Regular season finale: Bears face test in tough arena

No. 22 guard A.J. Walton lays up a basket against Texas Tech Monday at the Ferrell Center. Baylor beat the Red Raiders 77-48.
Matt Hellman | Lariat Photo Editor

By Greg DeVries
Sports Writer

Baylor men’s basketball will conclude its regular season against Iowa State at 7 p.m. Saturday in Ames, Iowa. The Bears are currently one game ahead of the Cyclones in the Big 12 standings.

Seeding implications aside, a win would help assure that the Bears are playing their best basketball at an important part of the season. Finishing the season strong is a point of emphasis for every team. Senior Quincy Acy understands the importance of finishing on a winning note.

“That’s how we want to end the season, on a run. But we still have a game left in conference,” Acy said.

This team has a chance to do what no other Baylor men’s basketball team has ever done: reach 26 regular season wins.

“[This game] is big for a lot of reasons. First and foremost, we have a chance to break a record that has stood since 1946, and that’s 25 regular season wins being this school’s highest and we’ve tied that,” head coach Scott Drew said. “Now we have a chance to exceed that and have the record to ourselves.”

A Baylor loss would result in a tie for third place, but because Iowa State beat Kansas on Jan. 14, the Cyclones would be awarded the third place ranking in the Big 12 tournament.

“Definitely for seeding, not only in the NCAA Tournament, but for the Big 12 tournament, the higher is always the better,” Drew said.

In the previous meeting with the Cyclones, the Bears won by 15 points, 79-64. Sophomore Perry Jones III led the Bears with 18 points and seven rebounds on 8 of 13 shooting. Jones III is coming off of a strong performance against the Texas Tech Red Raiders that he hopes will continue.

“I made some shots that I’ve been missing for the past two weeks. My point guard and players are getting me in the flow of the game, getting me really involved and keeping me confident while I’m playing,” Jones III said. “I just have to stay focused and not worry about missing so much.”

Containing Iowa State sophomore Royce White was a point of emphasis for Baylor in the first game. He still finished with 14 points, five rebounds and four assists, but the Bears forced him to turn the ball over seven times.

“We’re trying to win every game. We don’t want to lose another game because we feel like we shouldn’t,” Acy said. “At this point in time, it’s getting close to if you lose, you go home. We have to have that mentality to win every game that we play in.”

It was Cyclone sophomore Melvin Ejim who led Iowa State in the first game. He scored 17 points and grabbed seven rebounds.

“If we didn’t have a scouting report, I wouldn’t have known that they were transfers. They play together well and they can shoot. They all can shoot,” junior Pierre Jackson said about some of the Iowa State starters. “It’s their senior night, so I know they’re going to go out and try and beat the heck out of us, but we just have to stay focused and get the win.”