By Shehan Jeyarajah
Baylor played Colorado last season in the Charleston Classic non-conference tournament on Nov. 16, 2012. The Bears would lose that game after Colorado shot 44.6 percent from the field and 40 percent from the free throw line. The Bears shot under 40 percent from the field in that game and under 20 percent from the three-point line.
Baylor played stifling defense, holding the Buffaloes to only 33.3 percent from the field for the game and 10.5 percent from the three-point line en route to a dominant 72-60 win over the former Big 12 opponent on Friday night in Dallas.
Things got off a slow start for both teams. The game was scoreless for both teams until the 17:23 mark of the first half when Isaiah Austin clanged in one out of two free throws to give Baylor a 1-0 lead. Colorado didn’t get on the board until the 16:43 mark.
Freshman wing Ish Wainright struggled early in the game. In the first two and a half minutes of his college career, Wainright had a turnover, a jump ball that turned over and two fouls before being replaced by University of Denver transfer Royce O’Neale.
Both teams would continue to struggle from the field. Through the 11:48 point of the first half, both teams were combined to shoot 4-23 from the field and 0-8 from three. Neither reached double-digits until the 10:08 mark of the first half when senior guard Gary Franklin made a three to push Baylor up 10-6.
In the second half of the first half, Colorado went on a furious run behind sophomore big man Josh Scott. Scott had six points in 10 minutes behind nine offensive rebounds by Colorado in the second half of the first half. In the last four minutes alone, Colorado had six free throw attempts created by second chance opportunities.
The Bears were sloppy throughout the entire first half of the game. In the half, they finished with nine turnovers compared to Colorado’s six. They cleaned things up in the second half when they limited themselves to four. Despite the troubles, Baylor led 30-21 at the end of the first half.
In the second half, offenses opened up, especially when Baylor’s bigs went down with foul trouble. At the half, junior guard Spencer Dinwiddie had only two points despite being Colorado’s best player. He scored eight more in the second half.
Baylor countered offense with more offense. The Bear would shoot 50 percent in the second half, including 55.6 percent from the three point line as a team. Compared to 30 points in the first half, Baylor finished with 42 in the second half.
Colorado went on a run to cut the lead to 64-58 after a Cory Jefferson muffed dunk led to a putback basket by Josh Scott on the other side. After another bad possession, Baylor would run out the clock. After a missed Askia Booker jumper for Colorado with 1:24 left, Baylor tried to run the entire shot clock down.
With less than five second on the clock, Jefferson was able to find sophomore center Isaiah Austin for a turnaround jumper with 50.4 seconds left in the game. With the lead extended to 66-58, Austin’s play effectively ended Colorado’s chances.
After missing his first three shot attempts, Chery led Baylor in his first ever start at the Division I level. In the win, Chery finished with 14 points, four rebounds and four assists in 35 minutes.
“You have to prepare in practice,” Chery said. “Just getting repetition, getting minutes with the guys. We came in tonight and played hard as a team and were luckily able to get the win.”
Sophomore forward Taurean Prince was dynamic in spot minutes off the bench. In only 18 minutes because of foul trouble, Prince finished with 10 points and eight rebounds on 50 percent shooting from the field.
“My attitude was to just do whatever would help the team,” Prince said. “My role is to bring energy to this team, whether it’s rebounding, swinging it to Kenny to dish it off to Isaiah or Cory, that’s my role. If I’m asked to score it, then I will.”
Junior forward Cory Jefferson posted a double-double with 13 points and 11 rebounds. Senior guards Brady Heslip and Gary Franklin powered Baylor with seven combined three-pointers on 58.3 percent from long range. Nine different players played ten minutes or more behind the foul trouble.
Sophomore forward Josh Scott dominated the interior for Colorado. He finished with 15 points and 11 rebounds, including five offensive rebounds. Scott went to the free throw line eight times, second most in the game. NBA prospect Spencer Dinwiddie was contained to only 10 points on 2-12 shooting from the floor.
With a few new rule changes being implemented in college basketball, fouls dictated the game for both teams. The two teams finished with a combined 44 fouls and 45 free throw attempts in the 40 minute basketball game. Prince fouled out for Baylor and sophomore forward Xavier Johnson fouled out for Colorado. Rico Gathers, Jefferson, Wainright and Isaiah Austin were all limited by three or more fouls.
With the win, Baylor moves to 1-0 on the season. The Bears will make their home debut against South Carolina at 2 p.m. on Tuesday at the Ferrell Center. The game will be broadcast live on ESPN.