By Chris Derrett
LaceDarius Dunn scored 20 points, and three other Bears were in double figures as Baylor pounced on Prairie View A&M in a 90-45 win Monday night.
The game was Dunn’s second since the senior served a three-game suspension. The Bears saw his impact, both on and off the scoreboard.
“I’m in the groove, but not really,” Dunn said. “It feels good to be back out there with the guys.”
During Baylor’s 16-7 game-opening run, Dunn scored six points, snatched two rebounds, assisted twice and had two steals, one of which drew an intentional foul.
In addition to his well-documented offensive potential, Dunn says the hustle statistics are just as important.
“I’m focused on it. I think coach got me more focused on it,” Dunn said. “I just go out and do whatever I can for the team.”
Once again Baylor established its size advantage, rejecting eight Panther shots and outrebounding Prairie View 46-42 to win the rebounding battle in its fifth straight game.
“I’ve been to a couple NBA practices this year, and I haven’t even seen a team that big in the NBA,” Prairie View A&M head coach Byron Rimm II said.
Freshman Perry Jones III and junior Quincy Acy scored 16 and 13 respective points, and Jones snagged 13 rebounds to complete his second career double-double.
But far from a one-dimensional team, the Bears also knocked down six 3-pointers.
“I thought we had great looks from three. If you’re going to take away the inside and give us open looks on the outside, that’s a good thing,” coach Scott Drew said.
The Bears scored from everywhere early in the game. Sophomore Nolan Dennis’ trey, Baylor’s third of the game and part of Dennis’ 10 points, put the team ahead 24-7. Earlier Acy added points in the paint when he leaped and threw down a one-handed, fast break jam for a 12-5 lead. Dunn set up the dunk with a quick dish to Acy as they ran parallel down the lane.
“Lace always tells me to run with him. I ran with him, and he rewarded me. You can’t ask for more than that,” Acy said.
One play later junior Anthony Jones drew Prairie View’s second intentional foul, being blocked on a dunk and crashing to the ground.
The foul did not slow Jones for the Bears, who held the Panthers to 5 of 26 from the field in the first half and entered the locker room ahead 47-15.
“It was our best defensive effort of the season, and I thought that really set the tone for things,” Drew said.
The Bears also did not slow themselves with turnovers. With its captain on the floor, Baylor limited itself to five, a drastic improvement on the 22.5 averaged through its first four games.
Sophomore A.J. Walton ran the point guard position with nine points, six assists and just one turnover in 22 minutes
“He’s the starting point guard. That’s what we need from him all season,” Dunn said. “He’s the rock of the team, so we need him to be like that every game.”
Meanwhile foul trouble hurt the Panthers. It left them with more fouls than points from the 13:14 mark until Cortney Bell’s jumper at 9:29 gave his team its ninth point to match its nine fouls. Prairie View’s first half points would not surpass its fouls for good until Beloved Rogers hit a jumper at 7:05 that closed the margin to 33-13.
The second half became a highlight show for the 5,638 in attendance. Twice Walton stole the ball and took it to the rim for a one-handed slam. Near the end of the half, crowd favorite Dragan Sekelja checked into the game. The Croatian sophomore sunk two field goals, tying a career high.