Fresh off a tournament victory in the Wooden Legacy Classic this last weekend, the No. 12 Arizona Wildcats (9-0) will now face their biggest test of the season to date when they take on their first ranked opponent, the No. 18 Baylor Bears (6-1), on Saturday morning in Waco, Texas.
It will be UA’s first true road game of the season as well. Tip-off is set for 10 a.m. MST on ESPNU.
Before the matchup, here are three things you should know about the Bears.
They just won an early-season tournament too
While Arizona was busy winning the Wooden Classic over Thanksgiving weekend, Baylor took care of business in a tournament of their own, when they won the Myrtle Beach Invitational with wins over Ohio, Coastal Carolina, and No. 17 Villanova.
Their success was headlined by the nine-point win over Nova in the championship game and much like the Wildcats, they will be brimming with confidence coming into Saturday’s early morning contest. (They won’t be as banged up either.)
The Bears have now won six straight games since dropping their season-opener to Washington in a game that was played in Anchorage, Alaska.
Their guards are dangerous
Highlighted by sophomore Jared Butler, who is leading Baylor with 19.4 points a game and shooting 52% from three so far this season, the Bear’s group of guards will be something that the Wildcats have to watch out for on Saturday.
Butler, MaCiao Teague (14.9 ppg), Devonte Bandoo (9.4 ppg) and Davion Mitchell (9.0 ppg) form a formidable group and the quartet are combing to score more then 65% of Baylor’s point this year (averaging 52.7 points of the team’s total average of 79.9 per game).
Arizona head coach Sean Miller heaped praise on all of them when he spoke to the media earlier this week.
“I think they have one of the best guards in the country in Jared Butler,” Miller said. “He comes into this game averaging 20, but he shoots 52 percent from three, 52 percent from the field. He’s also an outstanding defensive player. They have four guards that they play, and they rotate in at those three spots. I think the narrative is out there, they may be the best collective group of guards in college basketball.”
Head coach Scott Drew has built a winning program
Baylor’s head coach has been with the program for 17 years and during his time in Waco he’s certainly established a winning culture. BU has been to eight straight NCAA Tournaments and has averaged 24 wins per season since 2008.
“You could put him in the top five percent, maybe the top two percent of college basketball. For somebody at the high major level to be at one school for that long says a lot about him,” Miller said.
Drew’s teams are known for being well coached and playing a patented 1-1-3 zone defense, and considering Arizona under Sean Miller has a history of struggling against teams who play zone, it will be interesting to see how a possibly injury depleted UA squad will play against it.
It won’t be an easy task.