Cougars battle Bears in non-conference tussle

Hitting the road for the first time this season, the College of Charleston Cougars have made the trek to the Lone Star State to tangle with the 24th-ranked Baylor Bears.

Charleston is 2-2 on the young season, having won its opener versus Towson (75-58) and then dropping a pair to St. John's (64-53) and Auburn (55-51) before regrouping to knock off Boston College (71-67) -- the last three games being part of the Charleston Classic. This bout marks the first of three straight the Cougars will play away from home, and this is the first of two they will play against a ranked opponent, Louisville being the other (Dec. 4) prior to the start of Southern Conference play which begins for CofC at home against Furman on Jan. 5, 2013.

Baylor is 4-1 to this point in the campaign, and it goes in search of its 30th straight home win over non-conference competition tonight. The Bears' four wins have all come by double figures, with their average margin of victory being 20.5 ppg. The team's lone setback was against former Big 12 rival Colorado (60-58). BU is hosting the Cougars after playing the last three games in Charleston, and the team's most recent bout resulted in a 97-78 triumph over St. John's. Following this game, the Bears will be idle until heading to Lexington to challenge the defending national champion Kentucky Wildcats on Dec. 1. Baylor opens Big 12 play versus Texas on Jan. 5, 2013.

This game marks the first meeting between CofC and Baylor on the hardwood.

The Cougars haven't exactly lit up the scoreboard this season, as they average just 62.5 ppg in hitting 44.3 percent of their total shots, including 36.7 percent of their three-point tries. Defensively, they have been on point for the most part in yielding a mere 61.0 ppg behind typical shooting outputs of .396 overall and .324 from beyond the arc. Charleston has done a solid job coming up with loose balls after missed shots (+6.3 rebounding margin), but has had trouble keeping possession at times (-5.7 turnover margin). Andrew Lawrence is a 59.1 percent shooter and he leads the team in scoring with 15.0 ppg, while Trent Wiedeman (11.7 ppg) and Anthony Stitt (10.3 ppg, 2.8 apg) round out the unit's double-digit scorers. Wiedeman however, is out indefinitely with an ankle injury. Lawrence was high man for the Cougars in their recent win over Boston College, as he tallied 22 points. Stitt added 12 points, five rebounds and four assists, while Anthony Thomas chipped in with 10 points. Willis Hall scored just eight points in 30 minutes of action, but he grabbed a game-high 11 boards.

Generating offense hasn't been a problem for Baylor early on, as the team is hitting 51.9 percent of its field goal attempts in putting up a robust 83.2 ppg. Additionally, the Bears outwork the opposition on the glass (+10.4 rebounding margin) while holding those same foes to 67.2 ppg on 42.1 percent field goal efficiency, but 39.1 percent from three-point range. Pierre Jackson has taken it upon himself to be the team leader in several areas, notably scoring (20.2 ppg) and assists (7.0 apg). Three others are averaging double digits in scoring, and big men Cory Jefferson (16.0 ppg, 9.6 rpg, 2.6 bpg) and Isiah Austin (14.8 ppg, 9.0 rpg) are working hard at both ends of the court. In the recent win over St. John's, Brady Heslip, the fourth of BU's top scoring options (11.6 ppg), drained eight treys in netting 29 points, while Jefferson logged a monster double-double with 20 points and 14 rebounds. Austin had a double-double of his own with 13 points and 13 boards, and Jackson nearly had one as well as he scored 19 points and handed out eight assists. The Bears shot 54.5 percent from the field, hit 11 three-pointers, outscored the Red Storm at the foul line (26-10), and dominated the boards (41-20).