By Cody Soto
No. 19 Baylor men’s basketball used a big second half run to pull away and defeat No. 12 Iowa State 79-70 on Wednesday night at Hilton Coliseum in Ames, Iowa.
The win was the first ever victory for the Bears in Ames; they were previously 0-for-12 against the Cyclones on the road. Also, the Cyclones’ last conference loss at home that wasn’t to the Kansas Jayhawks was on Jan. 11, 2012.
Five Baylor players scored in double-digits in the historical win. Junior forward Taurean Prince scored 20 points and seven rebounds, senior Kenny Chery had 15 points and seven assists, junior guard Lester Medford had 12, and senior forward Royce O’Neale and junior forward Rico Gathers each contributed 10.
O’Neale started out the game with a three-pointer on the left side to put the Bears up 3-0 early in the first half. The Cyclones and Bears would fight it out for a majority of the first half, but Iowa State would take an early two-point advantage after the Bears turned over the ball on four of five of their possessions during that time period.
Medford got Baylor back on pace with three three-pointers during the first half, and with a Chery three-point shot and four points from freshman forward Johnathan Motley, the Bears walked into the locker room with a 40-37 halftime lead over the Cyclones.
Just like the first meeting this year, the Bears got off to a sluggish start in the second half, allowing the Cyclones to use their home court advantage with the help of power forward Georges Niang and Jameel McKay. The Cyclones were all smiles after McKay slammed the ball in to force a Baylor timeout, but the Bears didn’t look startled.
After the Cyclones had a 60-54 lead over the Bears with 9:03 to go in the game, the Bears pulled ahead with an 18-4 run fueled by six three-pointers from three Baylor players. That run pushed the Bears out in front, and the lead was theirs for the rest of the night.
Iowa State looked lost on offense, and the Bears’ defense shut down the transition offense on the other side of the court to maintain the lead.
O’Neale scored four points before Niang hit two free throws on the other side. Chery’s two free throws put the game out of reach for the Cyclones, sealing the 79-70 win in Ames.
The Bears return home to host No. 20 West Virginia at 3 p.m. Saturday afternoon. The blackout game will air on ESPNU.