Duke Blue Devils vs. Baylor Bears Pick & Prediction DECEMBER 20th 2023

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No. 10 Baylor will look to get back on the winning track when it squares off against No. 21 Duke on Wednesday at Madison Square Garden in New York.

The Bears (9-1) will play their second consecutive game against a big-name opponent on a neutral floor. The first was a surprising 88-64 loss to under-.500 Michigan State in Detroit on Saturday, the result being Baylor’s first setback of the season.

RayJ Dennis and Yves Missi scored 11 points apiece for the Bears, but that was nowhere near the effort needed to overcome a horrendous start. Baylor trailed by 30 points just before halftime and was down 45-17 at the break, the low mark for points scored in a half by the Bears this season.

Baylor shot just 7 of 22 (31.8 percent) from the floor and committed 11 turnovers in the opening 20 minutes.

“I wish we could have turned the lights off and started over, because we really got knocked in the mouth,” Bears coach Scott Drew said. “I thought we practiced enough, but obviously we weren’t prepared enough for Michigan State.

“The first half, anything that could go wrong did for us. Anything that could go right for them did, and they made a lot of that happen.”

The Bears played much better in the second half when they outscored Michigan State 47-43 and shot 61.5 percent on field-goal attempts.

The upset — and how it occurred — was enough to drop the Bears from sixth to 10th in this week’s AP poll.

Drew said he expects the same level of competition, if not even more, when Baylor travels to the Big Apple.

“As coaches, we’ve got to watch this film and see how we can put our guys in better position to be successful against another really good team,” Drew said. “This is the stuff that gets you ready for conference.”

The Blue Devils (7-3) head back to the court after a seven-day layoff. Their last action was an 89-68 home win over Hofstra on Dec. 12. Kyle Filipowski amassed 28 points, 12 rebounds and a career-high eight assists for Duke, which won its second straight after consecutive road losses at Arkansas and Georgia Tech.

“We just want to take a step forward, and of course you want that to translate to winning,” Duke coach Jon Scheyer said. “For me, it is not just about winning, it is about how we played, it is about how we competed and about how we prepare.

“I told our team that the blueprint is set after these last two games. You have to continue to adjust and adapt to who you’re playing and what the game plan is.”

Jeremy Roach added 19 points, Mark Mitchell scored 14 points and Jared McCain logged 13 for the Blue Devils, who pulled away in the second half after leading by just five at intermission.

Roach said the Blue Devils are looking forward to the dustup against Baylor.

“Duke loves playing at MSG — that’s been a staple throughout the history of Duke,” Roach said. “We’ve just got to go out there and put on a show. Every time we’re at MSG, we kind of see the whole place filled up with that Duke blue, so the energy’s always there. Madison Square Garden — it’s going to be something special.”

The teams have met only once, a 78-71 win for the Blue Devils in the 2010 NCAA Tournament South Region final in Houston.

–Field Level Media

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