ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. _ Baylor coach Scott Drew said today that the four-guard offense for South Dakota State, the Bears' first-round opponent in the NCAA Tournament, reminds him most closely of Missouri in terms of teams the Bears (27-7) played this season.
One problem: Baylor was 0-3 against Missouri. One reality check: South Dakota State (27-7) lacks the same physical, inside punch as Missouri to accompany their three-point shooters.
The teams meet at 6:27 p.m. Thursday in The Pit and the Jackrabbits feature four players who are making at least 40.6 percent of their shots from behind the 3-point arc. All four have attempted at least 98 long-range shots this season.
“Playing a team like Missouri might help prepare us a little bit because they shoot the three so well,” Drew said. “They’re just as effective from 23 or 24 feet as they would be on the college line (20 feet, 9 inches).”
Baylor guard Brady Heslip said: “We’re going to have to guard the three-point line better than we’ve guarded it all year.”
Disputing Davis: Baylor point guard Pierre Jackson made it clear he was not thrilled by CBS analyst Seth Davis’ prediction _ uttered during Sunday’s selection show _ that SDSU, a No. 14 seed, would upset third-seeded Baylor in tonight’s first-round contest.
“I really could care less what he had to say,” Jackson said. “I just see it as another person stating an opinion. But he just happened to be on TV. I know me and my teammates are ready to play.”
SDSU coach Scott Nagy said Davis “didn’t help us there” with his high-profile prediction.
“It was a nice thing to say,” Nagy said. “But Baylor doesn’t need any extra incentive to stick it to us.”
Baylor forward Quincy Acy, the lone senior in the Bears’ starting lineup, said his primary motivation stems from the desire to extend his college career as long as possible _ not Davis’ prediction.
“It’s win or go home. For me to go home, I’m not coming back,” Acy said. “So, that’s it.”
Staying selfish: Baylor forward Perry Jones III, the Bears’ leading scorer (14.0) and rebounder (7.7), said he plans to continue the me-first approach on the offensive end that helped him average 21.7 points per game in last week’s Big 12 Tournament. Teammates urged him to be more aggressive in Kansas City and have repeated that request this week.
“So for me to be unselfish, I have to be a little more selfish for the benefit of the team,” Jones said. “That’s what they want me to do.”
Stadium construction: Baylor athletic director Ian McCaw said the school’s on-campus football stadium will require 24 months to construct. To open as planned for the 2014 season, the fund-raising stage must be completed by this summer. But he is optimistic about reaching that goal.
Because of momentum created by the Bears’ banner year for sports success, McCaw said: “This probably is the best time in the 167-year history of Baylor (to raise funds).”
_ Jimmy Burch