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By Daniel Hill
The Baylor Bears lost to the Iowa State Cyclones 87-82 Wednesday at the Ferrell Center on a night where the Cyclones made 11 three-pointers to sink the Bears. Jackson led the Bears in scoring with 30.
“This is a tough loss for us,” Baylor head coach Scott Drew said. “Iowa State shot 54 percent from the field. That and our 55 percent from the free throw line was the difference in the game. 82 points is enough points to win, but the other team shoots 54 percent and scores 87. Defensively tonight, that was disappointing.”
The contest started out with senior point guard Pierre Jackson racking up 15 first-half points.
With both teams racing up and down the court, the pace was quick. The Bears struggled to find their man on defense, and the Cyclones made them pay with the barrage of 3-pointers.
Iowa State junior forward Melvin Ejim recorded a double-double with 20 points and 12 rebounds to lead the Cyclones to victory on Baylor’s home court.
Cyclone Senior guard Tyrus McGee played a valuable sixth-man role for Iowa State. McGee knocked down three-of-five 3-pointers and eight-of-11 field goals to lead the Cyclones in scoring with 22 points off the bench.
Things seemed to be going Baylor’s way when Pierre Jackson made an unexpected three pointer to give the Bears a 25-19 first half lead. Jackson was on a fast break and tossed the ball from just inside half court on an intended alley-oop slam dunk to junior power forward Cory Jefferson. The ball ended up going through the net for a 3-point shot.
The momentum changed when the Cyclones tied the game up at 25 with a 6-0 run. The game remained close as Iowa State and Baylor traded buckets to keep the game tied 31-31.
With a tie game, Iowa State then outscored Baylor 10-5 to take a 41-36 lead into half time.
Iowa State extended its lead, but Baylor rallied to go on a 7-0 run when junior forward Cory Jefferson slammed down a two-handed jam and made the free throw after he was fouled. Senior guard A.J. Walton hit a pair of free throws, and freshman center Isaiah Austin had a tip-in to pull the Bears within two points of the Cyclones, 43-45.
The Cyclones would not let Baylor claw all the way back. Clyburn hit two free throws to make it 47-43.
The game truly changed after Iowa State hit back-to-back three pointers from junior forward Melvin Ejim and Niang to take a commanding 58-50 lead.
The Bears got back within six points of Iowa State until the Cyclones all but ended the Bears’ chances by once again hitting consecutive shots from the arc to gain an 11 point advantage, 70-56, before ultimately winning 87-82.
Baylor kept fouling Iowa State near the end of the game with hopes of making a miraculous comeback.
“[Defense] starts with the guards,” Jackson said. “If we do a good job keeping them out of the paint then the other team can’t do a good job of getting to the boards. We’ve just got to do a better job getting offensive rebounds.”
Jefferson had a double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds. Aside from Jackson and Jefferson, no other Bear recorded double-digit points.
“It’s very tough,” Jefferson said. “This is a home loss and another loss on our record, but there’s nothing we can change about it anymore. The game is over. We just got to keep doing what we’ve been doing, going back to the gym and practicing on the things we’ve got to work on to prepare ourselves for the next game.”
Austin had a difficult time finding his rhythm in the game and had zero first-half points before scoring eight in the second half.
With the next two games on the road, 4 p.m. Saturday against Oklahoma and 7 p.m. Wednesday against West Virginia, the Bears are going to have to take care of business in enemy territory to shore up their resumé for the Big 12 Tournament and NCAA Tournament.