Grambling State (0-0) at (16) Baylor (0-0)
Friday, November 12th, 9:30 p.m. (et)
The Sports Network
By Pat Taggart, Associate College Basketball Editor
FACTS & STATS: Site: Ferrell Center (10,284) -- Waco, Texas. Television: None. Home Record: Grambling 0-0, Baylor 0-0. Away Record: Grambling 0-0, Baylor 0-0. Neutral Record: Grambling 0-0, Baylor 0-0. Conference Record: Grambling 0-0, Baylor 0-0. Series Record: Baylor leads, 2-0.
GAME NOTES: The 16th-ranked Baylor Bears of the Big 12 Conference are set to being the 2010-11 season this evening with a non-conference battle against the Grambling Tigers, a SWAC member.
Bobby Washington saw his Grambling State club drop 21 contests last year, but the head coach has some key pieces back in the mix to make his second season with the Tigers a much more productive one. Many analysts expect the Tigers to finish in the middle of the SWAC pack this season, and that would have to be considered an accomplishment.
As for the Bears, they are coming off one of the most successful runs in program history, winning a school-record 28 games and advancing to the Elite Eight for the first time in the modern era. Head coach Scott Drew has worked wonders for the Baylor program, which is becoming a regular competitor in the Big 12 Conference. Unfortunately, the team begins this new season without its best player because of off-the-court trouble.
Baylor owns a 2-0 series lead over Grambling, and the most recent meeting took place in 2006.
Coach Washington led the Tigers to just seven wins in his first season at Grambling State, and if he plans to lead his team to loftier heights this time around he will need the backcourt tandem of Lance Feurtado and Donald Qualls to do most of the work. Qualls only stands at 5-7, but he is a determined, speedy guard who cuts through the lane and gets to the basket with relative ease. He averaged 15.2 ppg last season, and will need to put forth similar production for Grambling State to remain competitive tonight. As for Feurtado, he is also capable of handling the ball, but at 6-6 he is more of a physical player who has enjoyed success crashing the boards as well. The problem for coach Washington is that his team lacks any real experience down low. Freshmen such as Frank Snow (6-10) and Steven Danridge (6-8) will have to make an immediate impact for Grambling State to avoid being dominated in the paint.
Baylor's LacDarius Dunn averaged 19.6 ppg last season and was expected to be one of the nation's truly elite players in 2010-11. He is suspended indefinitely, however, as he faces charges of aggravated assault stemming from a domestic dispute. Dunn is a clutch performer who always seems to have the ball in his hands at clutch moments of the game, so he will certainly be missed. Backcourt help will have to come from A.J. Walton (3.8 ppg) and incoming freshmen Stargell Love. Anthony Jones (6.2 ppg, 4.8 rpg) really emerged as a low post presence as a sophomore last year, recording 10 double- doubles, and should receive plenty of aid in the blocks from 6-11 freshman center Percy Jones III, the highest-ranked recruit in Baylor history. Quincy Acy (9.3 ppg, 5.1 rpg), who shot 69.7 percent from the field last year, is also welcomed back to the frontcourt.
Even without Dunn, Baylor will stomp Grambling. However, the Bears need their leading scorer back if they plan to make a deep NCAA Tournament run, and there is no guarantee that he will be reinstated.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Baylor 80, Grambling State 54
11/12 10:38:03 ET