Cougars Trek To Texas For Top 25 Road Test at Baylor
COLLEGE OF CHARLESTON (2-2, 0-0 SoCon) vs. #24/#21 BAYLOR (4-1, 0-0 Big 12)
November 24, 2012 • 9:00 p.m. (ET)
Ferrell Center (10,284)
at Waco, Texas
Radio: College of Charleston Radio Network (ESPN Radio 910 AM)
Series History: First Meeting
Last Meeting: None
Internet: Free Live Statistics at www.CofCSports.com
College of Charleston: Doug Wojcik
First Year at CofC: 2-2 (.500)
Eighth Year Overall: 142-94 (.602)
Baylor: Scott Drew
10th Year at Baylor: 161-125 (.563)
11th Year Overall: 181-136 (.571)
RADIO (College of Charleston Radio Network)
Play-By-Play: Jeff McCarragher
Color Analyst: Everett German
Play-By-Play: Jonathan Yardley
Color Analyst: Stephen Howard
The College of Charleston men's basketball team will trek to the state of Texas for a post-Thanksgiving Top 25 road test at No. 24/21-ranked Baylor on Saturday, Nov. 24 at the Ferrell Center in Waco, Texas. Tipoff between the Cougars (2-2) and Bears (4-1) is set for 9 p.m. (ET) / 8 p.m. (CT) and will be carried live on ESPN3 via WatchESPN.com. Both squads have enjoyed almost a week off from competition after playing three games in four days in the eight-team ESPN Charleston Classic presented by Foster Grant on Nov. 15-16 & 18, where CofC and Baylor placed seventh and third respectively. Saturday's matchup is an extension of the tournament as a non-bracketed game. The Cougars are coming off a quality 71-67 win over Boston College out of the ACC, while the Bears defeated St. John's (97-78). BU will be one of two schools in CofC's next four-game stretch, who reached the 2012 NCAA Elite Eight or better, next to an upcoming home rematch with No. 2-ranked and 2012 Final Four participant Louisville on Dec. 4 at TD Arena. The Cougars will have a tough task on Saturday having to defend the nation's No. 22-ranked scoring offense (83.2 ppg) and No. 14-best shooting team from the floor (51.9%) in Baylor.
BAYLOR AT A GLANCE
Baylor has won four of its first five season-opening contests by an average margin of 16 points per game and would have went unbeaten had it not been for a two-point setback to former Big 12 Conference foe Colorado (60-58) on the second day of the Charleston Classic. Just a year ago, the Bears set a new school record for most wins (30) in a single season under 10th-year head coach Scott Drew and made their second Elite Eight appearance in the last three seasons. They have four players currently averaging double figures in scoring including freshman center Isaiah Austin, who is a projected NBA Draft lottery pick averaging 14.8 points per game, which is third-most on the team.
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BATTLE OF THE GUARDS
Two of the nation's top point guards and probable candidates for the 2013 Bob Cousy Collegiate Point Guard of the Year Award will be on hand on Saturday in College of Charleston's Andrew Lawrence, who is a preseason All-Southern Conference Team selection, and Baylor's Pierre Jackson, who is preseason Big 12 Player of the Year. Last season, Lawrence turned in his first 100+ assist season of his career and distributed five-or-more assists in 23 contest. He also ranked second in the SoCon and No. 31 nationally in assists per game (5.5 avg.) and third in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.06). Lawrence, who was one of two collegians on an Olympic Team roster this summer for Great Britain, missed the Auburn game on Nov. 16 due to a stomach virus, while Jackson currently is tied for 11th nationally averaging 7.0 assists per game.
CofC will face four consecutive BCS schools in St. John's (BIG EAST), Auburn (SEC), Boston College (ACC) and Baylor (Big 12) for the first time in program history since becoming a Division I member school in 1991-92. Prior to Saturday's game versus the Bears, CofC had not played three-straight major-conference schools in a row since playing Arizona State (then Pac-10), No. 21 Stanford (then Pac-10) and No. 8 Kentucky (SEC) in the Great Alaska Shootout during the beginning of its 1996-97 campaign under legendary head coach John Kresse. The only other time they faced three in a row was against South Carolina (SEC), Penn State (Big Ten) and Alabama (SEC) in 1993-94.
PROJECTED COLLEGE OF CHARLESTON STARTERS
#22 Anthony Stitt, G, 6-1, 180, So. (10.3 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 2.8 apg, 34.0 min)
#4 Andrew Lawrence, G, 6-1, 185, Sr. (15.0 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 3.0 apg, 25.0 min)
#3 Anthony Thomas, F, 6-7, 207, Jr. (8.8 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 1.0 apg, 28.5 min)
#53 Willis Hall, F, 6-6, 235, RS-Jr. (4.0 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 0.8 apg, 14.5 min)
#1 Adjehi Baru, F, 6-9, 225, So. (6.3 ppg, 7.8 rpg, 0.8 apg, 30.5 min)
PROJECTED BAYLOR STARTERS
#55 Pierre Jackson, G, 5-10, 180, Sr. (20.2 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 7.0 apg, 32.8 min)
#5 Brady Heslip, G, 6-2, 180, Jr. (11.6 ppg, 1.8 rpg, 0.8 apg, 28.2 min)
#22 A.J. Walton, G, 6-1, 184, Sr. (5.0 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 4.4 apg, 24.2 min)
#34 Cory Jefferson, F, 6-9, 210, Jr. (16.0 ppg, 9.6 rpg, 0.0 apg, 32.4 min)
#21 Isaiah Austin, C, 7-1, 220, Fr. (14.8 ppg, 9.0 rpg, 1.0 apg, 27.8 min)
COUGARS AGAINST THE TOP 25
The Cougars are 5-17 all-time versus teams ranked in The Associated Press Top 25 Poll including recent road meetings at No. 25 North Carolina (L, 74-69) in 2010-11 and at No. 7 Louisville (L, 69-62) in 2011-12. CofC's last win over a top 25 opponent occurred against then No. 9-ranked North Carolina (82-79 OT) in 2009-10, which snapped a seven-game losing skid against a ranked foe.
NOT IN UNFAMILIAR TERRITORY
To be the best, you have to play the best. The Cougars will not be in unfamiliar territory at Baylor on Saturday having played in some of the toughest arenas in the country through the years. The trend began with John Kresse and continued under former head coach Bobby Cremins and current head coach Doug Wojcik. Having built the reputation as "Giant Killers," the Cougars, and this year's squad in particular, are no strangers to hostile environments having played at Maryland (2010), North Carolina (2010), Tennessee (2010), Clemson (2011) and Louisville (2011) over the last three years.
"We do not get entangled in the whole, 'we are playing at a big school.' Those guys put on gym shorts and a jersey the same way we do. Just because they are at Louisville, doesn't mean the game changes. You just have to go out and play the way you know how to play." - CofC Redshirt Junior Forward Willis Hall on the Cougars being accustomed to playing big schools year-in and year-out
TRAVELING TO THE LONE STAR STATE
The Cougars will trek to the Lone Star State for only the second time in program history this weekend. They previously played UT Arlington in a home-and-home series during their first season as an NCAA Division I member during the 1991-92 inaugural campaign under former head coach John Kresse. CofC went 2-0 that season against the Mavericks including an 83-70 win on its home court on Dec. 28, 1991 and a 67-64 road victory on Jan. 6, 1992 in Arlington, Texas.
AGAINST THE BIG 12
CofC is 2-1 all-time against teams hailing from the newly-aligned Big 12 Conference including a 2-0 mark against first-year member TCU and a 0-1 mark versus Oklahoma State. This will be only the second time the Cougars will have played on the road at a Big 12 school next to a 67-49 loss at OSU on Dec. 18, 1996 in Stillwater, Okla. Not counting its two wins in the 2000 Hawai'i Pacific Thanksgiving Classic (76-71) and the 2008 Charleston Classic (86-75) against TCU, who were then members of the Mountain West Conference, CofC has never beaten an original Big 12 opponent including a close 74-72 loss to former league member Nebraska in the Puerto Rico Shootout in 1994.
WIEDEMAN OUT INDEFINITELY
2012 Preseason All-Southern Conference Team selection Trent Wiedeman (Suwanee, Ga.) is out indefinitely after suffering a sprained right ankle in CofC's 55-51 loss versus Auburn in the 2012 ESPN Charleston Classic on Nov. 16. He played and started in the first three games of the season averaging a team-leading 11.7 points and 4.7 rebounds per game. Last year, Wiedeman missed one game of the season due to an ankle sprain versus Western Carolina on Feb. 19, 2012.
THREE FOR THE ROAD
CofC will play its next three contests on the road to close out the month of November. Not only will the Cougars face Baylor, they will travel to 2012 Big South Conference runner-up Charleston Southern for an intercity rivalry rematch on Nov. 28 at the Buc Dome, the smallest arena in NCAA Division I, in North Charleston, S.C., and Elon for their Southern Conference opener on Dec. 1 in Elon, N.C. Last season, CofC posted a 3-1 record on the road in non-conference play.
• Coach Wojcik is 3-7 all-time versus Big 12 schools (under the new realignment) in his eight years as a Division I head coach, but 6-8 overall when counting former member schools in Colorado (2-0), Texas A&M (1-0) and Nebraska (0-1).
• Wojcik's biggest win against a Big 12 opponent was an 86-65 victory over Oklahoma State while the head coach at Tulsa in 2009-10. Wojcik is 1-3 versus OSU, 0-4 versus Oklahoma and 2-0 versus TCU.
• Baylor boasts one player on its 14-man roster from the Tar Heel State, while CofC has six including four from the Charlotte area. Junior transfer Anthony Thomas (Winston Salem, N.C.) played high school basketball against Baylor sophomore guard Deuce Bello (Greensboro, N.C.) in the state's private school league. Thomas starred at Quality Education Academy, while Bello at Westchester Country Day School.
BOSTON COLLEGE RECAP
CofC 71, Boston College 67
• For the first time this season, the Cougars went with the starting five of sophomore Anthony Stitt, senior Andrew Lawrence, junior Anthony Thomas, junior Willis Hall and sophomore Adjehi Baru. It marked Hall's 45th career start and first since the 2010-11 season.
• With the victory, CofC takes a 1-0 lead in the all-time series with Boston College. The Cougars also claimed their eighth all-time win over an ACC opponent and second on their home court in two years after upsetting then No. 9-ranked North Carolina in 2010 at TD Arena.
• CofC has now played three BCS conference schools in a row for the third time in program history next to 1996-97 and 1993-94.
• After missing the Auburn game with a stomach virus, Andrew Lawrence returned to the starting lineup and registered his third career 20-point game with a game-high 22 points in 20 minutes of play.
• Willis Hall had a near double-double with a game-high 11 rebounds and eight points. He has now brought down double-digit boards for the fourth time of his career.
• For the fourth consecutive contest, the Cougars outrebounded their opponent, 35-31 (+4)
• Freshman Theo Johnson tied his career-high with three blocked shots versus Auburn.
• CofC made a season-low 12 turnovers including only five in the first half.
COUGAR SOUND BITES
"One, you just want to avoid the injury bug. That's what's tough about playing three games in four days for any team. Being a bigger, stronger, faster and physical team helps you avoid that. We've had that (injury bug) happen to us already. We played two of the three tournament games without one of our best players in the game. Overall, it (playing a tough schedule) does matter, as you try to build your program. We are trying to build it to where you can get an at-large bid to the NIT or someday an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament. You have to play these type of games. Butler dissected North Carolina the other night and Wichita State goes into VCU and gets a win last week. You have to have those kind of wins, because those wins come back to you later in the year as far as your RPI goes. They (Baylor) are very good. Cory Jefferson reminds me of Horace Grant and they are very talented. It's good for us to go on the road as a team finally, because we have spent the first two weeks at home. It's a good game for us for many reasons." - CofC Head Coach Doug Wojcik on the team's tough four-game stretch against BCS schools including Saturday's matchup at Baylor and how that type of early schedule gets the team ready for an entire season
"It's really good for us, especially when you are going up against some really tough teams like we have. Teams are going to challenge you and make you find out who you really are - early in the season. It helps you get a lot better along the way and quicker. It will be very beneficial for us later on in the season. We are still getting used to the new system under Coach Wojcik and have been defending well. As we get better at that and we get more stops, our transition will come natural and you will see a faster-paced team." - CofC Redshirt Junior Forward Willis Hall on playing four-straight BCS schools and how the team is gelling under the new coaching staff and system
"We have been pretty unfortunate with injuries here. It seems like every year, something different happens. In my case last year, it was the same injury that happened to (former CofC player) Antwaine (Wiggins) the year before. Everyone is ready for this weekend's game. It has happened before and we know what has to take place. You won't see anything too different in our preparation and everyone will step-up to the plate." - Hall on the injury bug affecting the Cougars every season and being used to playing top 25, major-conference opponents every year
"My mindset going into every game is to play defense and bring energy onto the court. I'm not really asked to score since we have players like Anthony (Stitt), Andrew (Lawrence), AT (Thomas) and Adjehi (Baru) to do those kind of things. I'm here to play defense. I don't go into every game expecting to play a whole bunch of minutes, because I'm a freshman. But, I'm going to do whatever I can to get those minutes, by earning my minutes in practice. Baylor is really tall, athletic and long. It's pretty big-time to play them. We are getting national exposure playing these BCS teams. I'm expecting to play these type of teams every year, because it is exciting and fun. We are ready to play them and it will be a hard-fought game. We just have to play defense, rebound and make shots." - Freshman Guard/Forward Theo Johnson on seeing increased minutes in the ESPN Charleston Classic tournament games and playing BCS opponents in the team's current stretch