By Foster Nicholas | Sports Writer
Scott Drew has coached 661 games as the head coach of the Baylor Bears, but even he has foes not yet faced. Drew and No. 6 Baylor men’s basketball will face Seton Hall for the first time at 8 p.m. on Tuesday in the Ferrell Center. The clash comes as part of the Big East-Big 12 Battle.
Under Drew, the Bears (8-0) are 13-3 against Big East schools and will look to win their 400th all-time contest in the Ferrell Center in its penultimate scheduled game as the home of Baylor men’s basketball.
“I think we’ve taken a lot of pride in representing the Big 12 Conference,” Drew said. “I know every league has great basketball, and everyone feels like their league is the best. Challenges like this give you an opportunity to show that.”
Baylor, which is leading the Big 12 at 13-4 all-time in conference battles, will start a three-game stretch against power conference foes, kicking off with a duel against the Pirates (5-2). The Bears will have 11 days before their next outing — a neutral-site contest against Michigan State (4-3) — and then cap it off with their first ranked opponent in No. 22 Duke (5-3) on Dec. 20.
While the upcoming foes could be seen as a scary stretch, freshman guard Miro Little said this is the type of basketball Baylor has been craving.
“We love the competition, to be honest,” Little said. “Everybody who steps in the game is hungry. That’s probably the biggest thing. Everybody’s hungry to play hard defense [and] make sure that we win the game, and that’s probably the best thing about our team and our backcourt.”
The Bears lead the nation in 3-point field goal percentage (42.9) and offensive efficiency (122.8), all while seeing the contribution of a deep rotation. Drew said he’s become comfortable playing different combinations of guys.
“Everybody brings strengths to the table, but at the same time, you’re only playing five,” Drew said. “We can cut the rotation down; if need be, we can play more. That’s the great thing: We can go to our bench, and we don’t feel like we’re losing anything. If the guys out there aren’t playing well, they’re not having one of those nights, you don’t have to sink or swim with just one or two guys.”
The Bears have six players averaging more than nine points a game, and Little said making shots just comes naturally.
“This might be the tightest group [or] team I’ve ever been a part of,” Little said. “It just makes us feel better and makes us knock down those easy shots.”
Sophomore forward Josh Ojianwuna added that this roster is capable of making a deep run given the current pace.
“From the starting five to the bench, everyone is talented enough to actually come into the game and impact the game,” Josh Ojianwuna said. “So, yeah, I feel like we have a chance to win the national championship with this team.”
Tip-off is scheduled for 8 p.m. on Tuesday in the Ferrell Center.