By Cody Soto
No. 20 Baylor men’s basketball used a solid first half and strong finish to power past Kansas State 69-42 Saturday afternoon at the Ferrell Center.
With the win, the Bears (20-7, 8-6 Big 12) have now recorded their seventh 20-win season in the past eight years. It started with the balanced effort both on offense and defense. Junior forward Taurean Prince led the Bears off the bench with 14 points on 6-for-11 shooting and five steals.
Four other Baylor players scored in double figures: junior forward Rico Gathers with 13 points and 10 rebounds, junior guard Lester Medford with 12 points, freshman guard Al Freeman with 11, and senior forward Royce O’Neale with 10.
Baylor started out the first half with its usual home court dominance, leading Kansas State 20-8 with 11:50 to go. The Bears were 5-for-8 from three point range at that point, receiving contributions from senior guard Kenny Chery, Medford, Freeman and Prince from downtown.
The Wildcats caught some fire as they went on a 6-0 run to pull within six, but Prince’s three-point jumper ended the scoring drought for Baylor. Kansas State continued to show its inside presence throughout the half, but the Bears rallied to a 39-25 lead at the half.
The Bears came out of the locker room and struggled to pick up its offensive game to start the second, going 1-for-11 from the field. Kansas State inched closer and cut the lead to 41-33 with 13:38 to go. After Baylor only made two points from the free throw line, Gathers brought back the rhythm with a smooth layup to get the game going again for the Bears.
The Bears then went 12-for-13 for the rest of the game, dominating the boards and second chance points to send the Wildcats packing. O’Neale drilled his first three-pointer of the game late in the second half and freshman forward T.J. Maston hit a layup for the Bears’ final shot to push Baylor past the Wildcats 69-42.
The Bears hit the road to face No. 14 Iowa State on Wednesday night at 8 p.m. The game will air on ESPNU.