By Greg DeVries
Unless your spring break destination was somewhere televisions don’t yet exist, such as the moon, the Shire, or College Station, you are probably aware the Baylor men’s basketball team has reached the Sweet 16.
Baylor defeated 14-seed South Dakota State 68-60 Thursday and 11-seed Colorado 80-63 Saturday to reach the semifinals of the South Region.
While in Albuquerque, N.M., sophomore Brady Heslip scored 44 points on 63.6 percent shooting from the 3-point arc.
Heslip took 25 shots, and three of them weren’t 3-pointers. Two were free throws.
“This is probably the best [I have felt] all year. Starting with the Big 12 tournament, I kind of had a meeting with coach [Scott Drew] before, and he told me he wants me to be more aggressive,” Heslip said. “I can’t just stand in the corner and wait for people to feed me open shots. I have to get the ball coming off of ball screens, moving and set screens to get the defense shifting.”
The Bears will play the Xavier Musketeers in Atlanta on Friday.
Xavier has accumulated wins over Vanderbilt, Purdue and Notre Dame this season and is led by seniors Tu Holloway and Kenny Frease.
“I think everybody knows about Tu. First of all, he’s got a name that stands out, and second of all, he’s got a game that does,” Drew said. “[Our players] all know what a great player he is, but their backcourt with [Junior Mark] Lyons … those two together really do a lot of great things. This time of year, if you have a good backcourt, you have a chance to keep playing in March.”
Holloway is expected to play in the NBA next season. He averages 17 points and 5.1 assists for the Musketeers. In the last two games, Holloway has scored 46 points on over 53 percent shooting.
Frease only averages 9.5 points and 6.1 rebounds per game, but he is capable of putting up great numbers.
Against Lehigh, Frease scored 25 points on 11 of 13 shooting and grabbed 12 rebounds.
“Throughout the year, he worked on his game and got better,” senior Anthony Jones said. “He pretty much carried them yesterday to the Sweet 16. If it wasn’t for him and his performance, I’m pretty sure we’d be playing Lehigh.”
Frease will likely be matched up with a combination of senior Quincy Acy and sophomore Perry Jones III.
“You kind of have to get up under him, play mind games with him,” Acy said. “Don’t let him get too comfortable.”
Recently, Drew has gone with a three-guard lineup with junior Pierre Jackson, junior A.J. Walton, and Heslip.
“Each guard brings something different to the game. Pierre Jackson, great point guard, he can get to any spot that he wants to whenever he wants to,” Walton said. “Brady Heslip, as you have seen, can go crazy from the 3-point line … myself, I bring that defensive intensity.”
Baylor has only played Xavier once in program history. This game came in 2009 in a neutral-site game in Florida. Baylor won the game 69-64.
“It’s going to be a battle,” Walton said. “For 40 minutes, they’re going to get Baylor basketball.”