After enjoying ten days off in order to finish off the fall semester, Baylor men’s basketball wasted little time finding its offensive rhythm and establishing its will against Southern on Tuesday night. The Bears scored the first 11 points of the game, including the first seven points from junior forward Jonathan Motley, and cruised to an 89-59 victory over the visiting Southern University Jaguars.
Motley connected on his first six shots of the game and led the Bears in scoring with 20 points and 10 rebounds.
“We were very eager. It’s tough going through stretches where you don’t have a game and you’re taking tests and studying,” said Motley. “So we were very eager to get out here and handle business.”
Baylor posted a season-high 52 points on Southern in the first half with a balanced effort from the Bears and an overwhelming advantage in the post. Baylor outscored Southern 50-36 in the paint, including 32-14 in the first half.
Baylor had five Bears that finished with double figures in the scoring column. Senior guard Ishmael Wainwright and junior Al Freeman scored 14 points for the Bears. Junior forward Jo Lual-Acuil Jr. chipped in with 10 points and seven rebounds and sophomore guard King McClure also added 10 points.
Junior guard Manu Lecomte controlled the tempo and ran the offense efficiently for Drew. He dished out seven assists but shot just two for seven from the field.
Six foot nine inch junior transfer forward Nuni Omot saw his first action of the season for the Bears, as he had been waiting for academic issues surrounding his transfer to be resolved. The Indian Hills Community College product finished with eight points, including two three-point baskets and a rim-rocking dunk off the alley-oop from Wainwright.
“Nuni is somebody that gives you a stretch four, he can play the three, versatile player. In practice it’s one thing and in a game it’s different, so you knew when he’d get out there there would be some jitters, there would be some excitement and now we’ve got 18 minutes of film to help him get better and help him relax a little bit,” head coach Scott Drew said. “But, he’s another guy that is a good teammate and makes the right plays, not a selfish player, a fundamentally sound player, and somebody that can definitely provide something for the team.”
Baylor’s zone press and defense gave Southern fits all night long much like its other opponents this season. The Bears’ length and athleticism made the Jaguars uncomfortable all game, limiting them to 41% from the field and just 3 for 13 from three-point range.
“I knew they were going to go straight at us on the inside. Those guys are very long and can score the basketball,” Southern head coach Roman Banks said. “It just didn’t look like we gave them enough fight. That’s what I was disappointed in.”
The Bears forced Southern into 19 turnovers and converted those miscues in 29 points.
Southern was led by senior guard Shawn Prudhomme and junior forward Jared Sam who both finished with 24 points.
Baylor will travel to Ft. Hood on Dec. 17 to take on Jackson State. Tipoff is set for 5:00 p.m.