No. 7 Baylor poses big problem for Northwestern

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Northwestern center Luka Mirkovic (12) celebrates after scoring during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Georgia Tech Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2011 in Atlanta. Northwestern won 76-60. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

It’s no secret that No. 7 Baylor has some big men. The Bears have 6-11 center Perry Jones III, 6-9 forward Quincy Miller and 6-7 forward Quincy Acy.

But Northwestern’s big man, center Luka Mirkovic, doesn’t know them by name, just by reputation. He’ll get to know them better when the Wildcats (7-0) take on Baylor (6-0) in a highly anticipated nonconference game Sunday at Welsh-Ryan Arena.

Mirkovic might be a rarity among college basketball players, preferring to watch mixed martial arts instead of basketball during his free time.

“I don’t really watch college basketball, so I really don’t know what their big guys are like,” Mirkovic said. “I don’t think its going to be that much different than what I go up against in the Big Ten.

“Basketball is boring to me when I watch it. But when you play it, it’s different.”

Mirkovic is healthy after suffering from a strep infection that hampered his play in the Charleston Classic last month and against Stony Brook on Nov. 25. He broke out with a 13-point performance in the Wildcats’ 76-60 victory Tuesday at Georgia Tech. He also went 5-for-5 from the field and scored 11 points in the 92-67 victory Friday over Mississippi Valley State.

“I was just trying to run hard and put pressure on all the guys who were guarding me,” Mirkovic said of his performance against Georgia Tech. “I think a huge thing for us is, if we have equal rebounds with the other team, I think we have a great chance. But if we’re down by 10 [rebounds], we are not doing something right.”

They’ll need to do a lot right against Baylor, whose appearance on the road this early in the season is an uncommon occurence. The Bears haven’t had a nonconference road game in almost two years.

Jones returned from a suspension Nov. 29 in the Bears’ 90-54 victory over Prairie View A&M, scoring a game-high 27 points. The sophomore was suspended for six games by the NCAA for receiving improper benefits while he was still in high school. He started serving the suspension last season during the Big 12 tournament.

Miller sat out Baylor’s last game as a precaution with an ankle injury. He is expected to play Sunday.

Wildcats guard JerShon Cobb, who has missed the last two games with a concussion, is questionable. Cobb suffered the concussion in the Wildcats’ 63-58 victory over Stony Brook.

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