Men's Hoops Preview: Baylor at Texas A&M

BAYLOR (9-7, 1-4) at TEXAS A&M (13-4, 2-4)
Jan. 29, 2005 - Reed Arena (College Station, Texas) - 5:00 p.m. CST

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After facing four ranked opponents in its first five Big 12 games, Baylor travels to College Station for a Saturday, Jan. 29, matchup against Texas A&M at Reed Arena. Tipoff is scheduled for 5 p.m. CST and the game will televised live on FSN Southwest. The Bears are 9-7, 1-4 on the season following an 86-66 loss to No. 6 Kansas Tuesday in Waco. Baylor, the nation's most inexperienced team, is playing with limited scholarships and with nine newcomers. The Aggies are 13-4, 2-4 coming off a 77-67 defeat at Nebraska Wednesday. Saturday marks the 190th renewal of the hardwood version of the Battle of the Brazos, Baylor's second-most played rivalry.

- Saturday is the 190th renewal of the Battle of the Brazos (BU's 2nd-longest rivalry).
- In its first five Big 12 games, Baylor faced the league's top four teams.
- With 9 wins, Baylor has surpassed last season's win total (8-21).
- Aaron Bruce ranks 7th in FG shooting (50%) and 1st in FT shooting (89%) [1 3-pointer shy of ranking 3rd in 3FG% - 40.3%].
- Billy Clyde Gillespie was an assistant coach at Baylor for 2 seasons (1995-97).
- Aaron Bruce (88.9%) and Tim Bush (86.0%) rank 1st & 2nd in Big 12 FT shooting.
- Baylor has been outscored 55-0 in bench points the last 2 games (0-2).
- Bears have shot 26 percent (17-of-66) on 3-pointers last 3 games [39.3% prior].
- Baylor is the nation's most inexperienced team (only 1 returning scholarship player).
- Aaron Bruce is the second-highest scoring freshman in the nation (16.6 ppg).
- Baylor is 11-0 when scoring 70+ points (under Coach Drew; 2 seasons).
- Baylor is 2nd in the Big 12 in steals averaging 8.88 per game.
- Tim Bush has hit just 1 of his last 13 3-pointers attempted over the past 3 games.
- Baylor is 8-2 when holding opponents under 50% field goal shooting.
- Baylor has dressed 7 or fewer scholarship players for 45 straight games [17-28 record] (since final game of 2002-2003 season).
- Baylor has an 8-2 record when Patrick Fields scores 10-plus points.
- BU is 1-19 when allowing opponents to shoot 50% or higher (in 2 years under Drew).
- Baylor is 13-16 (.448) vs. Big 12 North & just 8-37 (.178) vs. Southern schools over last 5 seasons.
- Underclassmen have led Baylor in scoring in 14 of 16 games.
- Baylor ranks 2nd in the Big 12 in 3-point shooting, averaging 7.3 3s per game.
- Freshman Aaron Bruce is on Dick Vitale's Super Six All-Diaper Dandies listing.
- 90 of Kevis Shipman's 105 points scored (86%) this year are from 3-pointers (30).
- Baylor is 6-0 when recording more points in the paint than its opponent this season.
- Baylor is currently playing with 6 active scholarship players and 5 walk-ons.
- Baylor's roster includes two active players taller than 6-6 (Tommy Swanson 6-10 and walk-on Mark Shepherd 6-9) [freshman Mamadou Diene, 7-0, has yet to dress].
- 4 Bears have double-digit scoring averages.
- Aaron Bruce was named the Midseason Big 12 Freshman of the Year by the Rocky Mountain News.
- Junior Tommy Swanson has made 45 straight starts (BU's longest streak since Terry Black & DeMarcus Minor started all 60 games during 1999-00 and 2000-01).

Scott Drew is in his second season of the massive rebuilding project he undertook at Baylor and owns a two-year mark of 17-28 and a career record of 37-39 (3 seasons). Drew spent 10 seasons at Valparaiso, the last as head coach after nine seasons as an assistant to his father Homer. During his decade at Valpo, the Crusaders earned six NCAA Tournament berths, including five straight from 1996-2000. An outstanding recruiter, Drew is responsible for four national Top-20 recruiting classes over the last six years. He was named the 1998-99 National Recruiter of the Year by Court Vision and helped produce what HoopScoop named the nation's sixth best recruiting class in 2001, the 10th best in 2004, the 13th best in 1999 and the 19th best in 2003.

Texas A&M (13-4, 2-4) is led by head coach Billy Gillespie, in his first season in College Station and his third season as a collegiate head coach. Gillespie, who was a Baylor assistant coach from 1995-97, owns a 43-36 career record.

A&M NOTES: Texas A&M is 12-1 at home this season... The Aggies are led by junior G/F Antoine Wright, who averages 17.3 points and 5.9 rebounds... The A&M defense ranks second in the Big 12 in points allowed (59.9), field goal percentage (37.0%) and rebounds allowed (31.4).

Saturday marks the 190th edition of the Battle of the Brazos; the second-longest rivalry in Baylor's history, trailing only the series with Texas (220 games). The Aggies lead the series 118-71, though the Bears have won seven of the last 10 meetings including a two-game sweep last season. Baylor has lost eight of the last 10 meetings against A&M in College Station, but won a 67-61 overtime decision last season.

Over the last three games the Bears have shot poorly from beyond the arc, shooting 26 percent (17-of-66) on 3-pointers [team shot 39.3% prior to that]. Contributing to the poor three-game stretch are Tim Bush (1-for-13 3FGs last 3 games), Patrick Fields (2-for-11) and Aaron Bruce (4-for-20).

Baylor newcomers Aaron Bruce (88.9%) and Tim Bush (86.0%) rank first and second, respectively, in the Big 12 in free throw shooting. Bruce's 88.9 percent ranks 20th nationally.

With a 16.6 scoring average, Aaron Bruce ranks second among the nation's freshmen in points per game, trailing Auburn's Toney Douglas (18.6 ppg).

True freshman G Aaron Bruce has led the inexperienced Bears since the start of his young career. Bruce has started every game and leads the Bears in scoring (16.6 ppg; 7th in Big 12) and free throw shooting (88.9%; 1st in Big 12, 20th nationally) and is second in 3-point percentage (40.3%) and minutes played (33.1 mpg). Bruce has scored in double-digits in 11 straight games and 15-of-16 overall.

True freshman Aaron Bruce tops the Big 12 freshmen in four major categories: Scoring (1st, 16.6 ppg); field goal percentage (1st, 49.2%); 3-point field goal percentage (1st, 40.3%); and free throw percentage (1st, 88.9%).

Sophomore F Tim Bush, a transfer from LSU, has made an immediate impact since gaining his eligibility following the fall semester. Bush is averaging 15.1 points [10th in Big 12], 5.5 rebounds [19th in Big 12], 33.5 minutes, is shooting 86.0% on free throws [2nd in Big 12] and has scored in double-digits in 11 of 12 games. Bush is playing substantial minutes for the first time in four seasons. After not playing his senior season of high school, Bush played just 36 minutes in 10 games for LSU as a true freshman in 2002-03 and transferred prior to last season - which he sat out at Baylor as a redshirt.

Junior C Tommy Swanson, Baylor's only scholarship returnee, has stepped into his role as a major contributor in scoring and rebounding for the young Bears. Swanson has increased his average points to 13.7 (from 6.4 as a sophomore), shooting percentage to 56 percent [3rd in Big 12] (from 45), rebounds to 6.8 [12th in Big 12] (from 4.1) and minutes to 29.5 (from 22.1). Swanson has made 45 consecutive starts, Baylor's longest streak since Terry Black and DeMarcus Minor started all 60 games of the 1999-00 and 2000-01 seasons.

Through 16 games of his career, freshman Aaron Bruce has established himself as a proficient shooter. The guard from Australia, tabbed the Big 12's "best jump shooter" in Lindy's preseason publication, currently ranks seventh in the Big 12 field goal shooting (83-of-167, 49.7%) and first in free throw shooting (46-of-52; 88.5%) [one 3-pointer shy of ranking second in 3-point shooting (30-of-72, 41.7%)].

Dick Vitale included Baylor true freshman Aaron Bruce among his "Super Six All-Diaper Dandies" - a listing of the top freshman in the nation published in January. Vitale wrote: "Coming via Australia, he is a lethal three-point shooter who is putting up big numbers for Scott Drew's Bears." Joining Bruce on the list were Jordan Farmar (UCLA), Daniel Gibson (Texas), Malik Hairston (Oregon), D.J. White (Indiana) and Marvin Williams (North Carolina).

Despite losing nine lettermen from it's 2003-2004 depleted roster, Baylor has surpassed its win total from last season. With a 67-59 victory over Colorado last week, the Bears upped their win total to nine. In 2003-2004, the first in Scott Drew's rebuilding project, the undermanned Bears finished 8-21 (3-13 in the Big 12).

Baylor incoming freshman Mamadou Diene arrived on campus Tuesday night. Diene, a 7-foot, 200-pound center from Yeumbeul, Senegal, was Scott Drew's first-ever signee at Baylor and one of the top international prospects when he signed with Baylor in 2003.

THE LAST MEETING: BAYLOR 67 - TEXAS A&M 61 OT [Feb. 25, 2004]
Seniors Matt Sayman and Terrance Thomas made huge contributions late in the game to lead gutsy Baylor to an improbable 67-61 overtime win over Texas A&M at Reed Arena, breaking a 10-game losing streak in true road games. A&M led 57-55 when Antoine Wright was fouled with 23 seconds remaining in regulation. Wright missed the front end of a one-and-one. Terrance Thomas threw up a wild shot in traffic for the Bears that bounced off both sides of the rim before dropping in with 14 seconds to go. He also drew a foul, but missed the free throw. Wright was fouled again for A&M with three seconds remaining but missed both free throws this time, sending the game into overtime. Sayman took control in overtime, as Baylor went on a 10-2 run to start the extra period and held the Aggies to just four points. Sayman scored eight of his 15 points in OT. A&M led by as many as eight points twice in the second half, but turnovers and poor defense allowed Baylor back into it each time. The win completed Baylor's first sweep of Texas A&M since 1999-2000. With six minutes remaining, Baylor's Tommy Swanson hit a 3-pointer to cut the lead to one. A minute later, Corey Herring took an offensive rebound and drove to the basket for an uncontested layup, giving Baylor its first lead of the second half. Another easy layup by Herring capped a 13-3 run by Bears. With 2:24 remaining Wright banked a 3-pointer off the glass to retake the lead, breaking a stretch of over six minutes without an A&M field goal.

Over the last five seasons Baylor has had much more success against Big 12 North schools than those in the South. Baylor is 13-16 (.448) the last five seasons vs. Northern schools and just 8-37 (.178) vs. teams in the South.

Baylor's matchup zone limited the sixth-ranked Jayhawks' inside game but Kansas more than made for it by nailing a school-record 16 3-pointers to down the Bears 86-66 at the Ferrell Center. Wayne Simien got the Jayhawks off to a fast start with seven points - including the first two baskets - in a 15-2 run to open the game. Baylor never got closer than seven points after Kansas' game-opening run. Baylor cut the deficit to 54-45 on two free throws by Tim Bush with 13:40 left. But Simien had consecutive baskets to start a 10-1 run and the Bears never got closer than 12 after that. The Jayhawks finished 16-of-27 from beyond the arc. Aaron Bruce led Baylor with 23 points, while Tommy Swanson had 17 and Bush 14. Giddens had 11 points in the first half, hitting three of his four 3-pointers. Giddens made two long 3s from the top of the key in a 45-second span late in the half for a 38-24 lead. After a 3 by Aaron Miles gave the Jayhawks a 48-29 lead early in the second half, Baylor had a 9-1 run and was within 49-38 after two 3-pointers by Kevis Shipman.

Twice this season Baylor newcomers have been honored as Big 12 Rookie of the Week. In back-to-back weeks, sophomore F Tim Bush (Jan. 3) and true freshman G Aaron Bruce (Dec. 27) won the award. Bush, a transfer from LSU, received the award after leading the Bears to wins over Purdue and Prairie View A&M and averaging 21.5 points and 8.5 rebounds. Bruce, a native of Australia, was honored for his performance in a win over Maryland-Eastern Shore in which he scored a game-high 22 points and shot 73 percent (8-for-11) from the field - including 4-for-7 from 3-point distance. This is the first time Baylor has had two players named rookie of the week in the same season since 2001-2002, when former Bears John Lucas III (twice) and Lawrence Roberts were so honored.

Baylor returned just three players from it's 2003-04 roster this season, including two walk-ons. Nine new players were included on the 2004-05 preseason roster. Baylor is the nation's only team (and the only team in recent memory) to have only one scholarship returnee. The three returnees had a combined total of four seasons of experience at the Division I level prior to this season. The 2004-05 roster includes nine underclassmen. This marks Baylor's second consecutive season of enduring short roster numbers (the Bears suited up between five and seven scholarship players during the 2003-04 season). Baylor has dressed 7 or fewer scholarship players for 45 straight games (since final game of 2002-03 season; 17-28 record during that span).

The 2004-2005 Baylor roster includes seven newcomers and an additional two players who sat out last season. The nine new faces include three junior college transfers (junior G Kevis Shipman, sophomore G Roscoe Biggers and G/F Patrick Fields); one Division I transfer (sophomore F Tim Bush); and five high schoolers (G Aaron Bruce, C Mamadou Diene, G/F Hall Henderson, F Richard Hurd, F Mark Shepherd).

Nine lettermen from Baylor's season-opening 2003-2004 roster are not on the 2004-2005 edition. With those departed players the Bears have lost 88.8 percent of their scoring and 86.4 percent of last season's rebounding. Gone is Baylor's all-time games-played leader Matt Sayman, the USBL's No. 1 draft pick R.T. Guinn, talented All-District honoree Terrance Thomas, the scoring of third-team All-Big 12 selection Harvey Thomas and 22-game starter Carl Marshall. Four players left due to graduation/expired eligibility (Guinn, Robbie McKenzie, Sayman, T. Thomas), three transferred (Will Allen, Corey Herring, Marshall), one left to play professionally (H. Thomas) and one was dismissed from the team (Ellis Kidd Jr.).

Baylor's five-man early signee class is rated the 11th-best class in the nation according to HoopScoop and is one of the highest rated recruiting classes in recent school history. The class includes three national Top-100 players and three Top-10 state recruits. The signees include four prep seniors, Henry Dugat of Dayton (Texas) High School, Curtis Jerrells of Del Valle High School in Austin, Texas, Kevin Rogers of South Oak Cliff High School in Dallas and Jari Vanttaja of Oulu, Finland; as well as Tony Jones, a freshman at Hill College in Hillsboro, Texas.

Rogers, a 6-8, 220-pound power forward, is rated the 35th-best recruit nationally by Rivals and Hoop Alliance and the sixth-best recruit in the state by Rivals. Dugat is a 6-0, 160-pound combo guard rated No. 69 nationally by and the fifth-best recruit in the state by TexasHoops. Jerrells, a 6-1, 170-pound point guard, was named to the TABC 4A All-State second team. He is rated the No. 94 recruit nationally by Rivals and the No. 7 recruit in Texas by Texas Roundball. Vanttaja is a 6-10, 215-pound forward who recently averaged 14 points and 5.5 rebounds for the Finnish Junior National Team at the Albert Schweitzer Tournament in Mannheim, Germany. According to HoopScoop, if Vanttaja played in the U.S. he would be rated among the Top 50 high school prospects. Jones is a 6-7, 185-pound forward who redshirted the 2003-2004 season at Hill College and will have three seasons of eligibility at Baylor.

Name		Pos.	Ht.	Wt.	Yr.	Hometown (Schools)
Henry Dugat	G	6-0	160	Fr.	Dayton, Texas (Dayton HS)
Curtis Jerrells	G	6-1	170	Fr.	Austin, Texas (Del Valle HS)
Tony Jones	F	6-7	185	So.	San Antonio, Texas (Taft HS/Hill College)
Kevin Rogers	F	6-8	220	Fr.	Dallas, Texas (South Oak Cliff HS)
Jari Vanttaja	F	6-10	215	Fr.	Oulu, Finland (South Tapiola HS)

The Bears play a second straight road contest when they face Iowa State Tuesday, Feb. 1, in Ames, Iowa. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. at Hilton Coliseum.



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