No. 6 Baylor will hit the road to face Marquette on Tuesday and both teams will bring some concerns along with some momentum when they square off in a Big East/Big 12 Battle matchup at Milwaukee.
The Bears (5-1) head north after an 89-60 victory at home over visiting McNeese State on Thanksgivingeve. Keyonte George scored 17 points and LJ Cryer added 16 as Baylor overcame some early doldrums and asserted itself in the second half.
Adam Flagler scored 13 points, Langston Love had 11 and Dale Bonner dished out a career-high 12 assists as the Bears outshot the Cowboys 60 percent to 32.1 percent after halftime. Baylor has won two straight after losing to then-No. 16 Virginia in the Main Event at Las Vegas on Nov. 18, including a victory over then-No. 8 UCLA, also at Las Vegas.
"First half, I didn't know if we had gotten back from Vegas or not," Baylor coach Scott Drew said. "Second half, we did a much better job defensively and imposing our will. That leaves a much better taste in our mouths.
"The energy level -- that's always a coach's biggest concern coming off of a tournament. You've got to have depth, and I thought our depth really helped us (beat McNeese)."
Baylor led 39-30 at halftime in the win over McNeese State but doubled that lead nine minutes into the second half after a 12-0 run. The Bears made all four of their shots over a nearly three-minute span that began at the 14-minute mark while McNeese State missed all four of its attempts.
"(The defense) was a difference-maker, for sure," said George, who hit three straight 3-pointers in a 64-second stretch late in the game to seal the victory. "Being in a stance, communicating to one another, and just picking up the energy and turning them over, we were able to get fast break points. And that's how we play."
Baylor has a challenging week ahead, with a game against No. 6 Gonzaga in the inaugural Peacock Classic on Friday at Sioux Falls, S.D.
The Golden Eagles (5-2) struggled at times with Chicago State in an 82-68 win on Saturday in their third game in a six-day stretch. Marquette was down by six midway through the first half but cranked up its defense and transition game to take charge.
Olivier-Maxence Prosper led the Golden Eagles with 18 points and 11 rebounds, as Marquette forced 20 turnovers and scored 35 fast-break points. Kam Jones added 15 points and Oso Ighodaro had 13 points in the victory.
"At one point we had 10 or 11 straight stops," Marquette coach Shaka Smart said. "So we had some stretches where we were really locked in. And then others that were simply not good enough. Why is that? It's probably a lot of things that go into it. We still have some growing up to do."
The Golden Eagles led 40-33 at the break and removed all suspense by scoring the first 10 points of the second half.
It also is a big week for Marquette, with state-rival Wisconsin coming into town on Saturday.
"You have to understand that certainly the margin for error goes down in those type of games," Smart said. "But at the same time, you have to play with an approach-goal mindset. Which is going after winning and the things that go into winning. As opposed to trying to avoid mistakes. Because that doesn't work."
--Field Level Media