No. 10 MBB grabs victory at inaugural Battleground 2k19 game

Baylor guard Mark Vital, left, shoots in front of Tennessee-Martin forward Quintin Dove (22) and center Eric Rustin (10) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Thursday in Houston. Associated Press

By Matthew Soderberg | Sports Writer

No. 10 Baylor men’s basketball notched a 91-63 neutral court win over Tennessee-Martin Wednesday night in Houston. The Bears dominated in the paint with 54 points whereas the Skyhawks only managed 26.

Still without junior forward Tristan Clarke, the Bears were led by sophomore guards Jared Butler and Davion Mitchell. Mitchell posted a career-high 19 points on 75% shooting with four assists, three rebounds and a career-high four steals. Butler scored 19 points on 50% shooting while adding six assists and three steals.

Three other Bears ended with double figures, as junior wing Mark Vital scored 11, junior guard MaCio Teague scored 12 and sophomore forward Flo Thamba scored 11 and grabbed a game-leading eight boards. Senior guard Devonte Bandoo also shined with a well-rounded performance at eight points, seven rebounds and five assists.

Baylor shot 56% from the field in the win, but only 5-10 from the line. The Skyhawks shot 15-21 from the free-throw stripe and led the fouling game 13-17. The Bears also failed to outrebound Tennessee-Martin on the offensive end, grabbing just 38% of their own misses compared to the Skyhawks’ 43%, leading to a 16-11 deficit in second chance points.

The Bears did move the ball well, dishing out 21 assists, the same number as Tennessee-Martin’s made baskets. They also dominated the turnover battle, forcing 19 while only giving up 12. That led to a 10-point lead in points off turnovers as well (27-17).

Baylor opened the matchup with a 17-5 run before the Skyhawks came storming back to close the gap to one with 3:04 left in the first half. The Bears rattled off seven straight points to finish off the half at 38-30.

Baylor decimated Tennessee-Martin after the break, consistently extending the lead to 36 points with 2:34 left in the game. The Green and Gold scored 53 in the second half, 20 more than the Skyhawks were able to muster.

Baylor will head back home for the last game in the nonconference schedule at 2 p.m. Dec. 30 in the Ferrell Center against unranked Jackson State. The game will be streamed on ESPN+.