WACO, Texas — The Baylor Bears experienced a rough week.
After traveling to Ohio and losing for the first time this season against No. 21 Xavier, No. 16 Baylor returned home on the weekend only to see its streak of 46 straight nonconference home wins snapped by No. 8 Wichita State.
Losing a pair of nonconference games against accomplished, highly rated foes wouldn’t be too bad by itself. However, an already thin Bears team got thinner when forward Terry Maston sustained a broken hand in the loss at Xavier.
Maston, who is averaging 11.7 points and 7.7 rebounds, is expected to be out of action until January. He led Baylor in scoring with 15 points against the Musketeers despite playing just 22 minutes.
Baylor (5-2) was already limited to an eight-man rotation with Maston coming off the bench. The Bears then basically used seven players in a 69-62 loss to Wichita State on Saturday. Guard Tyson Jolly, who missed the first six games of the season with an undisclosed medical issue, made his season debut vs. the Shockers but played just three minutes.
Now Sam Houston State comes into the Ferrell Center to challenge the Bears. The Bearkats (5-3) are no doubt aware that Baylor is struggling to find its identity in a rocky season so far.
The Bears averaged 78 points in winning their first five games of this season, including victories over Wisconsin and Creighton on a neutral floor. But Baylor scored just 63 and 62 in its losses last week.
Even so, Baylor used its defense to give itself a chance against Wichita State. The Bears tied it at 62 when guard Jake Lindsey finished a three-point play with 3:10 left.
“Wichita State is an unbelievable, physical rebounding team and I thought we held our own there,” Baylor coach Scott Drew said. “That was great to see. This is a game that gets us better. We’ll have a short turnaround and hopefully we can get back to winning ways because nobody likes losing.”
While Baylor has been struggling against high-level competition, Sam Houston State has found some momentum vs. a mixed bag of opponents.
The Bearkats lost their first two games at the Great Alaska Shootout against Central Michigan and College of Charleston but then defeated Santa Clara to finish the tournament on a high note.
Sam Houston State returned to Huntsville, Texas, to defeat a couple of lower-division foes in Schreiner and St. Thomas (Texas).
The Bearkats played five games in nine days before getting the weekend off to prepare for Baylor.
“We haven’t had practice in a long time, especially being on the road like that,” Sam Houston State coach Jason Hooten said after the win over St. Thomas. “We need to work on some things offensively and get in a groove.”
Baylor defeated Sam Houston State by 34 points last season. That victory came at a time when the Bears were churning through wins against the who’s-who of college basketball. Baylor defeated Michigan State, Louisville, Sam Houston State and Xavier all within a 10-day period.