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Friday’s Pregame Shootaround: No. 9 Baylor, VCU in action

Jan 3, 2014, 3:37 PM EDT

tyndall AP

GAME OF THE NIGHT: Drexel at Southern Miss, 8:00 p.m.

This one should be a quality contest, with the Dragons and Golden Eagles both expected to be contenders in their respective conferences. Bruiser Flint’s team may be without Damion Lee (torn ACL) but he’s still got Chris Fouch and Frantz Massenat, and Tavon Allen’s proven to be a capable third scorer.

As for Donnie Tyndall’s Southern Miss squad, they’ve won three straight after losing at Western Kentucky. Balance is the key for the Golden Eagles, with Neil Watson (12.1 ppg) being one of five players averaging between nine and 12.1 points per game. The key for Drexel: taking care of the basketball. Southern Miss may be averaging 14.0 turnovers per game but they’re forcing nearly 18.

THIS ONE’S GOOD TOO: Stony Brook at VCU, 9:00 p.m.

Speaking of turnovers, that will also be key for Steve Pikiell’s Seawolves as they visit VCU. VCU’s forcing 20.4 turnovers per game, and when playing the Rams the type of turnover is as important as the quantity. Dead-ball turnovers can be managed; it’s the live-ball turnovers that all VCU to get out in the open floor and in many cases bury the opposition. This game will also feature a really good individual matchup in Stony Brook’s Jameel Warney and VCU’s Juvonte Reddic, with the sophomore Warney being one of the early favorites (if not the favorite) to win America East Player of the Year honors.

FIVE THINGS TO KNOW:

1) No. 9 Baylor plays its final non-conference game, hosting Savannah State in Waco. With the Tigers being 2-11 this should be an easy game for the Bears. Scott Drew’s team needs to drop the hammer early.

2) 11-2 George Washington hosts Georgia in a game the Colonials should win. Mike Lonergan’s team has surprised people, with Indiana transfer Maurice Creek (16.1 ppg) leading four players scoring in double figures.

3) South Carolina hosts South Carolina State in a game the Gamecocks will be expected to win, and a stat to watch will be the turnover count. South Carolina State’s averaging 15 per game, and if Frank Martin’s team can apply pressure they may be able to produce some scoring opportunities as a result.

4) Omaha’s trip to Hawaii has the potential to be intriguing as well, with both teams having won ten games. The Mavericks’ chances of winning will depend on whether or not they can slow down Isaac Fotu and Christian Standhardinger inside.

5) Central Connecticut State’s struggled defensively, as opponents are scoring an average of 77.1 points per game and shooting 46.7% from the field. The Blue Devils visit Coastal Carolina, which has three talented guards (Josh Cameron, Warren Gillis and Elijah Wilson) capable of giving them fits.