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By Daniel Wallace
The site was the Ferrell Center and all eyes were on the player wearing No. 1 for the Bears Tuesday night.
After completing a six-game suspension handed down by the NCAA for pre-enrollment benefits, sophomore forward Perry Jones III made his season debut for the No. 7 ranked Bears (6-0), who cruised to a 90-54 victory over the Prairie View A&M Panthers (2-6).
“As far as tonight goes, it was great having Perry Jones back,” head coach Scott Drew said. “Definitely we know on the court what he provides the team but off the court, he’s such a great teammate. Everybody likes him so much and I think everybody was really happy to see him get out there and play again.”
One of the players who benefitted the most from the return of Jones was junior guard Pierre Jackson, who registered 17 points and eight assists for the Bears.
”Pierre is such a good passer,” Drew said. “He has had some nice passes this year where we just weren’t ready to get to the rim after the catch. The good thing is, Perry is such a great finisher. I think that showed tonight, how much Pierre is going to enjoy playing with him.”
Jones finished the game with 27 points and six rebounds in 31 minutes. His point total tied a career-high as he also dropped 27 on the Texas A&M Aggies in February. This was the seventh 20-plus point game for Jones; Baylor is 6-1 in those games.
“I was ready to play with my teammates once again,” Jones said. “It’s been a grind in practice everyday. It was just time to get back on the floor and work the chemistry we have had in practice and take it into the game.”
Jackson said the way Jones had been practicing added to his excitement about his teammate’s return.
“I think I was more excited for him to play than he was,” Jackson said. “I was looking forward to it. He’s been working in practice and he showed he’s ready to play.”
Despite having their star forward back in action on the court for the first time since March, the Bears got off to an atypical start for a 46-point win.
They were outscored 11-2 to start the game. The Panthers scored the first eight points of the game and were led by freshman guard Montrael Scott, who scored 11 of the first 13 points for Prairie View A&M. Scott finished with 14 points.
“We just had to tighten up our defense,” senior forward Quincy Acy said. “We were just lackadaisical in our zone. Coach talked to us and let us know we had to be more assertive and more cognitive of where the players are. They were getting open threes to one of their better shooters. Coach tied down on that and made us pay more attention to that.”
Acy had his second straight double-double and the 11th of his career with 13 points and 11 rebounds.
Freshman forward Quincy Miller did not play for the Bears on Tuesday night because of a tweaked ankle.
“That’s been the only tough part—we still haven’t had everybody,” Drew said. “We’d like to get everybody so we can figure out rotations and who is best with who. For continuity’s sake, you like to start to figure some of that stuff out. Hopefully we will get him back for this weekend.”
The Bears improved to 12-0 all-time against the Panthers on Tuesday night and the victory also marked the 10th time in the series they have scored 90 points or more.
Baylor will play its first non-conference road game in almost two years at 3 p.m. Sunday at Northwestern (6-0).