A nine-day break between games made it difficult tonight for No. 18 Baylor to look like the team that beat Villanova in the Myrtle Beach Invitational championship in the previous game.
The Bears (6-1) now have three days to prepare for No. 12 Arizona at the Ferrell Center at Waco, Texas, after beating winless Maryland-Eastern Shore 78-46. Baylor is allowing fans in for free when the Wildcats come to town because the Bears’ football team is playing Oklahoma in the Big 12 Championship game at the same time at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
Tipoff for Arizona’s toughest test to date is at 10 a.m., Tucson time. It will be televised on ESPNU.
Jared Butler had 20 points that included five 3-pointers to lead the Bears in their rout of Maryland-Eastern Shore (0-10).
Baylor coach Scott Drew told the media after the game that Baylor’s 40.3 percent shooting showed the Bears were “rusty in some areas” coming off the long Thanksgiving break.
“Really pleased with our overall performance,” Drew said during the postgame press conference. “We got a lead, we built on our lead and the game was never in jeopardy. We did do some things well and executed on some things. Hopefully we got some rust off from the Thanksgiving break. We’ll have to have a better offensive execution come Saturday. Excited to get geared up for that.”
Baylor hosts the Wildcats (9-0) after upsetting Sean Miller’s team last December at McKale Center. The Bears ended Arizona’s 52-game winning streak at McKale Center with the 58-49 win.
Freddie Gillespie had 13 rebounds and five blocked shots in the win over Maryland-Eastern Shore. Devonte Bandoo added 14 points, Matthew Meyer had 12 points and MaCio Teague finished with 10 points.
Baylor is 62-4 at home against non-conference opponents dating to the 2011-12 season.
The Bears limited Maryland-Eastern Shore to 26.6 percent shooting from the field and 26.3 percent from 3-point range. Entering the game, the Hawks ranked No. 345 nationally shooting 36.3 percent from the field and No. 305 in 3-point shooting percentage (28.8).
Drew said in his postgame radio show that he anticipates “20 to 30 NBA scouts coming to the game Saturday.”
“Arizona is very talented. It should be a fun game. Our players are excited to play in front of a lot of fans.”
A crowd of 6,196 fans showed up for tonight’s game at the 10,284-seat arena.
Arizona guard Nico Mannion was named the Pac-12 Freshman of the Week on Monday
Last week, Mannion helped the Wildcats to a 3-0 record to capture the title the Paycom Wooden Legacy in Anaheim. In the three games, he averaged 16.3 points, 7.3 assists and shot 51.4 percent from the floor on his way to being named tournament MVP.
Baylor had 18 assists that led to its 27 field goals and outscored the Maryland-Eastern Shore 19-5 on fast break points. Teague led the Bears with five assists and Butler and Davion Mitchell each had four.
The Bears had a season-high 52 rebounds while outrebounding Maryland-Eastern Shore 52-35 that helped lead to a 30-16 advantage of points in the paint.
Baylor never trailed against Maryland-Eastern Shore. The Bears were never threatened after taking a 22-3 lead with 12:12 left in the first half.
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ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for CollegeAD.com, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports, TucsonCitizen.com, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon.