Waco, TX – The 12th-ranked Baylor Bears kick off the 2011-12 conference action at the Ferrell Center in Waco.
The Bears enter the season with their highest preseason ranking in school history and are now one of only two Big 12 programs to be ranked in each of the last five seasons (Kansas). Baylor was an incredible 28-8 back in 2009-10, finishing 11-5 in conference play, but last year the squad took a step backwards with an 18-13 record and a 7-9 mark versus the rest of the Big 12.
As for the Tigers, they finished last season with a 19-13 overall record and were an impressive 16-2 against the rest of the Southwestern Athletic Conference. However, after the team defeated Arkansas-Pine Bluff in the SWAC Tournament, the squad was bounced by Alabama State (73-66) and then lost to Colorado (88-74) in the NIT as well under head coach Tony B. Harvey.
With respect to the all-time series between these two schools on the hardwood, the Bears have won all six previous meetings, the most recent of which being a 68-60 decision last season in Waco. Baylor has never lost to a team from the SWAC, posting a perfect 39-0 record over the years. Under head coach Scott Drew, now entering his ninth season, the Bears are 20-0 versus SWAC programs.
The Tiger welcome back three starters from a year ago, with Lawrence Johnson- Danner as the top man on that list after starting all but one of the team's 32 games. Johnson-Danner was responsible for 13.1 ppg as he played more than 33 minutes per outing. Johnson-Danner turned into the most productive perimeter shooter for Texas Southern in 2010-11, as he connected on 74-of-184 (.402) of his three-point tries, yet his 41.9 percent shooting from the floor overall was not quite up to snuff. Timothy Price is also an experienced starter, although he played a very small role in the team's production with just 2.1 ppg and 2.4 rpg. Daniel King (5.0 ppg) is another returning starter for the squad and he shot 57.8 percent from the floor, which was only marginally better than his woeful 53.2 percent effort at the free-throw line.
As the top returning scorer for the Bears, Perry Jones III will not be in action tonight because he has been suspended for the first five games of the season in order to fulfill a six-game suspension handed down by the NCAA last March. Without Jones, the Bears will lean heavily on Quincy Acy who accounted for 12.4 ppg and was tops on the glass with 7.6 rpg last season. Acy will take over the action in the paint for the team, while freshman Quincy Miller lends a hand along the front line. Considered one of the top incoming players in the Big 12, Miller is coming off season-ending ACL injury as high school senior. Fellow freshman Duece Bello is installed as one of the three starting guards, along with Pierre Jackson and Brady Heslip, transfers from Southern Idaho and Boston College, respectively.