Baylor men’s basketball fans can get a sneak peek of the team when the Bears host Houston in a benefit exhibition game to raise money for Hurricane Harvey victims at noon Saturday at the Ferrell Center.
Baylor coach Scott Drew hopes fans will take advantage of the opportunity before watching the football team face West Virginia at 7 p.m. at McLane Stadium in a homecoming game.
Ticket sales at the Ferrell Center will be matched by Farm Bureau Insurance for hurricane victims. Baylor and Houston received an NCAA waiver to play the exhibition game.
“It’s a great cause since the state of Texas was so affected by Hurricane Harvey,” Drew said. “It’s a great chance to give back to people in need.”
Ranked No. 24 in the USA Today coaches poll, the Bears have been practicing since Sept. 29 in preparation for the Nov. 10 season opener against Central Arkansas.
They plan to build off last year’s Sweet 16 success with a solid crew of returning players, including point guard Manu Lecomte, center Jo Lual-Acuil, guards Jake Lindsey and King McClure, and forwards Terry Maston and Nuni Omot. Forward Tristan Clark is the top newcomer.
“Typically coaches don’t like doing scrimmages until later, but players would always rather play,” Drew said. “It gives you a chance to see earlier than normal what areas you’re deficient in. It will be a great barometer to help judge your team, and see where you need to improve.”
Coming off a 21-11 season and an NIT appearance, Houston returns leading scorer guard Rob Gray, who averaged 20.6 points and shot 38.2 percent from 3-point range. Forward Devin Davis averaged 8.3 points and 5.3 rebounds last season.
The Cougars are coached by former Oklahoma coach Kelvin Sampson, who is in his fourth season at Houston. One of his assistants is Alvin Brooks, the father of Baylor assistant Alvin Brooks III.
“We’ll have a little father-son action going on,” Drew said.
Baylor will be without junior college transfer Leonard Allen, who has taken an indefinite leave of absence from the team due to “personal medical challenges.” Allen, a 22-year-old sophomore center, last played at San Diego City College in 2015-16 before taking classes at Austin Community College in 2016-17.
“We will continue to support Leonard in every way possible,” Drew said. “He’s been a great representative of our program and an excellent teammate since joining our team, and all of us are praying for him and looking forward to his return.”
Baylor will also be without redshirt freshman guard Tyson Jolly, who hasn’t yet been cleared to play due to an undisclosed medical issue.