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2014 NCAA Tournament: 5 Baylor Players Who Must Deliver During the Sweet 16

5 Baylor Players Who Must Deliver in the Sweet 16

Baylor Bears
Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

The roller coaster season the Baylor Bears have gone through has many surprised by their Sweet 16 appearance. Isaiah Austin as well as others simply weren’t performing at the level they needed to for Baylor to stay competitive. But when it mattered, they rose to the occasion and now have a chance to make the Elite Eight if a few key players step up.

5. Brady Heslip

Brady Heslip
Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

5. Brady Heslip

Brady Heslip
Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

Anybody who has seen Brady Heslip in action knows just why Baylor needs him to win. His shooting ability from beyond the arc is the reason the Bears have fought back into games and won many others. Heslip has to perform if Baylor wants to keep dancing.

4. Cory Jefferson

Cory Jefferson
Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

4. Cory Jefferson

Cory Jefferson
Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Despite his five-point performance against Iowa State in the Big 12 Championship, Cory Jefferson has been at a scoring peak, with at least 14 points in seven of their last eight games. Wisconsin will have no answer for Jefferson’s shooting touch or physicality in the paint.

3. Isaiah Austin

Isaiah Austin
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

3. Isaiah Austin

Isaiah Austin
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The role Isaiah Austin needs to fill against Wisconsin is more defensive than offensive. We all know he can score, inside and out. His 7-foot-1 length defensively will be key in holding Frank Kaminsky to a much smaller contribution than he had hoped.

2. Kenny Chery

Kenny Chery
Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

2. Kenny Chery

Kenny Chery
Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

If Baylor wants to win, Kenny Chery has to have the ball in his hands. He doesn’t get the recognition he probably deserves, but the Bears are very reliant on his scoring and facilitating abilities alike. Chery’s 4.8 assists per game will come as a nice asset in the Sweet 16.

1. Rico Gathers

Rico Gathers
Jim Cowsert-USA TODAY Sports

1. Rico Gathers

Rico Gathers
Jim Cowsert-USA TODAY Sports

Statistically, Rico Gathers won’t have a huge impact on the game. His unexpected strength in the paint will make the difference for Baylor, giving them an even bigger size advantage.

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NCAA Tournament Profile: Baylor Bears

Record: 24-9

RPI: 10

BPI: 19

Conference: Big 12 Conference

How They Qualified: At-Large Berth

Region: No. 3 seed in West

 

The Baylor Bears didn’t win the Big 12 title, but there was no question that they were an NCAA tournament team entering the Big 12 tourney. That tends to be the case when a team is ranked in the top 25 entering the final week of the season.

The Bears had the pleasure of playing in the dance last season, but they went down to the Wisconsin Badgers, who ended up making a run to the Final Four.

This time around, they have the talent to make a similar run to Wisconsin’s, and playing in the very deep Big 12 certainly didn’t hurt. Translation: Baylor is tournament tested, if you will.

 

What You Need to Know:

Leading Scorer: Taurean Prince (13.8 PPG)

Leading Rebounder: Rico Gathers (11.6 RPG)

Leading Passer: Kenny Chery (4.0 APG)

Bad Losses: None

Good Wins: Iowa State (twice), Oklahoma, Texas, West Virginia (x3)

 

Would you look at all of those quality wins. Iowa State, Oklahoma and West Virginia all have the talent to make a Final Four run. All three of those teams won’t make that type of run, but the talent is still definitely there.

Although Baylor doesn’t exactly have star power, said star power doesn’t always mean everything, especially in a tournament as crazy as the Big Dance. The team does have four players who are averaging 10+ points per game, and can keep up with the best of them. Once again, the Bears did manage to knock off Iowa State … twice.

The Baylor Bears are dancing!

Trevor Lowry is a Content Associate at RantSports.com. If you’re a tweeter feel free to follow him @TheTrevorLowry, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.

The Baylor Bears may have had an early exit last season, but this year's squad has the talent to make a serious run.

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