WACO, Texas —
Baylor is moving forward without most of its Ps and Qs.
Coming off a school-record 30 victories last season, the 19th-ranked Bears go into this year without forwards Perry Jones III and Quincy Miller, who both left Baylor early for the NBA. Also gone is big man Quincy Acy, a heart-and-soul leader during his four seasons who was also drafted.
The Bears still have senior point guard Pierre Jackson, the Big 12 preseason player of the year.
"He's really improved and focused on his leadership, and being more vocal in practice,'' coach Scott Drew said.
Despite all the changes in the frontcourt, including two other post players who graduated, the Bears are still considered one of the Big 12's top teams. They were picked second in a preseason vote by coaches behind perennial Big 12 champ and seventh-ranked Kansas.
Jackson is among five guards back, including 3-pointer shooter and starter Brady Heslip. A.J. Walton has started 52 games his first three seasons, while Deuce Bello and Gary Franklin were key contributors off the bench in their first seasons at Baylor.
"As far as our team goes, experience in the back court, which is a little bit different,'' said Drew, entered his 10th season at Baylor. "In the last few years, we've been a taller team and more experienced on the front line. But when you lose three players to the NBA and return a lot of people in the back court, it kind of changes some of the things that you do.''
That doesn't mean the Bears will be lacking for quality big men. They are just young, except for junior Cory Jefferson and senior J'mison Morgan, who sat out last season after starting 14 of the 31 games in 2010-11.
Their starting center will be 7-foot-1, 220-pound freshman Isaiah Austin, who was one of the nation's top-ranked recruits after playing at Grace Prep in Arlington.
"He brings a lot of height, a lot of length and a great skill set. The biggest thing when you look at him right now is you know he can get stronger,'' Drew said. "At the same time offensively, because he can shoot 3s and handle the ball, he really stretches the defense and makes it tough to guard a big guy like that. ... That versatility makes him special.''
Other front-court freshmen are 6-8 Rico Gathers, 6-11 Chad Rykhoek and 6-7 Taurean Prince.
Acy, Fred Ellis and Anthony Jones left as the winningest senior class in Baylor history, after the Bears won 100 games the past four seasons.
That included a school-record 28 wins in 2009-10, before that mark was surpassed last season. They twice made it to an NCAA regional final before losing to the eventual national champion, Duke in 2010 and Kentucky last season.
Baylor had five players average in double-figure scoring last year, led by Jackson's 13.8 points a game. But with the next three leading scorers from last year now in the NBA and all the youngsters now around him, Jackson is sure to get more attention from opposing teams.
"He's used to scoring. I think he'll be focused on more defensively and offensively. Everybody will focus their game plan around him versus last year,'' Drew said. "So as we all know, the expectations for him and the focal point, things are going to be tougher for him. At the same time, he's improved his game and is excited for that challenge.''
The Bears open the season at home Nov. 9, a late afternoon game on a Friday against Lehigh after the No. 1-ranked and defending national champion Lady Bears play their opener earlier that day at the Ferrell Center.
Baylor has five games the first 10 days of the season, and play again before going to Kentucky on Dec. 1.
"It's a great opportunity for us,'' Drew said. "This year could be harder than last year's non-conference schedule. We play some real tough road games, true road games like at Gonzaga, at Kentucky. That gets us ready for the Big 12.''
WACO, Texas —
Baylor is moving forward without most of its Ps and Qs.
Taylor drains 6 treys, Lady Zebras clip Collinsville, 49-46
When it comes to shooting, the Claremore Lady Zebras would rather drain three pointers than free throws.
Claremore’s Monica Taylor converted four of her six treys in the second half for a game-high 18 points as the Lady Zebras held off Collinsville, 49-46 in the season opener Tuesday night at the Claremore High School Gym.
As the buzzer sounded, the Claremore Zebras found themselves in an unfamiliar place.
For the first time in two years, the Zebras were on the winning side of the scoreboard and pumping each other’s chests after their 43-29 season-opening victory over the Collinsville Cardinals.
Berryhill sweeps Sequoyah in opener
The Berryhill Chiefs boys’ basketball team spoiled the Claremore Sequoyah Eagles’ season opener with a dominant 69-44 road win Tuesday night at Olan Graham field house.
The Chiefs rained down with 10 3-pointers against the Eagles (0-1, 0-0).
Cards soar past Sperry
In a big Class 3A gun down, No. 3 Verdigris had more weapons than No. 6 Sperry.
In their home opener, the 2-0 Cardinals buried eight three-point shots and converted 21-of-23 free throws in rolling past the Pirates 69-54.
Battenfield, Hanslovan spark No. 4 Lady Cards past Sperry
Fourth-ranked Verdigris shot nearly 50 percent and forced Sperry into 22 turnovers, finally pulling away for a 73-41 home opening victory Tuesday night in Class 3A girls basketball.
NBA CAPSULES: Spurs clip Hawks, 102-100
Tim Duncan made a jumper with 0.4 seconds left to lift the San Antonio Spurs to a 102-100 victory over the Atlanta Hawks on Monday night.
Duncan finished with 23 points and 21 rebounds as San Antonio dominated the middle against the younger and more athletic Atlanta front court. Boris Diaw had 16 points and Tiago Splitter finished with 11.
K-State likely headed to Holiday Bowl
Nobody was talking about bowl games at Kansas State in mid-October, when the Wildcats were sitting at 2-4 and feeling bruised and battered after a loss to Baylor.
Nobody was giving up on the season, either.
So with the kind of steadfast resolve that has become a hallmark under Bill Snyder, Kansas State flipped the script. The Wildcats ripped off four straight wins to become bowl eligible, and then finished off their regular-season with a 31-10 rout of Kansas on Saturday.
Tense victory at TCU keeps No. 9 Baylor in race
Baylor coach Art Briles threw his hat and his headset in a rare display of emotion on the interception that ended TCU's upset bid in the final seconds.
The No. 9 Bears had persevered and recovered from a blowout loss to Oklahoma State that ended their hopes for a national title a week earlier. They also won for a coach whose older brother, Eddie, died from an apparent head injury after a fall just three days before the tense 41-38 victory on Saturday.
Meyer won't suspend ejected Ohio State players
Ohio State coach Urban Meyer says the players ejected from the Michigan game for fighting will not be suspended for the Big Ten championship game.
Stunning matchup for SEC title: Tigers vs. Tigers
Talk about an SEC surprise.
Just a year ago, the Auburn Tigers won all of three games and fired their coach. Just a year ago, the Missouri Tigers looked very much like a school that had no business joining the mighty Southeastern Conference.
Well, look at the matchup for Saturday's championship game.
Tigers vs. Tigers.
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- Taylor drains 6 treys, Lady Zebras clip Collinsville, 49-46