(Baylor Athletics Facebook)
(Baylor Athletics Facebook)
WACO – Head coach Scott Drew released the 2014-15 Baylor men’s basketball non-conference schedule Wednesday. BU is slated to play in the 2014 Continental Tire Las Vegas Invitational, and the Bears will play a pair of road games against SEC teams.

Eight non-conference home games were announced Wednesday, and a ninth is expected to be added after the Big 12 Conference schedule is released later this summer.

The Bears open the season with a home game against McNeese State on Nov. 14. BU then plays at South Carolina on Nov. 18 in the back end of a home-and-home series, which the Bears began with a 66-64 win in the Nov. 12 home opener last season.

Baylor hosts a pair of non-bracketed games in the Las Vegas Invitational, facing Prairie View A&M on Nov. 21 and Stephen F. Austin on Nov. 24. SFA went 32-3 last season and advanced to the third round of the NCAA Tournament.

The Bears then head to Vegas to face Memphis on Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 27, and either Illinois or Indiana State on Nov. 28. Memphis advanced to the NCAA Tournament third round and finished 24-10 a season ago. Both games will be played at Orleans Arena, and tickets are available through the Baylor Athletics Ticket Office.

After a return to Waco to face Texas Southern on Dec. 1, the Bears head to Nashville for a Dec. 4 game against Vanderbilt in the ESPN SEC/Big 12 Challenge. BU wraps up its non-conference schedule with four consecutive home games prior to Big 12 play, beginning with Texas A&M on Dec. 9.

Baylor welcomes New Mexico State on Dec. 17, then faces Southern on Dec. 22 and hosts Norfolk State on Dec. 30. NMSU went 26-10 and advanced to the NCAA Tournament last season.

Drew is entering his 12th season as BU head coach and is the program’s all-time wins leader with 204 victories. He’s the youngest of 11 coaches nationally to lead their current programs to three Sweet 16 appearances in the last five years.

BU returns two starters and three more players with starting experience from last season’s Sweet 16 team that finished 26-12. The Bears have a pair of seniors returning to the starting lineup with point guard Kenny Chery, who averaged 12 points and 5 assists per game in 2013-14, and small forward Royce O’Neale, who contributed 7 points, 5 rebounds and 3 assists per game last season.

Baylor also returns a trio of forwards who have starting experience and could join the regular starting lineup this season. Junior Rico Gathers averaged 18 minutes per game last season, junior Taurean Prince played 14 minutes per game and sophomore Ish Wainright made four starts during his freshman campaign. The Bears also expect to get significant contributions from Johnathan Motley and Allerik Freeman, who both redshirted last season.

Five newcomers have been added to the 2014-15 roster, including two junior college transfers and three prep standouts. Lester Medford and Deng Deng enrolled at BU from the JuCo ranks, while Kobe Eubanks, Terry Maston and Damiyne Durham joined the Bears out of high school.

Television assignments for non-conference games will be announced at a later date, and one more game will be added to the non-conference schedule that currently sits at 12 games.

In lieu of an exhibition game, Baylor will play a pair of closed scrimmages against Division I opponents, but those scrimmages cannot be publicized due to NCAA rules.

Season tickets will go on sale at a later date. For updates throughout the offseason, follow @BaylorMBB on twitter.