with the Big 12’s best.

The Knights (12-7, 3-4) return home after a 68-57 loss at Cincinnati on Saturday. UCF has alternated between wins and losses over its first seven conference outings, beating then-No. 3 Kansas at home and Texas on the road earlier this month.

On Saturday, the Knights led by a dozen points at halftime before allowing Cincinnati to shoot 63.6 percent from the floor in the second half while being outscored 41-18. Marchelus Avery and Jaylin Sellers led UCF with 19 points apiece, but the Knights fell short of delivering coach Johnny Dawkins his 300th win.

“Our guys fought hard and they gave us good energy,” Dawkins said afterward. “We played a really good (first) half of basketball offensively and defensively, and the second half was the exact opposite. Our offense hurt our defense, the ball got stagnant, didn’t move from sideline to sideline like we normally do on our attack, and that led to some bad defensive possessions for us.”

The battle with Baylor will be the fifth game for UCF against a ranked opponent this season.

–Field Level Media

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