The No. 18 Baylor men’s basketball team took care of business against Jackson State today. The Bears won 78-47, and senior guard Pierre Jackson led all scorers with 25 points and seven assists.
“I still think we have a lot to improve on,” Jackson said. “ We can be a lot better throughout the season. As of right now, we’re playing good. We’re all clicking.”
With the victory, Baylor moves to 2-0 on the season and will next head to Charleston, S.C. to take on Boston College in the first round of the Charleston Classic. That game will tip off at 2 p.m. on Thursday.
Defense was the story for Baylor. The Bears held the Jackson State Tigers to 35.1 percent shooting for the game on just 20 made baskets. In the first half, Jackson state was never able to score back-to-back baskets. In the second half, the Tigers did it once.
A big part of this was Baylor’s interior defense. The Bears recorded nine blocks despite not having freshman center Isaiah Austin and senior center J’mison Morgan. Both were sidelined due to injuries. The team hopes that Austin will be able to return for the Charleston Classic, but it is too early to tell.
Cory Jefferson led the way defensively with six blocks on the day. Jefferson also finished with 14 points on six-of-seven shooting and added seven rebounds.
“Cory is somebody we expect a lot of,” head coach Scott Drew said. “It’s his turn to lead now and he’s doing it by example. We haven’t given him a lot of rest. He’s been able to sustain his energy level and provide that defensive energy, and on the offensive end he’s been very efficient.”
Rebounding also played a big part in the Bears’ victory. Baylor outrebounded Jackson State 44-28. Freshman forward Rico Gathers led the way for the Bears with the first double-double of his young career, 13 points and 10 rebounds. Six of his rebounds came on the offensive end.
“I thought Rico…looked a lot more comfortable,” Drew said. “[He] wasn’t as winded as the first game, so its great that he was able to feel more comfortable out there. I thought he did a great job running the floor and getting some transition baskets.”
A few times late in the game, Gathers grabbed the rebound and took the ball up the floor himself. Other times, his buckets were set up by penetration by the guards.
“I feel like I’m playing with the best guards in the nation,” Gathers said. “That was one of my main reasons for coming here to play for Baylor.”
Freshman forward Taurean Prince added 13 points on four-of-five shooting and six rebounds. Prince did not play in the first half of Baylor’s first game, but his strong play in the second half against Lehigh earned him more minutes.
“I thought he really came out and played well,” Drew said. “With Isaiah out, we needed someone else to step up and I think he did a very nice job. And that’s two games in a row I thought he’s played well.”