Baylor Bears vs. John Brown Golden Eagles Pick & Prediction NOVEMBER 9th 2023

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No. 20 Baylor and freshman guard Ja’Kobe Walter return home to face NAIA program John Brown University on Thursday morning in Waco, Texas.

The early tipoff (11 a.m. CT) marks the Bears’ final home opener at the Ferrell Center. The Baylor basketball teams will move into the new Foster Pavilion for this year’s Big 12 Conference campaign.

Baylor (1-0) is in a rebuilding mode but showed plenty of moxie and grit in an 88-82 season-opening win over Auburn on Tuesday in Sioux Falls, S.D. The contest was the collegiate debut of Walter, and he did little to disappoint. He scored a game-high 28 points to establish a program record for points by a freshman in his first game.

Walter made all 10 of his shots from the free-throw line, 7 of 13 attempts from the floor, and 4 of 7 from 3-point range.

“I leaned on my teammates,” Walter said. “They just encouraged me, and the coaching staff, they just encouraged me to keep going.”

Baylor trailed by nine points at the half but kept coming, eventually tying the game at 77 with 3:02 to play. A dunk, followed by a blocked shot and a pair of free throws by freshman Yves Missi, gave the Bears more than enough to get to the finish line.

The Bears had five different players hit double-digit scoring in the season opener, three of whom made their first appearance for the team.

“This is a win that helps you come March,” Baylor coach Scott Drew said. “It’s a great first game because you get exposed quick — a lot of the heart we had, maybe our culture of joy. Not everybody played their best game, but they all stuck together and found a way.

“We know what they’re capable of. Now the challenge is just blending everybody and getting them to get better because it’s a race to the end of the season. It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish.”

John Brown, which plays in the Sooner Athletic Conference, heads to Waco on the heels of an 81-74 victory at home over Central Baptist on Saturday. The Golden Eagles (2-0) fought back from an 11-point deficit at halftime.

Drew Miller led John Brown with 18 points, Malachi Reeves hit for 16 and Tyren Collins rounded out the double-digit scoring efforts with 13.

Eight members of the Golden Eagles’ 15-man roster are newcomers. Those fresh faces, blended with a handful of key returnees from last year’s team, have coach Jason Beschta optimistic for success.

“There’s such a difference in this group,” Beschta said his team’s attitude and work ethic. “They want to be pushed. They want to be coached. They want to push each other, and they have fun doing it.”

Thursday’s game with Baylor will be considered an exhibition for John Brown.

–Field Level Media

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