Get to know the 2018-19 Baylor basketball teams
This Tuesday night, the Baylor Bears and Lady Bears will tip off their 2018-19 seasons in an opening night doubleheader at the Ferrell Center, giving Baylor fans their first meaningful look at two teams looking to build on a long string of conference and postseason successes. For the eight-time defending Big 12 champion Lady Bears, some familiar faces will anchor the push for nine in a row; for the Bears, a cast of newcomers will strive to reach the postseason for a program record eighth consecutive season.
LADY BEARS: A new season begins for head coach Kim Mulkey and the Lady Bears with a familiar mix of accolades and lofty goals. Ranked No. 4 in the nation to start the year, Baylor is once again the pre-season favorite to win the Big 12, ahead of challengers Texas and West Virginia.
The Lady Bears will be led once again by their award-winning duo of senior Kalani Brown and junior Lauren Cox. Brown, the reigning Big 12 Player of the Year and a two-time all-American, was picked to repeat as the top player in the conference this year and to win all-America honors for the third straight year. Cox, the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year a season ago, was also picked to repeat that honor. They and the other returning Lady Bears will be joined by the No. 1 recruiting class in the nation; freshman forward NaLyssa Smith was named the Big 12’s preseason Co-Freshman of the Year.
To prepare for another Big 12 title push, they’ll be challenged by a rigorous non-conference schedule featuring games against Arizona State, Stanford, South Carolina and UConn (a home game on Jan. 3).
BEARS: Baylor men’s basketball head coach Scott Drew will work with an intriguing mix of newcomers in the season ahead. After reaching the NIT last season, the Bears graduated their top four scorers, opening the door for freshmen and transfers to play a pivotal role in 2018-19.
The squad’s top returning scorer is sharpshooting senior King McClure, who averaged just over 8 points per game as a junior. He’ll be joined by sophomores Mark Vital and Tristan Clark as returnees who played significant minutes last year; point guard Jake Lindsey will sit out the year after hip surgery. Baylor fans will look for significant contributions from grad transfer Makai Mason (yes, ironically, the same Makai Mason who dropped a career high 31 points for Yale in the Bulldogs’ upset win over the Bears in the 2016 NCAA Tournament), sophomore Mario Kegler (a forward who redshirted at Baylor last year after averaging nearly 10 points per game at Mississippi State), and highly-touted freshmen like Jared Butler and Matthew Mayer. [Get to know the Bears’ newcomers in this series of videos.]
A challenging non-conference schedule features road contests against Mississippi, Wichita State and Arizona, and a home game against Oregon Dec. 21 before Big 12 play begins.
The opening night doubleheader features the Lady Bears and Nicholls State this Tuesday night at 6 p.m., followed by the Bears and Texas Southern at 8:30 p.m. Tickets are available here.
Sic ’em, Baylor Basketball!