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Butler heads to Waco for tough test against Baylor

Undefeated Bulldogs face toughest challenge yet

NCAA Basketball: Florida at Butler Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports

THE FACTS

Time and Date: Tuesday, December 10 @ 9:00 pm ET

Records: Butler (9-0) | Baylor (7-1)

Rankings: Butler (#13 KenPom) | Baylor (#11 KenPom)

TV Channel: ESPN2

Watch Online: watchESPN


GAME PREVIEW

All eyes interested in college hoops will be on Waco Tuesday night, where the undefeated Butler Bulldogs face the Baylor Bears in a match-up of top-15 KenPom teams. Both come into Tuesday’s match-up with momentum; Butler blew out Florida on Saturday while Baylor handed Arizona its first loss of the season. This promises to be a thriller and yet another opportunity for the Bulldogs to evaluate where they rank among college basketball’s elite.

Baylor is led by star sophomore guard Jared Butler, who is averaging 18.6 points per game and scorching the nets from long range, shooting 47.4% from three. The Bears rely heavily on guard play as five of their six highest scorers are guards. Tuesday night’s game will be a strength vs. strength battle as Butler boasts one of the best perimeter defenses in the nation. The Bulldogs have subdued many talented guards already this season, but Jared Butler and MaCio Teague pose a unique challenge.

LaVall Jordan’s team also can’t overlook Baylor forward Freddie Gillespie who was a force to be reckoned with against Arizona, scoring 17, pulling down 13 boards, and recording five blocks. Jordan indicated that 7-footer Derrik Smits will be dressed for the game and may see his first action of the season, which would present an interesting dynamic for both Baylor and Butler.

Ultimately, this game may be decided by pace. Butler has proved to be a nightmare on both ends in the halfcourt, and Baylor likes to get out and score in transition. If the Bears can force turnovers, accelerate the pace of play, and hurry Butler, they will likely prevail. If the Bulldogs can muddy the game up like they tend to do, slow down Jared Butler, and work the ball around on offense like they did against Florida, they could pick up another huge win on the road.

Butler is starting to get some national acclaim, having moved up to #18 in the AP poll. Winning at Baylor would propel the Bulldogs squarely into the national discussion.