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By Greg DeVries
A 103-75 win for the No. 18 Baylor basketball team over the Abilene Christian Wildcats showed the high ceiling for the Bears.
“When you’re in practice and you go against the same guys every day, you tend to pick up their tendencies,” freshman center Isaiah Austin said. “It’s always good to get out there and find out ways to play defense other than against your teammates.”
The starting five for the Bears consisted of Austin, junior guard Brady Heslip, senior guard Pierre Jackson, junior forward Cory Jefferson and senior guard A.J. Walton.
Baylor started to pull away shortly after the 10-minute mark in the first half.
“We started clicking a little better [after 10 minutes],” Austin said. “We started talking more. We were playing with our hands down a little bit. We have to work on our close-outs, but other than that, I think we played pretty well.”
Defensively, the Bears started to apply more pressure.
This led to fewer open looks and more turnovers for ACU.
“Guys set some great screens and made some good passes, and those were wide-open shots,” Heslip said. “[That’s] something I practice every day.”
Jackson added 14 points of his own and to go along with eight assists.
Freshman forward Rico Gathers finished with nine points and 10 rebounds, seven of them offensive, in just 14 minutes.
He used his imposing frame to be most dominant in the paint, and the Wildcats couldn’t stop him.
They could only hope to contain him, and they didn’t.
“Before the game, Coach just told me to make sure I attacked on the offensive end on the boards, so that’s what I did,” Gathers said.
Defensively, the Bears played man-to-man. Last year, they usually stuck to a zone, so the new defense was something that head coach Scott Drew was keeping an eye on.
“There were some good teaching points, and we’ll use them and improve in some areas,” Drew said. “Defensively, giving up 75 points is a lot to give up. We all know that.”
Turnovers were a problem for the Bears throughout the game. Baylor turned the ball over 10 times in the first half and gave the ball away nine more times in the second.
“Twenty-five assists is really good. The 19 turnovers, not so good,” Drew said. “When you’re playing three guards you need to be closer to that two-to-one assist-to-turnover ratio.”
The Bears will tip off their regular season on Nov. 9 against Lehigh.