By Chris Derrett
A calm, collected and unguarded Perry Jones III stood under the basket Tuesday night and subtly pointed to the sky. A half second later, sophomore A.J. Walton responded with an alley-oop pass that Jones III slammed home, punctuating a 25-point effort in Baylor’s 74-61 win over Oklahoma.
Before the final buzzer, Jones III threw down one more dunk and let out a scream that fans would never see from the soft-spoken freshman off the court.
“If it takes screaming to show that I’m aggressive, then I have to scream. I have to be a beast on the court like coach Drew told me. Don’t be that nice guy that I am off the court,” Jones III said.
Senior LaceDarius Dunn tallied 16 points including four 3-pointers, and junior Quincy Acy added 15 points as the Bears won despite surrendering 27 points off 17 turnovers.
At first it looked like Jones III might suffer from his unselfish attitude on the court. After winning the opening tip, Jones III passed up an open lane to the basket and instead tried to make an extra pass, which the Sooners snatched away.
Coach Scott Drew and Jones III’s teammates would not again let such potential go to waste.
“That’s exactly what he does too often. To his credit, Perry’s a quick learner,” Drew said.
From that point it was smooth sailing for the potential NBA draft. Jones III’s first basket of the game, a fastbreak dunk, put Baylor ahead 18-9 and was followed with a Fred Ellis drive to the bucket that forced a Sooner timeout.
Jones III finished the first 20 minutes 5 of 7 from the field with 12 points, doubling the next highest scoring Bears.
The Bears looked to stretch their 33-23 lead before halftime, but instead the young squad received a hard lesson in ball security. Two Baylor turnovers were part of a 9-0 Oklahoma run before the end of the half.
“Young teams learn through experience. We had a couple of opportunities in the first half to really stretch the lead and we didn’t,” Drew said.
The Sooners hung around and got as close as 49-46, but Jones III and the Bears’ inside game was too much. Jones III and Acy accounted for 19 of Baylor’s final 25 points.
Junior Anthony Jones also scored nine points with 4 of 6 shooting, and Walton chipped in five.
But the star of the night simply outshined everybody, enough so to earn praise from the opposing bench.
“It’s pretty impressive. As a fan of basketball, it was a pretty impressive play by a phenomenal young talent,” Oklahoma coach Jeff Capel said about the play that left the Ferrell Center crowd of 7,572 in awe.
With Baylor holding a 64-57 advantage, Jones III showed the 7,572 in attendance why he might play at the next level. He dribbled down the lane, wrapped the ball behind his back and sliced between defenders before nearly earning an and-1 opportunity.
Jones III hit both free throws, which proved to be the only effective method of keeping him from scoring in the paint.