December 01, 2015

Baylor has had a few weeks to think about a loss to a ranked opponent, and it's played nothing but tune-ups as its next test against the Top 25 awaits.

Considering Prairie View A&M even a tune-up might be a stretch, so a 29th straight home win over a nonconference opponent seems all but certain.

The 25th-ranked Bears have No. 16 Vanderbilt visiting Sunday, but they'll first host the winless Panthers on Wednesday night.

After a 74-67 loss at then-No. 25 Oregon on Nov. 16, Baylor (4-1) has beaten Jackson State, Savannah State and Arkansas State by an average of 26.0 points. Friday's 94-72 win over Arkansas State came with a little excitement, however, after a 24-point lead was reduced to seven early in the second half.

Recovery was swift with Taurean Prince scoring a career-high 25 points, Rico Gathers adding 10 and 13 rebounds, and Al Freeman chipped in 19. Prince is averaging 22.5 in his last two games while hitting 8 of 13 from 3-point range.

"They just came out with more of an edge than we did," Prince told the school's official website. "We did a good job as a team turning it around and getting back to where we could get it in the post and play out of that."

The Bears hit 26 of 30 from the foul line and were 10 of 23 from 3-point range. They're shooting 42.9 percent from outside with Freeman, the team's leading scorer at 17.2 points per game, hitting 51.9 percent from 3.

"When we're playing and moving the ball, a lot of times the defense ends up scrambling," said Freeman, who averaged 4.8 points a season ago as a redshirt freshman. "Essentially, we're just trying to take what the defense gives us. On a hard closeout, we stress driving and getting to the point. And if they're going to be short on us ... we have confidence in each other and ourselves that we can take and make those shots."

Poor free-throw shooting was an issue early on, including the loss to Oregon, hitting 63.8 percent in their first three games. Since, the Bears are 47 of 54 (87.0). Prince and Gathers each went 8 for 8 in the latest.

"Very, very pleased with the free-throw shooting," coach Scott Drew said. "You're going to win a lot of games when you get to the line 30 times, and you're going to win a lot of games when you make 26 of 30. I can't promise we'll keep doing it, but I love it right now. ... Hat's off to Rico and TP, going 16 for 16 is tremendous."

Baylor has won all 13 games between these teams, which includes last season's 60-45 win as part of a 28-game home nonconference streak on which the Bears have outscored opponents by 23.0 points. Their six wins in the last decade over the Panthers have come by 33.7 points.

Prairie View A&M (0-6) is probably getting sick of the road. It's played five away games and one neutral with the road losses coming by 23.0 points. The Panthers, however, hung with UNLV for 20 minutes Saturday but fell 80-62 after being tied 42-all at the half.

Top scorer Tevin Bellinger had 18 points and is averaging 19.5 in the last two games. The team was 3 of 13 from 3-point range and is hitting 28.2 percent for the season. It's also committing 18.2 turnovers per game.

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