No. 5 Baylor men’s basketball set for 2021 tournament first round rematch

Dale Bonner (3) on defense against Mississippi Valley State University. Grace Everett | Photo Editor

By Gio Gennero | Sports Writer

Coming off of the third-largest victory in program history, No. 5 Baylor men’s basketball team is set for Friday’s 2021 NCAA Tournament first round rematch with Norfolk State University in the Ferrell Center. This is only the fourth time the two have met, and the Bears look to continue their win-streak of all-time meetings, as they hold the 3-0 advantage.

“First and foremost, this is a team that won its league and returns 12 players from the [NCAA] tournament team, and all five starters,” head coach Scott Drew said. “So, especially earlier in the year when you have teams that return a lot of people, they have an advantage over everyone else that’s breaking in new guys. At the same time, they have the player of the year in Joe Bryant, and they have a big guy, Kris Bankston, who’s really fun to watch. Hopefully, he’s not really fun to watch Friday night.”

Baylor (1-0) has never lost to a team from the MEAC conference, where the green and gold is currently 19-0. The program is also 39-3 in non-conference games over the last three seasons.

In its previous outing, freshmen guard Langston Love made his debut after missing all of last season with a knee injury. Love became the first player with 10+ points and 8+ rebounds in a debut with the Bears since Macio Teague in 2019. Love recorded 13 points to pair with eight rebounds.

“It’s been a while, but just a blessing from God to get back to this point,” Love said. “I have my teammates, coaches and everybody that helped me along the way. So, I feel like it wasn’t just a moment for me, it was a moment for everybody that helped me along the way.”

Drew said as the season continues, the team has to approach every game in a similar way, yet still expecting different things from different teams.

“Each game is going to have a different feel, different energy, flavor, depending on styles of play and what not,” Drew said. “Norfolk’s a team that keeps you off-balance, multiple defenses. They do press, they run a lot of stuff on the offensive end. So, different challenges. And at the same time, we have personal goals with our players each and every game and things that we want to execute, and hopefully all those execution numbers continue to rise and go up.”

Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. Friday in the Ferrell Center, and the game can be watched via Big 12 Now on ESPN+.