By Chris Derrett
Editor in Chief
Fans knew what to expect at the Ferrell Center on Wednesday night, and they got it.
The No. 6 Bears blew away Bethune-Cookman, 69-42, behind a balanced effort that featured 10 different scorers and two in double digits.
No. 55 guard Pierre Jackson led the way with 12 points for the Bears, followed by No. 4 forward Quincy Acy, who tallied 10 points and became the 25th 1,000-point scorer at Baylor.
“I don’t know what to say about it,” Acy said. “It’s hard work. My teammates did a great job of looking for me.”
Acy’s rim-rocking dunk in the second half might have been the play of the game, but the loudest applause came at halftime when quarterback Robert Griffin III appeared on the court with his Heisman Trophy.
Griffin’s appearance along with a special $3 ticket price helped push Wednesday’s attendance to 8,838, far exceeding last year’s audience of 5,653 when Baylor beat Bethune-Cookman 83-39.
Baylor radio commentator John Morris asked Griffin several questions as the two stood at mid-court. Among his responses, Griffin talked about his most memorable moments from winning college football’s most prestigious individual award.
“Watching the reaction from here in Waco on YouTube probably let it sit in a little bit better, just how much it means to us.” Griffin said.
Griffin received the customary “one more year” chant from the crowd. His final message to those at the Ferrell Center and those watching on Fox Sports Net, however, had nothing to do with his decision or lack thereof to forgo his senior season for the National Football League.
“Now that [Morris] set me up for that one,” Griffin jokingly said about the chant, “They said that we couldn’t do it, but we did it. No matter how many doubters we had, the Heisman is Baylor’s.”
For Scott Drew’s team, it was business as usual.
The Wildcats took a 10-9 lead on a 3-pointer from Garrius Holloman, who led his team with 13 points, at the 14:47 mark of the first half. From there, the Bears launched a 10-0 run capped by Quincy Miller’s 3-pointer just under the 10-minute mark.
Miller notched seven points and eight rebounds in 22 minutes.
During the stretch, Bethune-Cookman went 0-for-4 from the field and committed three turnovers.
Both teams credited the Bears’ surge to a man-to-man defense that swarmed the Wildcats. Drew made the switch to man defense just before the Bears’ run and also subbed in an entirely new five-man lineup at the under-16-minute media timeout.
“That’s the most man [defense] I’ve seen them play in a long time,” Bethune-Cookman coach Gravelle Craig said. “Playing man picked up the tempo a little bit, made us speed up a little bit so we couldn’t actually control the tempo.”
No. 14 guard Deuce Bello, No. 34 forward Cory Jefferson, No. 41 Anthony Jones, No. 3 forward Fred Ellis and Jackson replaced the starting five of No. 5 guard Brady Heslip, No. 30 forward Quincy Miller, Acy, No. 22 guard A.J. Walton and No. 1 forward Perry Jones III.
Such depth, Drew said, is one of this year’s squad’s greatest strengths.
“With the two groups and how we’re rotating, things have worked out pretty well. We’ve matched people up to do that,” Drew said.
Bello added nine points, Jones III seven and Jones six.
Once the Wildcats finally ended their scoring drought on a dunk that cut the Baylor lead to 19-12, Acy and Jones III answered with back-to-back dunks. Jackson then converted a fastbreak layup and put the Bears ahead 25-12.
In the final 9:50 of the first half, Bethune-Cookman scored just two field goals.
Jackson has proven stiff competition at the point guard position for Walton. But being an unselfish player, Jackson said being a starter makes no difference to him.
Drew is in no hurry to switch his starting lineup, either, as long as the team’s success continues.
“If it ain’t broke, why try to fix it?” Drew said.
The second half was a repeat of the first. Baylor shot 63 percent (14 of 22), while Bethune-Cookman struggled to 10 of 30.
Baylor shot better from the floor (28 of 50, for 56 percent) than it did from the free throw line (7 of 15, for 47 percent).