by Cody Soto
No. 20 Baylor men’s basketball showed no mercy to No. 19 Texas as the Bears fired away from the field to take a big 83-60 win at the Ferrell Center Saturday afternoon.
Baylor (16-5, 4-4 Big 12) shot 30-for-62 from the field for a 48.4 shooting percentage and limited the Longhorns to a 38.6 shooting percentage, including only 5-for-26 from three-point range. The Bears hit 12-of-22 shots from beyond the arc, shooting 54.5 percent.
Senior guard Kenny Chery had a stellar performance with 23 points on 9-for-12 from the field and add four rebounds and five assists in the 23-point win. Senior forward Royce O’Neale added 20 points, eight rebounds and five assists while forwards Taurean Prince and Johnathan Motley contributed 13 points apiece.
“In the last game (against Oklahoma State), we had good looks and didn’t make shots,” head coach Scott Drew said. “We made shots tonight. They missed shots, and momentum comes into play. Our crowd did a great job. We were really unselfish and didn’t turn the ball over.”
While 24 assists helped guide the Bears to the win, Baylor cracked down on turning the ball over and only had nine turnovers against the Longhorns.
“You can’t get much more unselfish playing than 24 assists and only nine turnovers,” Drew said. “I thought it was excellent in offensive execution in making the extra pass.”
Texas was led by Jonathan Holmes with 17 points, followed by Isaiah Taylor with 16 and Cameron Ridley with 12. Ridley also added 11 rebounds in the loss for Texas. The Bears knew they were in for a tough battle in the post, but the way Baylor started out the game made the difference.
“We knew we had to get a good shot on that first one because Baylor and Texas are monster teams on the glass,” Drew said. “If you were depending on more second and third chance shots, it was going to be tough.”
The Bears came out hot as they connected the dots on the team’s first eight shots for a perfect shooting percentage. On the other end of the court, the Longhorns did the exact opposite. Texas couldn’t get it’s first 11 shots to fall, shooting zero percent to start the game.
“The past couple of games, we haven’t really come out strong,” Chery said. “We said to ourselves, ‘we need to make a statement,’ and that’s what we did.”
After junior forward Deng Deng’s missed layup, the Bears followed suit and went on a huge scoring drought as they only hit two of 18 shots to allow Texas back in the game. A three-pointer by Javon Felix cut the Baylor lead to four with less than five minutes left in the half. Soon after that, the Bears pulled together an 11-3 run to lead 39-27 into halftime.
“Basketball is a game of runs, so we knew they were going to make a run; we just didn’t know when,” Chery said. “When they cut it down to four, the coaching staff told us to stay poised and keep pushing. That’s exactly what we did, and it went well.”
Coming out of the locker room, both Baylor and Texas came out in a different way. The Longhorns used a lot of post work to add points to the board, but the Bears had their seniors take the lead. Chery hit two three-pointers to start out the half, and O’Neale hit a floater to put the Bears up by 14.
“It was just us sharing the ball,” O’Neale said. “Everybody was finding the right shot and making the shot. It’s just one game, but hopefully we can do the rest and finish strong in the Big 12.”
Texas’ Isaiah Taylor and Jonathan Holmes put up some big shots to keep the Longhorns in the game, but Baylor’s offensive end kept making them hurt as Prince, Chery and Medford each hit three-pointers in an electric environment for a comfortable lead.
“It’s the guys’ dedication,” Chery said. “When we lost to Oklahoma State, a lot of guys were ready to watch film, learn from the mistakes we made and move on and prepare for the next game.”
The Bears spread the ball around as freshman guard Al Freeman and O’Neale dished passes to several post players for clear looks and easy buckets. When the Longhorns tried to get the team back in the game with three-pointers, nothing fell. The Bears held the lead behind late shots from Chery and O’Neale to win 83-60 at home.
The Bears host Big 12 rival TCU on Wednesday night as they look to extend an impressive home stand at the Ferrell Center. Tipoff is set for 7:30 p.m. and will air on ESPNEWS.