The Baylor Bears head into Big 12 play as a wild card in the conference race.
The Bears produced uneven results in the pre-Big 12 nonconference portion of their schedule (they still have a nonconference matchup with Alabama on Jan. 26). Baylor posted eye-catching wins at Arizona and back home versus Oregon, but also suffered home losses against Texas Southern and Stephen F. Austin.
Forward Tristan Clark led a strong lead-up to Big 12 play as he scored 17 points and grabbed 12 rebounds in the Bears’ 84-44 victory over New Orleans on Saturday. Baylor got what it will need in conference action: a well-rounded effort on the offensive end. Jared Butler came off the bench to score 16 points with 6 assists, Makai Mason produced 13 points and 5 assists and Mario Kegler pitched in 10 points and 8 rebounds.
New Orleans put up a fight in the first 10 minutes before Baylor began to pull away at the end of the first half. King McClure hit a 3-pointer to put Baylor ahead 30-15 with 2:42 remaining before the break and the Privateers never got back within 15.
While the Bears’ big win over New Orleans will give them some momentum headed into Big 12 play, it’s important to remember that the Privateers have only one victory against an NCAA Division I opponent this season.
Baylor begins Big 12 play at TCU at 3 on Saturday afternoon.