By Matthew Soderberg | Sports Writer, Video by Drake Toll | Broadcast Reporter
No. 16 Baylor men’s basketball started off their season, and the entire college basketball season, with a 105-61 win over Central Arkansas. Tuesday’s win featured four Bears in double figures to go with a strong offensive showing.
Baylor’s offense went off with a rounded showing in their win. The Bears shot 55% on three-pointers, making 14 more buckets from behind the arc than their opponents. Baylor’s true shooting percentage ended up at 68%, beating out UCA by over 20 percentage points.
Baylor also kept up with their top-tier rebounding from last season, grabbing 42% of their own misses Tuesday, while limiting their opponents to just 20% on their missed shots. Transfer guard MaCio Teague led the team in rebounds, as both junior forwards Tristan Clark and Mark Vital were in foul trouble throughout the night.
Sophomore guard Jared Butler led the game in scoring with 30, jacking up eight threes and adding five assists for good measure. Sharpshooters Teague and senior guard Devonte Bandoo scored 18 and 15, respectively. Butler said postgame anyone from the team can have a great game any given night.
“You know just because you’re not going, you’re not going to lose and that’s a great feeling. When you sub out for a guy you know he’s going to do just what you want to do,” Butler said.
Coming into the game, and out of last season, Baylor’s big concern was their defense. Their play against even a mid-major like Central Arkansas may do some to quell those discussions. The Bears held their opponents to just 17% from deep, and 36% overall from the field.
The one place of concern may be the fouls — Baylor committed 20 personals and 14 in the first half. That led to 24 foul shots for the opposing Bears, whereas the home squad could only garner 14.
The fouls, however, came from the newfound aggressiveness of this Baylor squad, rather than inexperience or discomfort in their defense. Head coach Scott Drew said the assertive nature of that side of the ball is something they’re working towards.
“It was real important to come out aggressive, and when we came out aggressive and were able to get in transition, that really helped us offensively get some of them jitters off,” Drew said. “And when you’re playing defense and you’re into it like that, it allows the other nerves to kind of settle quicker.”
After the game, the team headed off to the airport to make their way to Anchorage, Ak. for their game against Washington on Friday. Currently outside the national rankings at No. 26, Drew said the Huskies and the neutral site will be a good first test for the Bears.
“Washington is one of the most talented teams in the country and you can look at the NBA Draft boards and they’ve got a couple of their guys on there for a reason,” Drew said.
The Bears will play Washington at 8:30 p.m. Friday in Anchorage. The game can be watched on the ESPN family of networks or streamed on the ESPN app.