By Daniel Wallace
At 7 p.m. on Tuesday in the Ferrell Center, the wait was over.
The Bears were on the court for the first time since March when their season ended against Oklahoma in the first round of the Big 12 Championship. After a tip-off where both players missed the ball, sophomore forward Perry Jones III won the second tip-off to officially begin the Bears’ 2011-12 season.
In an 81-54 victory, the No. 12 ranked Bears used a dominant second half to surge past the Abilene Christian University Wildcats in their first and only exhibition game of the season.
Junior guard Pierre Jackson led all scorers with 16 points in the game. Jackson proved to be a threat on defense as well as he had three steals in the first half alone. He also recorded an assist to senior forward Quincy Acy, who dunked it in to give Baylor the 13-9 lead midway through the first half. Jackson finished with four steals, five rebounds and six assists.
“He brought a lot of energy on both ends of the floor,” Jones said. “Just being able to D up and that’s what we need from a point guard able to play defense. Pressuring full court and being able to execute on offense and find the open man.”
Baylor led by as many as 14 in the first half after a 10-0 run with 5:19 remaining, but went into the locker room at halftime with just a 35-29 lead.
“They came out a lot more aggressive than we did,” Acy said. “We got it together and came out with our heads on.”
The second half was a different story for the Bears, who played more calmly and with greater motivation.
“A lot of guys stepped up in the second half. We didn’t like the score at halftime,” Jones said. “We talked in the locker room before Coach [Scott] Drew got in there and said we needed to pick it up and rebound, and play defense.”
The team came out of the locker room and raced off a 17-4 run to open the second half. The team scored 27 points in the first 12 minutes of the second half, after scoring only 35 in the first 20 minutes of play.
Defensively, the Bears held the Wildcats to a field goal percentage of just 31.8 percent. They also had nine blocks and 13 steals, as the defense overpowerd the Wildcat offense throughout the game.
Despite the obvious improvements needed, head coach Scott Drew was proud of the effort and energy his team brought to the hardwood.
“You’re real nervous,” Drew said. “You’re real excited. That’s why you play these games. The good news is that now we can build off it and show people some areas we got to get better at.”
The Bears were down 5-2 five minutes into the game, but out of a timeout sophomore guard Brady Heslip tied the game with a 3-pointer, the first points of his Baylor career. Heslip finished the game going 3-for-7 from the 3-point line and added four free throws.
The first half saw electric dunks from Acy and freshman guard Deuce Bello that got the fans in the Ferrell Center rowdy. ACU outrebounded the Bears 41-37.
The Bears will be in action again when they open the regular season at 9 p.m., Nov. 11, at the Ferrell Center against Texas Southern.