Baylor coach Scott Drew has the perfect solution for cutting down on turnovers after the Bears matched their season high with 21 in Tuesday’s gut wrenching loss to West Virginia.
“Yeah, not go to Morgantown,” Drew said.
The Bears hope to play more efficient basketball when they hit the road for the second straight game against Iowa State at 2 p.m. Saturday at Hilton Coliseum in Ames.
After the last-second 57-54 loss to the Mountaineers, the Bears (11-5, 1-3) will see a much different style of play from Iowa State (9-6, 0-4). The Cyclones like to run, and they did it well enough to give Kansas a huge scare Tuesday night before the Jayhawks pulled out an 83-78 win at Allen Fieldhouse in Lawrence.
Though Iowa State is the only winless team in Big 12 play, the Bears have a great deal of respect for the Cyclones and know Hilton Coliseum is always a tough place to play. Before the loss to Texas, the Cyclones dropped overtime games to Texas and Oklahoma State.
“I actually think they’re really good,” said Baylor guard Jake Lindsey. “When they started off the season, they weren’t doing too well but then they made some adjustments. Their three guards are big time, they carry a lot of the load. Their big guys do a really good job screening and rebounding and scoring when they’re asked to. I think they’ve played well in most of their games and they’ve just lost to some good teams.”
Iowa State point guard Nick Weiler-Babb is a tremendous all-around player who is averaging 12.3 points, 7.7 rebounds and 7.5 assists.
“Babb has really developed into one of the elite point guards in the country,” Drew said. “That’s been the big change. At the beginning of the year, he didn’t play point. They moved him after the first two games and totally changed their offense. That’s why they’ve been a lot better.”
The Cyclones get plenty of scoring from other places as guard Donovan Jackson is averaging a team-high 16.9 points and has hit 43.4 percent from 3-point range. Guard Lindell Wigginton is averaging 15.6 points while forward Cameron Lard is averaging 11.4 points and 6.8 rebounds.
Baylor hopes it can continue to play defense like the last two games after holding Texas to 37.3 percent shooting in last Saturday’s 69-60 win before limiting West Virginia to 31.1 percent shooting.
“We played very good defense the last two games,” Drew said. “We need to keep that up and then just take better care of the basketball and do a better job making some shots down the stretch. They do a good job not giving you anything easy, but they don’t cause you to turn it over. So we need to have single-digit turnovers this game.”
The Bears have struggled offensively in Big 12 play, ranking last in the league with a 41.3 shooting percentage and 63.5 points per game.
While center Jo Lual-Acuil has played well by averaging 18.7 points and nine rebounds while shooting 53.2 percent in conference play, point guard Manu Lecomte is the only other Baylor player averaging double figure scoring with 11.5 points.
But Lecomte has hit just 25.5 percent of his shots in the Big 12. The Bears also rank last in conference play with a 26.3 3-point shooting percentage, so they’re looking to improve their outside shooting.
Drew has emphasized to his guards to take open shots when they’re available.
“We’ve had a bunch of discussions about it here and there,” Lindsey said. “We’re figuring out roles. Me personally I just try to play the play in front of me. I try not to have any subplots in my head, like you need to shoot this many times in a game or we need to do this and that.”
The Bears have enjoyed considerable success against the Cyclones in recent years by winning five of the last six, including four wins when Iowa State was ranked in the top 15. Another win would help the Bears in a big way since they have a quick turnaround with Monday’s game against Oklahoma State at the Ferrell Center.
“That’s the Big 12,” Drew said. “The great thing is it’s all equal, it’s all fair. Everybody plays each other home and away, it seems like every game comes down to the last five minutes, and whoever executes and whoever makes a couple shots during that stretch is usually happy.”