Basketball season begins

Head coach Scott Drew calls a play during the game against the Cowboys. The Bears lost 74-65 to Oklahoma State.

Baylor basketball begins its season on a high note when they take on the Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks at 8:30 p.m. today at the Ferrell Center.

The Bears have won nine consecutive home-openers.

Last year, Baylor tied for fourth in the Big 12 and earned a No. 3 seed in the NCAA Tournament for a second consecutive season, giving the program its first back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances.

However, the Bears suffered a disappointing end to the season last year in the NCAA tournament, as they lost in the first round.

This season, Baylor will be led by senior forwards Taurean Prince and Rico Gathers, who were both named to the Malone Award Watch List. The list recognizes the top power forwards in Division I men’s basketball.

The two players are anticipated to be key contributors for the Bears, as they ranked near the top of the conference in several categories.

Gathers, a 6-foot-8, 275-pound forward, averaged 11.6 points per game and 11.6 rebounds per game. He was the only Power-5 conference player to average more than 11 points and 11 rebounds per game, and was a first-team All-Big 12 selection.

Fellow frontcourt member Prince will look to continue his noteworthy shooting numbers.

The 6-foot-7, 220-pound marksman averaged 13.9 points in 26.3 minutes per game (.395 three point percentage).

Prince’s offensive production earned him second-team All-Big 12 honoree selection.

He also spent time on Team USA for the 2015 Pan American Games, where he started every game and helped the team win a bronze medal.

Many analysts have speculated that the international exposure has helped Prince add to his impressive offensive repertoire.

Looking to stop the Bears will be last year’s Southland Conference champions – Stephen F. Austin.

Statistically, the Lumberjacks have been one of the most efficient scoring teams in the country, averaging nearly 80 points per game. Their productive offense helped SFA reach the NCAA tournament and claim the No. 12 seed.

This year the Lumberjacks will be led by senior forward Thomas Walkup and sophomore guard Ty Charles.

Walkup’s ability to score in a number of ways proved invaluable last season for the Lumberjacks, and he’ll look to improve upon his 15.6 points per game and 6.5 rebounds per game.

Arguably Stephen F. Austin’s most promising player, Charles, will also look to establish himself as one of the best guards in the Southland Conference.

Last season, he averaged 8.6 points and five rebounds per game (.403 three point percentage) in his first year.

Tonight marks the 16th overall meeting between the two sides with Baylor holding the series lead at 9-6.