Kentucky vs. Baylor: Five things to watch

jclay@herald-leader.comMarch 24, 2012 

Long and strong

Kentucky and Baylor are two of the longest teams in college basketball. We all know about Anthony Davis' wingspan, and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Terrence Jones both possess impressive reaches. But Baylor also has admirable length, with 6-foot-11 Perry Jones III, 6-7 Quincy Acy, 6-9 Quincy Miller, 6-10 Anthony Jones and 6-9 Cory Jefferson. That's why UK Coach John Calipari said Sunday he would not be surprised to see the Bears play zone on Sunday, to take advantage of that length.

Perry Jones III

Baylor's sophomore star possesses so much raw ability he is considered a surefire NBA lottery pick. But the forward out of Duncanville, Texas, has been accused of not always giving his best effort. He scored 65 points in three games in the Big 12 Tournament, including 31 in a win over Kansas State, then scored just nine points in the first two games of the NCAA Tournament. When Jones is on, he's tough to stop. Will he be on his game Sunday?

The two seniors

Quincy Acy and Darius Miller are graybeards surrounded by young talent. Acy, a senior from Mesquite, Texas, is considered the heart and soul of the Bears. He averaged 11.5 points and seven rebounds and was named to the All-Big 12 defensive team. He had 20 points and 15 rebounds in Baylor's win over Xavier on Friday night. Miller, a 6-7 senior from Maysville, has scored 19 points in each of UK's last two NCAA Tournament games. He also loves the venue. He earned MVP honors at last year's SEC Tournament played in the Georgia Dome.

The point guard matchup

Baylor's Pierre Jackson and UK's Marquis Teague took dissimilar paths to their current destinations. Teague was a highly regarded point guard out of Indianapolis considered the nation's No. 1 prep guard a year ago. Jackson was a junior-college transfer from the College of Southern Idaho. But the two met back in August at the Adidas Nation Summit, where Jackson admitted he was in awe of the top talent. Despite his regal bloodline — brother, Jeff, is an NBA point guard — Teague is considered a "pit bull" by Calipari. Despite his backwoods background and 5-10 size, Jackson has a killer crossover move and the quickness to get to the rim.

Can Baylor play with elite?

The Bears lost one game all season to a team it should have beaten, that being a one-point loss at home to Kansas State on Feb. 18. They did lose to Iowa State, but that was in Ames, and the Cyclones did beat UConn in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, remember. But Scott Drew's team lost two of three meetings with Kansas. It lost three times to Missouri, the final time by 15 in the Big 12 Tournament championship game. Ken Pomeroy has the Bears at No. 17, the lowest-ranked team in the Elite Eight. Can Baylor raise its game and hang with the tournament's No. 1 overall seed?

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