January 6, 2012

Baylor presents model

Texas Tech shout get a tough challenge when the No. 4 Baylor Bears visit the United Spirit Arena Saturday at 12:45 p.m.

For the Red Raiders though, this is just another game on the schedule.

"All of them are big tests when we get into the Big 12," head coach Billy Gillispie said. "Every game is a big test for our team. They've got a really nice team that does a really good job so it'll be a major challenge for us."

Tech (7-6, 0-1 in Big 12 play) didn't start conference play in the fashion they hoped to.

Wednesday's conference opening game at Oklahoma State seemed much more winnable -- on paper -- than an early matchup with the No. 4 team in the nation. Tech gave the Cowboys a pretty good game, but faltered at the end when Oklahoma State star guard Keiton Page outscored the Red Raiders in the final minutes of the game 10-4.

Tech had a nice early lead against the Cowboys and cut a late 13-point deficit by 11 points for a 57-55 game with three minutes to go. Oklahoma State won 67-59.

"Every team is going to have lapses," Gillispie said. "We did an unbelievable job on Page as you could possibly do for 37 minutes. But the most important time of the game, when were right there, we didn't execute and didn't compete like we needed to as far as making sure there's one guy on the court that shouldn't beat us and we didn't stop him.

"We have to better job of understanding who that guy is, or who those guys are, and execute like we need to and compete like we need to."

In Baylor's case, it's 'those guys.' The Bears (14-0, 1-0) have five players averaging double-digit scoring.

Head coach Scott Drew's Baylor crew is led by two outstanding guards in Perry Jones and Quincy Acy. Gillispie said he though Jones could have been a top three pick in the 2011 NBA Draft.

Jones averages 13.4 points per game and Acy is right behind with 12.5 points.

Guarding the Bears' top duo becomes even more problematic when a third forward in 6-foot-9, 210-pound freshman Quincy Day puts up another 11 points per game.

And because there's so much talent to defend on the inside, guards Brady Heslip and Pierre Jackson, transfers from Boston College and junior college, respectively, combine for another average 21 points from the perimeter.

"It's by far the best team we've played," Gillispie said. "They're undefeated for a reason and No. 4 in the country for a reason. They've played very well, they've been tested and played very good teams…. They continue to grow their team so I have a lot of admiration for them.

"I doubt they thought their guard play would be this good this early. You had some new guys coming in that have played extremely well. When you have guys on the front line like they do, and they've got as many as anyone in the country, if you're a guard you're probably going to have a bit of breathing room to be able to do a little bit better a little bit sooner."

Saturday, Baylor is going to be an extremely tough challenge for the Red Raiders to overcome. But when the Bears aren't squaring off against the Red Raiders, they're a good team to try to emulate.

Drew built a program from shambles left by former Baylor coach Dave Bliss left after the Baylor basketball scandal of 2003 where Patrick Dennehy was murdered by fellow player Carlton Dotson and the team faced a non-conference schedule ban to start the 2005-2006 season.

By 2008, the Bears had reached the NCAA Tournament, were the runner-up of the 2009 NIT and made it to the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament before a step back at the end of the 2010-2011 season and now the No. 4 ranking.

"They've done a fantastic job," Gillispie said. "As far as a model, there are not a lot of teams that play like they do. They've got a niche and found a different way to play that's been successful. I don't know how many teams are trying to model that, but the must important thing to model and what we're trying to model is the recruiting they have.

"They do a good job in recruiting and once they get them there they coach them very well and that's how they're winning."

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