November 23, 2015

After recovering from its first loss with defense, rebounding and Al Freeman's 3-point shooting, coach Scott Drew would like to see Baylor cut down on its turnovers.

The 20th-ranked Bears have a good opportunity to improve and will try to extend a 27-game nonconference home winning streak Monday night against Savannah State in the third of the four-game Global Sports Shootout.

Baylor (2-1) led the Big 12 with 60.2 points allowed per game en route to 24 wins in 2014-15 and has tied for first so far this season by giving up an average of 63.0.

The Bears let No. 25 Oregon shoot 43.6 percent and finish even with them on the boards (35-35) in last Monday's 74-67 road loss before limiting Jackson State to a 34.4 mark while holding a 56-30 rebounding advantage in Friday's 77-60 home victory.

Rico Gathers led the effort with 12 points and 16 boards. The senior forward, averaging 11.6 rebounds, needs four more to pass Jerry Mallett for second place on Baylor's career list.

The Bears, however, have committed 18 turnovers in each of the last two games after they only had eight in a season-opening 97-55 home win over Stephen F. Austin on Nov. 13.

They turned the ball over 18 or more times only three times last season, including a season-high 21 in a loss to Georgia State in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

"Obviously, offensive turnovers is an area of concern, so we'll keep working on that and adjusting from there," Drew said.

It would certainly make things easier if Freeman continues shooting the lights out after totaling 42 points while hitting 8 of 14 from 3-point range in the past two games.

The sophomore guard shot just 32.3 percent from long range last season but is tied with Oklahoma's Buddy Hield with a Big 12-best nine 3s.

"I'm pretty confident right now," Freeman said. "My teammates are doing a great job, they're penetrating and giving me open shots. I think we're moving the ball well, playing with each other, and I think when we are making shots as a team, we develop confidence."

The Bears have been a confident bunch in Waco, where they've won by an average of 22.4 points since their last nonconference loss to Northwestern in December 2012. Baylor has also won 17 consecutive home games against unranked opponents.

Savannah State, on the other hand, has dropped 20 straight nonconference road games by an average of 22.1 points. Following three consecutive home victories to open the season, the Tigers fell 77-59 on the road against the Ducks on Friday.

Troyce Manassa led Savannah State with 15 points and nine rebounds, but Oregon finished with a 37-31 advantage on the glass. The Ducks also shot 51.7 percent from the field and sent the Tigers to the foul line only seven times.

Chris Martin, a transfer from Mount St. Mary's, has been a bright spot for Savannah State. The graduate senior is averaging a team-high 14.8 points while sinking 13 of 25 attempts from 3-point range.

Baylor has run away with the previous two home meetings, 86-50 in January 2005 and 80-50 in January 2014. Savannah State has lost 17 straight to ranked teams dating to November 2003.

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