By Cody Soto
No. 19 Baylor men’s basketball stayed hot Wednesday night in its second-straight home for a 77-57 win over Big 12 rival TCU, with five players scoring in double-digits.
Senior guard Kenny Chery led the team with another strong performance, scoring 13 points and adding six assists and five rebounds in the 20-point win. Junior forward Rico Gathers led Baylor with 14 points, 17 rebounds and three rebounds while senior forward Royce O’Neale added 12 points and junior forward Taurean Prince had 11.
“We did a lot better job executing on the offensive end from the first time we played them,” head coach Scott Drew said. “Defensively, we were solid. In second chance points, they hurt us and in transition in the first half, but this is a much improved TCU team. It’s important to win at home and see many people in double figures.”
The rebounding game was a big battle against two top 5 teams, and the Bears smoked the Horned Frogs by a 44-29 margin. Baylor had a 15-rebound gain on the defensive end, forcing TCU to continuously play from behind.
Amric Field led the Horned Frogs with 14 points, including going 6-for-7 from the field. Fields also finished with 14 boards as TCU dropped to 1-8 in conference play. Although it was a competitive game, TCU posted a crippling 35.7 percent as the Bears rolled over them for the 20-point win.
“That was very ugly by us, very non-competitive,” TCU head coach Trent Johnson said. “We lost our composure six minutes into the second half. We got testy with one another, and it snowballed after that. We didn’t respond very well.”
The Bears and Horned Frogs were relatively rough around the edges, each committing around 19 fouls and 12 turnovers in the Big 12 matchup. However, Baylor used its home court advantage and a 49.1 shooting percentage from the field to lead the entire game.
“We wanted to be aggressive and make sure we made shots,” Chery said. “We just prepared the right way. We practiced hard, and it showed.”
Baylor once again got off to a hot start as Chery started out the game with a three-pointer, continuing his impressive shooting game from Saturday’s win against Texas. TCU was forced to call its first timeout as the Bears posted an early 8-0 lead in the game. The Horned Frogs quickly fought back and went on their own 8-2 run to cut the lead to two.
Several players distributed the ball and moved it around the perimeter, including Prince with the assist to O’Neale for an easy layup as Baylor took a 21-12 lead with 10:41 to go in the half. After the Horned Frogs cut the lead to four, Baylor saw seven points from Prince at the end of the half to go into the locker room with the 37-29 advantage.
“It was great to get off to an 8-0 start in the first half in making sure that we kept that spread,” Drew said. “It’s nice how Kenny, Lester, and Royce get people involved.”
The Bears upheld a reputable shooting percentage in the second half, going 12-for-23 from the field (52.2 percent) as the Bears tried to break away from the Horned Frogs. After getting in early foul trouble in the first half, freshman forward Johnathan Motley added four points on the board followed by a layup from O’Neale to put Baylor into an 11-point lead.
“Knowing my other big man (Motley) was out of the game due to foul trouble, I had to step up my game and pick up his slack, but I was glad that he came in,” Gathers said. “He had some tough shots under the rim. They weren’t giving him any easy chances, and he was battling out there. That’s what we do. That’s what we practice every day.”
The Bears took over on the offensive end and used three-pointers from O’Neale and freshman guard Al Freeman to further their lead even more. Things kept going in favor of Baylor as TCU continued to struggle offensively, ending the second half with only nine shots falling on their end of the court.
The Bears didn’t mind though. After an ugly road win in Fort Worth, the Bears were able to maintain a double-digit lead for the rest of the game, allowing Drew to empty his bench and allow every player to see game time.
“I liked our physicality tonight,” Gathers said. “TCU came out really physical, especially in the second half. It was getting really heated down in the paint. But it’s beneficial for me and my teammates as well.”
Junior guard Austin Mills swished four free throws as the clock winded down, and the Bears walked away with a satisfying 77-57 win over the Horned Frogs. The Bears have now won their last 17 of 18 home games since Feb. 15, 2014, only dropping a single-point loss to No. 9 Kansas on Jan. 7.
The Bears travel to Morgantown, W.Va. to face No. 15 West Virginia on Saturday morning. Tipoff is set for 11 a.m. and will air on ESPNU.