Cory Jefferson, Marcus Smart

Baylor power forward Cory Jefferson to return for senior season

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Creighton wasn’t the only basketball program to receive good news on Thursday.

Baylor power forward Cory Jefferson, who emerged as one of the most improved players in the Big 12 this past season, announced his decision to return to school for his senior season in a press conference Thursday afternoon.

Jefferson didn’t see much playing time during his first two seasons in Waco, playing just 4.6 minutes per game as a freshman and 10.5 minutes per game as a redshirt sophomore on a team that reached the Elite 8.

(CLICK HERE to follow along with who is turning pro and who is returning to school.)

But the mass exodus of big men following that run opened the door for Jefferson to earn more opportunities and he took advantage, averaging 13.3 points (61.0% FG), 8.0 rebounds and 1.9 blocked shots per game for a team that won the Postseason NIT.

With Baylor still waiting on an NBA Draft decision from 7-footer Isaiah Austin and having to account for the loss of veteran guards Pierre Jackson and A.J. Walton, Jefferson’s decision to return is welcome news to say the least.

With veterans such as Jefferson and Brady Heslip being joined by a freshman class that features wing Ishmail Wainright and center Dominic Woodson, Baylor’s chances of returning to the NCAA tournament may ultimately depend on what happens at point guard.

In addition to returnees Gary Franklin and L.J. Rose, head coach Scott Drew inked junior college transfer Kenny Chery to help account for the departure of one of the Big 12’s best point guards in Jackson. If one of those three can handle the responsibilities, Baylor should move back into the field of 68 in 2014.

Raphielle also writes for the NBE Basketball Report and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

WATCH LIVE: St. Bonaventure hosts Saint Louis on NBCSN

St. Bonaventure's Denzel Gregg celebrates after they defeated St. Joseph's after an NCAA college basketball game Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2016, in Philadelphia.  (Charles Fox/The Philadelphia Inquirer via AP) PHIX OUT; TV OUT; MAGS OUT; NEWARK OUT; MANDATORY CREDIT
(Charles Fox/The Philadelphia Inquirer via AP)
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St. Bonaventure is looking to keep pace with the Atlantic 10’s elite as they host Saint Louis on Sunday afternoon. You can watch this A-10 contest live on NBCSN at 2:00 p.m. EST.

Coming off of a huge road win at Saint Joseph’s, the Bonnies (14-6, 6-3) have won two consecutive games with a winnable stretch of two more before a key conference clash with George Washington. The trio of Marcus Posley (19.1 ppg), Jaylen Adams (18.5 ppg) and Dion Wright (16.2 ppg) has been putting up a ton of points this season and slowing down that group will be the focal point of the Saint Louis defense.

The Billikens (8-13, 3-6) are coming off of two consecutive double-digit losses and will try to regroup on the road. Senior guard Ash Yacoubou paces the Saint Louis offense at 12.2 points per game and junior guard Mike Crawford (10.9 ppg) is the only other player averaging double-figures.

These two teams will play again on March 5 when the Bonnies head to the Midwest.

CLICK HERE to watch these games on NBC Sports Live Extra Sunday afternoon.

PREGAME SHOOTAROUND: Some conference matchups play out before football

Oregon forward Dillon Brooks, left, reacts after scoring a basket against Utah during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Salt Lake City, Thursday, Jan. 14, 2016. Oregon defeated Utah 77-59. (AP Photo/George Frey)
(AP Photo/George Frey)
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GAME OF THE NIGHT: Utah at No. 16 Oregon, 4:00 p.m.

From Rob Dauster’s Weekend Preview:

Utah suffered one of the worst losses I’ve seen in a while on Thursday night, when Brandon Taylor, for some unknown reason, decided to foul an Oregon State player firing up a half court prayer at the buzzer. The Utes, who are arguably the second-best team in the Pac-12, will look to bounce-back on Sunday against the best team in the Pac-12, No. 16 Oregon at 4:00 p.m.

FIVE THINGS TO WATCH FOR:

1. No. 12 SMU will attempt to stay atop the American standings as they travel to South Florida. While the Mustangs won the first matchup between these two teams at home by 14, they’ve dropped their last two games on the road.

2. A few more American contests are going down as East Carolina travels to UConn and Houston heads to Tulsa. The game between the Cougars and Golden Hurricane is especially interesting because both teams are sitting two games back of SMU and trying to make a move on the postseason.

3. No. 5 Iowa continues the soft part of the schedule as they face Illinois on the road. The Hawkeyes posted recent easy victories over Northwestern and Penn State and will be heavily favored again on Sunday.

4. Could be an intriguing game as No. 17 Miami travels to Georgia Tech. Although the Yellow Jackets aren’t a major contender in the ACC, they’ve been tough this season, especially at home. The Hurricanes fell victim to Georgia Tech last season while they were ranked by Marcus Georges-Hunt has to get back on track after a recent slump for that to happen.

5. There is an Atlantic 10 game that will be featured on NBCSN on Sunday: Saint Louis at St. Bonaventure (2:00 p.m.).

CLICK HERE to watch these games on NBC Sports Live Extra Sunday afternoon.