W2W4: Baylor vs. South Dakota State

March, 14, 2012
3/14/12
9:38
PM CT


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- Here's a look at the evening action at New Mexico's famed Pit:

No. 3 Baylor (27-7) vs. No. 14 South Dakota State (27-7), 6:27 p.m. CT

There were games this season when Baylor looked like it could win the national title. And then there were times when the Bears had the look of an over-hyped team that was long on athleticism and short on patience and production.

But the Bears recaptured their early-season success by knocking off Kansas in the Big 12 semifinals before losing to Missouri.

"We've got a lot of that momentum from the tournament for the fact that we all trust each other," said Baylor's Perry Jones III. "We've all got confidence in each other and we're all looking for each other for support. We're being aggressive and playing together."

The Bears have the length to seriously fluster the Jackrabbits. If Jones III, Quincy Acy and Quincy Miller use their size and reach to their advantage, then the game should be over. But South Dakota State can shoot as well as any team in this bracket, and if the game is more up-tempo then it could negate the Bears' ability to control the post.

"Everyone has talked about their length, but quite honestly, it's the smallest guy who concerns me the most," said South Dakota State coach Scott Nagy of Baylor lead guard Pierre Jackson, who has arguably been the difference for this team. "I know having coached junior college players that it takes a little while for them to adjust. They're almost like freshmen and then by the end of the senior year, they're tremendous."

Nagy said the Jackrabbits will have to contain Jackson if they want a shot to win. He knows the length of Baylor's bigs is a concern -- as well as the potential for Jackson to dictate everything.

"My biggest concern is how are we going to stop them? When we do stop them, how are we going to rebound the basketball?" Nagy said. "And with these guys, it's going to be the best team we've ever played at South Dakota State. Let's just put it that way. We know it. In order to stay in the game, we'll have to play the game of our lives."

Baylor coach Scott Drew said that South Dakota State reminds him of Missouri with its ability to shoot the 3-pointer. Nate Wolters has some Bryce Drew in his game, too, according to Drew.

Baylor should win. The Bears have the athleticism, the quickness, the length, the talent. But the Jackrabbits do have the ability to negate that with the 3.

"It's had to be for us since we're not a huge team," Nagy said of the 3-pointer being a difference for the Jackrabbits. "When we do shoot the ball well it really opens up the floor for Nate."

Wolters will have to have a dominating performance to pull off this upset.

Three players to watch

Perry Jones III, 6-11, So., Baylor: Jones is more than capable of a 30-plus-point, 15-rebound performance. When he's focused and into the game, he can be as dominant a player as there is in the country.

Pierre Jackson, 5-10, Jr., Baylor: Jackson was the missing piece to ensuring the Bears were an NCAA team this season. He has been the most consistent player on the team, ensuring this group never lost its way for more than a few games. He is the ultimate playmaker for a fast-paced, long team like Baylor that can run the break and finish on dump-down passes in the lane.

Nate Wolters, 6-3, Jr., South Dakota State: Wolters averages 21.3 points and 5.2 rebounds a game. He has the ball in his hands quite a bit and that's a good thing for SDSU. He makes plays and isn't afraid to take any shot.

Andy Katz | email

Senior Writer, ESPN.com

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